HR BLOG: How to keep control over workplace instant messaging

Instant messaging (IM) is such a common form of communication these days that text speak acronyms are used daily. Your personality could even be defined by your most used emoji.

Instant messaging apps are accessible communication tools with growing popularity. So, it seems only natural that professional versions would be created for the workplace. But whilst these apps have the potential to eliminate blockers and improve communication for some, they also have the potential to do more damage than good if left unmoderated.

If you’re thinking about introducing IM to your business, read on for our top tips on how to keep control over workplace instant messaging.

Do your research

Instant chat for business has had a revamp in recent years. Now, due to multi-million-dollar investments trying to make each tool the next big thing, there is currently a strong line-up of messenger apps to choose from. So, which one is right for your business?

From Slack, to Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business and more, it’s advised to investigate the benefits offered by each app to see which one could work best for you and your team.

Get the message across

It’s a good idea to set up a training session with your team so that you can explain the how’s and why’s of instant messaging for work purposes. In the training you can discuss best practice on how to use the tool for productivity, and also the consequences of any app misuse.

Don’t forget to back-up

We are talking about back-up in two different ways here:

1) It’s always wise to back up important notes, documents or even conversation threads so that you are covered if your app experiences a down day. It’s worth noting that this sort of data can be useful, and sometimes even required, if you ever encounter an employment tribunal. Check which apps allow data exports and back-up during your research.

2) Back-up and reinforce your expectations set at your IM training session with an IM policy. This can protect both you and your employees from a potentially snippy situation.

Keep it real

Whilst instant messaging apps are great for quick and easy conversations, they probably shouldn’t be viewed as the sole method of internal communication for your business. Regular face time (and we mean actual face-to-face time here) can be beneficial for all sorts of reasons.

You can reduce the risk of miscommunication and check- in with your employees through regular meetings or reviews. And if you have remote employees? Try and schedule a real-time meeting every once in a while – the effort speaks volumes.

Alison Schreiber runs The HR Dept Durham and Darlington franchise, and works with a number of businesses across PBP. For more info, visit HR Dept Durham and Darlington or call Alison on 01325 526036 or 07535 853226.