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How to send a mass text to employees

John Rost

Yes! It’s possible to send mass texts to employees. In fact, there are a few ways to make it work… which you choose depends on how easy you want it to be, how often you want to use it, and the size and type of your team. We’ll go through the advantages of text messages for employee communications, the challenges in setting it up, the rules around consent and opt-out for employee texts, and five ways you can set yourself up to start texting.

The advantages of mass texting employees

It’s pretty easy to see the ways that sending a mass text to your employees could help make everything run more smoothly. Especially when paired with other smart internal communications channels, text messaging has the ability to

  • Reach employees almost instantly, wherever they are
  • Trigger an alert on employees’ phones, without an additional app
  • Get instant feedback and replies from employees
  • Unify internal communications across channels in an organization

The rules around mass texting

Many people considering adding texting to their internal comms strategy start with the question, “Is it legal to text my employees?” The short answer is almost always yes…when set up correctly! Most employee contact, including on a cell phone, can fall under what’s called implied consent, which is when an employee has consented to contact from you via their employment agreement, and by providing their phone number to their employer. It is still best practice, however, to tell employees beforehand that they’ll be contacted via text message, and it’s required to give all employees the ability to opt out of text messages.

The challenges with employee texting

Until recently, there haven’t been great tools for implementing employee texting… in fact, unless you have a dedicated, internal comms-focused service, it’s still quite clunky and inconvenient. The primary challenges are

  • Dealing with tracking employee phone numbers and maintaining up-to-date lists
  • Lack of a platform to keep all of those texts and replies organized
  • Clunky sends that take a BUNCH of clicks (which is no good in an actually urgent scenario)
  • Unclear “sender” numbers, and how to set up the many-to-one and one-to-many texts
  • Services designed for texting customers are an awkward fit for internal teams

5 solutions for texting your employees (with pros and cons)

Store employee numbers in your phone and maintain a group chat

The most basic way would be to simply start a group chat with your employees. To do this, you’ll need to:

  1. Gather all employee phone numbers and make a list
  2. Save them as contacts in a comms team member’s personal phone
  3. Create a group text message and start sending!
Pros Cons
Free, OK for very small teams Not practical for teams of 10 or more
Simple and native to your phone All members of any text group can see all replies and conversations
No external software or added cost Zero tracking or accountability
Requires a personal cell phone of a comms team member

Set up employees as email contacts using SMS gateways

There is a workaround to use your Microsoft Outlook 365 or Gmail setup to send text messages to a group. However, there are quite a few steps and reliability can be low. Here’s how:

  1. Gather all employee phone numbers and which carrier they use and make a list
  2. Find the SMS gateway address for each carrier
  3. Create contacts in your email system for these numbers (they will look like 1234567890@carriergateway.com)
  4. Add all of those gateway contacts to a distribution list in your email system
  5. Hide those contacts if you can so they don’t get mixed up with regular contacts
  6. Send email-to-text messages to your distribution list
Pros Cons
Free, OK for small teams Very difficult to keep organized, adds clutter and confusion to your email system
No external software or added cost Manually manage any names attached to the phone numbers
Manual adding and removal of any employees
Manual changes when employees change numbers or carriers
No replies or responses possible
SMS gateways don’t always work, unreliable

Use an employee texting service built for customers

There are TONS of platforms out there designed to help business text customers, clients, and prospects. Some of them work very well, and the costs can be relatively low. It’s tempting to use these to text your employees! It’s doable, but management of your employee list will still be manual, and you’ll run into a lack of features designed to support internal communicators. Here’s how:

  1. Set up and pay for an external SMS service at your business
  2. Gather all employee phone numbers and make a list
  3. Use the service to text and respond to your list
  4. Upkeep the list regularly so it’s up-to-date and you’re in compliance
Pros Cons
Usually offers a nice interface on desktop or mobile Manually manage lists of employees and contact information
Can handle larger scale lists and groups No syncing with HR platforms, Active Directory, intranets
Usually offers a nice interface on desktop or mobile  Pay for how many messages you’re sending, often via a complicated credit system

Require notifications on Slack or Teams

We don’t recommend doing this, but it is a workaround that some people use. Instead of going through any of the above solutions for employee texting – you can skip employee texting completely and try to rely on instant messaging software. The problem is this – it requires software that isn’t built into your employees’ phones. You will have to deal with voluntary installs and login on personal devices, security concerns and device management with your IT organization, and the simple fact that employees can just turn off notifications. You would need to:

  1. Require all employees to install Slack or Microsoft Teams on their phone
  2. Go through compliance and device management procedures with your IT team
  3. Make sure all team members are logged in on their mobile device
  4. Require (or strongly suggest) turning on notifications for your instant messenger
  5. Send messages to the group, and hope for the best!
Pros Cons
Uses a service you probably already have Many device management and security concerns
No additional cost Difficult to require employees to install something on personal devices
Many employees feel comfortable with these services Employees don’t automatically see the messages unless they choose to
Urgent or important messages will get buried among every other type of instant message

(We do recommend using instant messaging! Just make sure it’s part of your 4 internal communications tools tech stack, and not your only channel)

Use an employee text messaging system

Of course, the best solution is going to be to use a system that is specifically set up for this use case. Workshop is the only internal communications platform that enables real-time replies and interactive text message conversations with employees. Our tool is designed to enhance employee engagement and be the perfect pairing of SMS and email, so you can reach 100% of your team where they are in real-time. Here’s what Workshop’s text messaging platform brings to the table: 

  • An easy-to-use employee text messaging system built specifically for internal communications teams 
  • Instant feedback & send replies with the only fully integrated two-way SMS platform
  • Education, onboarding, & support from helpful dedicated Workshop experts
  • Comprehensive analytics including opt-outs, clicks, deliverability
  • Unlimited messages to and from your account – no credits, no caps!

Now’s a great time to schedule a meeting with a Workshop representative to get a full walk-through of our internal email and text platform! We’d love to talk to you!

workshop employee texting service

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