SMS is becoming the communications channel of choice for many employers. But to succeed in reaching and engaging workers through this medium, it’s vital to keep in mind texting etiquette for employees.
Employers can no longer shy away from using channels such as SMS to reach employees. As organizations strive to connect workers across dispersed teams, texting for business will become essential for delivering everything from urgent updates to pulse surveys.
But in order to make the most of employee SMS, internal communicators will need to understand a few key texting rules for employees. This guide breaks down 20 essential mandates for workplace texting etiquette and how to implement them across your communications.
Pro tip: Make the most of employee SMS by using an internal communications tool that integrates email and text messaging. Learn how to use ContactMonkey’s internal communications software today!
20 Essential Texting Rules for Employees
Business texting etiquette helps ensure that organizational messages stay relevant, appropriate, and informative—not simply distracting.
Connect and engage teams quickly with ContactMonkey
Often, business texting rules for employees are unspoken. So it can be tough to know whether you’re breaking them in the moment when you’re shooting off a speedy text.
By reviewing this guide, you’ll know what to look for across your employee messages and can prepare a checklist for your future internal texts.
1. Make sure there is a clear purpose for your SMS message
Employee SMS messages serve a specific purpose. They should be dedicated to highly relevant information, such as urgent updates, reminders, and scheduling changes.
You can also use them for employee recognition messages and real-time team collaboration—but the purpose has to be clear and specific for the person you’re engaging with.
If you want your employees to get their daily dose of industry insights and fun facts, reserve this information for your internal newsletter. Otherwise, employees will think of SMS as a channel for general notices, and will look to it less for essential information—which defeats the purpose.
Learn how to create a successful employee newsletter with our step-by-step guide.
2. Be sure the audience is correct for the message/content
To have a clear and purposeful message, it’s vital to understand your audience.
Employee mass texts should be reserved for urgent updates and crisis communications.
If your text contains information that is specific to only certain departments, make sure to send it to the appropriate distribution lists.
With ContactMonkey’s employee SMS tool, you can upload, organize, and label distribution lists, or select from the 10 previously uploaded recipient lists. This way, sending an SMS is even faster and you ensure that your text messages always reach the right audience and remain relevant.
3. Be mindful of timing
If you have remote, hybrid, or dispersed teams, you already know that working hours aren’t always the same for everyone. The great thing about employee SMS is that it can help you reach employees anywhere, at any time.
That being said, it’s important to be mindful of which messages you can send and when. In times of crisis—such as during a power outage, fire, security breach, or extreme weather—texting your employees outside of work hours might be necessary.
But if you’re sending a team appreciation message, it can probably wait till the workday.
With some messages, like team project updates or customer news, you’ll need to use your judgment and weigh the urgency. But always ask yourself: can this wait till the workday?
4. Make sure that the message is appropriate for the channel
Part of sending a purposeful and relevant communications is determining what medium is best for getting your message across. Changes in leadership or employee departure announcements are better left for long-form mediums or in-person communications.
Likewise, a virtual town hall is likely a better place to discuss how to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace.
What SMS does best is complement and strengthen your other communication channels. By allowing you to send event reminders or resource links, you can increase awareness around all key communications and events, improving overall click-through rates on your communications.
5. Be consistent with your medium
Consistency is key. If you send the same type of messages from the same platform, employees will immediately know where to look for particular information or resources.
This doesn’t mean you need to repurpose the same old content on each platform. It simply means you’ll need to decide which categories of content work best for which medium and leverage the benefits.
Of course, there are some notable exceptions. COVID-19 crisis communications, for one, should be sent across as many platforms as possible in order to ensure maximum readership.
In addition, you can use secondary channels, to promote the messages sent across your primary channel (e.g., asking employees to check an important email update).But in each case, you’ll want to adapt the content to the medium, ensuring the style and format resonate with your audience.
6. Minimize emojis and abbreviations and use wisely
Emojis and abbreviations can be a good way to humanize your internal brand. But if not used with discretion, emojis and acronyms can also be inappropriate and out of place.
When deciding to use emojis, think about how they resonate with your overall brand voice. Also consider how they align with the context of your message.
Celebrating a birthday? By all means, use an emoji or two. But if you’re sending out a link on the latest change management communications or a new company policy, it’s best to avoid it.
7. Be courteous, respectful, and professional
Since we often use texting as an informal means of communication in our daily lives, it can be easy to forget professional boundaries. However, text messaging employees is different than texting friends and family.
While the nature of text means that you’ll need to send shorter, snappier messages, your tone should not diverge much from that of your employee newsletters. Abbreviations and emojis can be used with discretion (as discussed above), but don’t overdo it. And remember to be courteous and patient just as you would with an email.
ContactMonkey makes it easier to align the tone and messaging of your employee texts and emails.
By integrating employee SMS and a responsive email builder in a single platform, ContactMonkey lets you create texts on your desktop and compare them with email copy. This makes it easier to avoid frantic, unprofessional texting that can often happen when sending messages from your phone.
8. Keep messages short/brief
With the latest technology, such as voice-to-text messaging, it’s far too easy to send lengthy rambling texts. Remember—an SMS is not an email. The goal of this internal communications method is to distribute information much more quickly and efficiently.
And lengthy messages conflict with this objective. If a message is longer than a few/ sentences, start asking yourself, ‘Is a Zoom call or email better for getting my message across?’
If the answer is a resounding ‘yes,’ then swap your text for an interactive HTML email instead. Alternatively, you can send a text with a Zoom link, asking if the person is free to chat.
ContactMonkey lets you embed and automatically shorten links directly into your employee text messages so you can even use it to promote other forms of digital workplace communication, or share links to resources in order to save SMS real estate.
Read our guide to learn more about effectively implementing digital transformation into your internal communications.
9. Be careful not to overuse SMS
One issue with SMS is that many have a tendency to overuse it. If you notice yourself sending dozens of employee text messages on a weekly basis, pause and take stock of your content.
All the information you sent out probably wasn’t urgent or relevant to each of your recipients. It’s also likely that employees are feeling overwhelmed by the endless stream of information and will begin ignoring your messages.
With notable exceptions, such as sending messages to frontline employees and deskless workers, employee text messages should be reserved for urgent updates only.
To keep yourself in check, it may be helpful to do a weekly audit of your text messages. ContactMonkey makes it easy to see how many times you’ve sent out an employee mass text, and the content included. You can conveniently access all of this information on the back-end of your tool:
10. Be clear and aware of message tone
When switching to the SMS medium, you’ll need to make a few adjustments to your content. But your tone should be consistent across all of your internal communications. This supports a strong internal brand voice—which is an integral part of strong company culture.
In other words, if you’re not using words like “Y’all,” “Hey!” “Cheers,” or Emojis across your internal emails, it’s best to avoid them in your texts as well. On the other hand, if those are common elements of your employee communications, try to include them more consistently.
Learn how to improve your employee communications with compelling internal communications storytelling.
11. Be clear, concise, and specific with the information you share
On account of the shorter format of SMS, there isn’t much room for ambiguity. That’s why it’s important to use text messages to communicate information in a way that leaves little room for misinterpretation.
This includes avoiding acronyms that may only be known to some departments, or attempting at humour without sufficient context.
If you’re not sure whether your message is clear enough before sending, ask a colleague to give it a read. And always make sure to preview your SMS messages before sending.
12. Avoid discussing sensitive and complex topics over SMS
We’ve all heard the phrase, “the medium is the message.” If you’re about to discuss why a member of your senior leadership team was laid off, a quick text will appear to downplay a serious matter. So it’s probably not the right approach.
Likewise, if you want to express your sympathies to an employee who is going through a hardship, it’s better to send a thoughtful email or express your thoughts in a virtual meeting.
That being said, SMS is incredibly valuable in helping to facilitate these meaningful conversations. You can quickly and easily send your employees a text to see if they can jump on a call, or a meeting link to speed up the process.
13. Avoid sending bad news via text
Just as you want to avoid discussing sensitive topics over text, you also want to dodge announcing bad news or imparting criticism over text. SMS has a condensed and informal communication structure.
It’s not designed for the complexity and detail necessary to convey bad news or constructive criticism in a courteous manner.
These types of conversations require lengthier discussion and a more strategic approach.
However, SMS allows you to send a quick survey to find out what meeting platform and time your employee prefers for a discussion. Not to mention, you can use SMS to send meeting reminders and make sure that important conversations are never overlooked:
14. Don’t text confidential information
Work computers usually come with a range of software and tools designed to ensure user security and privacy. Your employees’ personal cell phones don’t always have these protections.
If notification settings aren’t properly configured, a confidential message can easily pop up on your employee’s screen and just about everyone can read it.
In sum, employee SMS messages aren’t always as confidential as internal emails.
That being said, SMS is a great channel for reminding employees to check their inbox or review a confidential resource available on their intranet or other employee engagement app.
15. Address the audience first (say hi)
Just because you’re sending a text message, doesn’t mean you have to avoid the subtle courtesies of in-person communication.
Make sure to say hi and address your recipient before diving into the key content of your message.
Keeping things short doesn’t mean having to be abrupt—it means striking a balance between delivering a clear message and showing respect for your recipient.
16. Reply promptly
One of the biggest reasons we turn to texting is the speed and immediacy of SMS communications. In fact, 90% of texts are opened within five minutes.
But the efficiency of this communication process also depends on the respondent.
Not all SMS alerts require a response. But if your message asks for employee feedback, it’s your job to encourage employees to reply promptly when receiving a text.
For instance, say you’ve sent out an urgent SMS poll to figure out what conferencing channel is best for your upcoming client meeting. At the end, you’ll want to add a disclosure regarding if and when you’re expecting a response, such as, “Please answer by EOD Friday.
For quick two-way communication, always ask recipients to respond promptly. This avoids any ambiguity and helps you get more out of the SMS medium.
17. Avoid overusing phones and texting
We all get annoyed when our friends or family are glued to the phone while we’re spending time together. A similar feeling arises when we’re in the presence of employees who are glued to their device during virtual team-building events or employee coaching sessions.
Not only is this annoying for those around, it also prevents the speaker and event participants from getting the attention they deserve.
In order to ensure that employees aren’t overusing their phones, avoid sending employee texts when you know there will be a company-wide conference, or when your team member is taking a personal day. This ensures that SMS remains a useful, rather than irksome, channel.
18. If using voice-to-text, always proofread and check for errors
Modern SMS tech, such as voice-to-text technology, is often handy in improving productivity. The only trouble is, it’s often prone to errors.
While autocorrect misspellings can lead to funny jokes between you and your friends, things become less funny in a professional setting.
For this reason, it’s important to always preview and proofread your texts ahead of sending. With ContactMonkey’s employee SMS system, you can preview your messages before hitting ‘send.’ And you’ll be able to see the text display exactly the way your employees will see it. So it’s easier to make informed adjustments.
Discover more ways you can use ContactMonkey for internal communications and boost in-person, remote, and frontline employee engagement across your organization.
19. Make sure group texts make sense for everyone
When sending out a mass employee text, it’s imperative to make sure that the content of the message is relevant to all recipients.
To double check that this indeed the case, ask yourself questions like:
- Who is my audience?
- Does my message have the potential to add value for all recipients?
- Is there anyone in my recipient list who will not benefit from receiving this message?
Only once you’ve answered these questions are you ready to move forward with sending off your text. And don’t foget to preview!
20. Ask your audience/recipient for permission in advance
While internal communications don’t operate under the same rules as external marketing messages, most mobile servers still offer SMS recipients the opportunity to opt out of your communications by texting STOP.
In order to avoid deliverability issues, speak to your employees in advance about the significance of your internal SMS messages and what value they bring.
In particular, talk about the urgent updates and crisis communications that will be coming through SMS. And stick to your promise of delivering valuable and timely messages so that SMS remains a credible channel. In this case, employees won’t feel a need to unsubscribe.
Follow Texting Etiquette for Employees to Get More from SMS
By allowing businesses to engage and connect employees from anywhere, Employee SMS helps organizations overcome the leading internal communication challenges of the modern workplace. When you follow texting rules and etiquette for employees, you’ll be able to improve employee engagement across this key channel, and ensure that employees turn to SMS for vital updates.
ContactMonkey’s SMS tool integrates employee messaging with internal email creation in a single platform. Internal communicators can streamline their workflow while ensuring that tone, style, and branding is aligned across all employee messages. Book your free demo to see ContactMonkey in action!
SMS Text Messaging for Internal Communications
Start sending critical updates to frontline employees
- Always respond. ...
- Don't get wiggy if you don't receive an instant response. ...
- Be mindful of when you text. ...
- Don't text the great American novel. ...
- Ask permission before you call in response to a text. ...
- Double-check your auto-correct.
A General Rule of Thumb
A text should be answered within a couple of hours when there is not a time restraint. Keep in mind that if someone is working or exercising or basically out in the field, it may take longer for them to respond.
Popularized by the romcom, the three-day dating rule insists that a person wait three full days before contacting a potential suitor. A first-day text or call is too eager, a second-day contact seems planned, but three days is, somehow, the perfect amount of time.How do you text professionally? ›
- Get explicit permission. Texting people who haven't opted in can upset customers and result in hefty legal fines. ...
- Keep it brief. ...
- Don't text too often. ...
- Make it easy to reply. ...
- Simplify your signature. ...
- Avoid slang and abbreviations.
Don't text anything confidential, private, or potentially embarrassing. Don't be upset if your text doesn't get an immediate response—you can't know for sure when the recipient will read the message. Think of texting as a conversation: If you would respond in the conversation, then respond in the text.What are the do's and don'ts of texting in the workplace? ›
- DO: Be careful about abbreviations. ...
- DON'T: Send out bad news. ...
- DO: Check for autocorrect. ...
- DON'T: Text during meetings or presentations. ...
- DO: Be friendly and polite. ...
- DON'T: Use emojis.
Excessive texting—especially when it involves demanding to know where someone is, who they are with, and what they are doing—is controlling and abusive. If you're in a relationship with someone who texts excessively or aggressively, you may want to distance yourself from them.Should you respond to text immediately? ›
Time-sensitive messages should be answered as soon as possible, while you have more time for nonurgent ones. But not that long. Gottsman, speaking "from a polite factor" believes you should respond within a day.When responding to a message What should a professional always do? ›
- It's courteous to respond by the end of the day, if possible, but not longer than 24 hours. ...
- Avoid using 'reply all' – if it doesn't pertain to all. ...
- Acknowledge the email even if you can't send the requested information right away. ...
- Stay on subject.
Answer within 1-3 hours to be polite.
When you respond within a couple of hours, you prevent the conversation from totally going stale.
- Make sure there is a clear purpose for your SMS message. ...
- Be sure the audience is correct for the message/content. ...
- Be mindful of timing. ...
- Make sure that the message is appropriate for the channel. ...
- Be consistent with your medium. ...
- Minimize emojis and abbreviations and use wisely.
- Tell Someone Bad News About Your Health. ...
- Break Up With Someone. ...
- Bring Up An Old Argument. ...
- Send Passwords. ...
- Send Unsolicited Sexual Photos. ...
- Complain About Your Workplace. ...
- Announce A Death.
Double texting is, quite literally, the act of sending one text then sending another before you get a response.What does it mean when someone ends a text with 3 dots? ›
Ellipsis points are periods in groups of usually three, or sometimes four. They signal either that something has been omitted from quoted text, or that a speaker or writer has paused or trailed off in speech or thought.What does a 3 dot text mean? ›
Updated on October 13, 2022 · Writing Tips. An ellipsis, or ellipses in the plural form, is a punctuation mark of three dots (. . .) that shows an omission of words, represents a pause, or suggests there's something left unsaid.How do you start a text conversation politely? ›
To start a text conversation, try messaging about something you did together, like commenting on how good dinner was the other night. Alternatively, ask them a question, such as "What are you doing this weekend?" You can also try something attention grabbing, like a funny story about something you just saw or did.How do you end a formal text? ›
- Sincerely. Sincerely (or sincerely yours) is often the go-to sign off for formal letters, and with good reason. ...
- Best. ...
- Best regards. ...
- Speak to you soon. ...
- Thanks. ...
- [No sign-off] ...
- Yours truly. ...
- Take care.
- You follow certain rules while texting. Texting happens naturally in normal relationships. ...
- You feel pressured to respond immediately. ...
- They ignore you deliberately. ...
- Your partner texts you constantly. ...
- They gaslight you digitally. ...
- They take over your device.
Some examples of inappropriate text messages include: Sending or asking for sexually explicit photos. Texting jokes that are vulgar. Unwanted flirtation.
It is hard to have a proper and professional conversation about important topics over texting. Texting allows one to multitask and they may not be paying attention to the conversation (which is a bad thing if it is important). There is the potential in mixing up numbers and sending the wrong text to the wrong person.What are the five don'ts in communication? ›
Don't shout or talk too fast. Don't show negative body language. Refrain from frowning or giving angry glances. Don't give more importance to cell phones or other electronic devices over people.Are managers allowed to text employees? ›
Legally, unless you operate in one of the few countries that have already made it illegal, you can text your employees during, before, and after business hours. But before you do, a note of caution: Do it only in an emergency. For managers, try putting yourself in your employee's shoes for a moment.Can a manager fire you over text? ›
Unless you have a contract for employment that outlines how you can be fired, your employer can fire you in any manner in which it wants. This means that employers are able to fire their employees by letter, by email, in person, over the phone, or by text message.What is dry texting? ›
What Is Dry Texting? Dry texting is what happens when someone gives you short, non-engaging replies in a texting conversation. It can also be super repetitive and just plain boring, says Claudia Cox, a relationship coach and founder of Text Weapon.How many text a day is normal? ›
"Three times is plenty." Psychologist Nikki Martinez agrees, saying 3–5 texts per day is perfect. "More if there is something specific you need, such as picking something up, directions, or are having a discussion about something," she says.How long is it rude to not respond to a text? ›
Reply within 30–60 minutes to play it a little cool.
While it's okay to reply later if you're actually busy, purposefully waiting to text somebody might feel disrespectful if you're available. If you had to make the person wait for more than an hour, offer them an apology and explain what kept you from messaging them.
“If you think the answer is easy, respond fast!” It may not seem like much, but a second or two could make or break a job interview. People who answer questions after a delay are seen as less sincere than those who respond quickly, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.How long should you wait to text someone if they don't respond? ›
A week gives the person enough time to thoughtfully respond.
The person you're chatting with could still be interested even if they've gone dark for a little while. It may feel like a long time waiting for them to reach out, but keep your hopes up that they'll text you back.
“Communication works for those who work at it.” Communication is part of the foundation to any successful working relationship. Effective communication includes clarity, conciseness, and coherence between all parties.
An HTTP response contains: A status line. A series of HTTP headers, or header fields. A message body, which is usually needed.Which is the most professional opening salutation? ›
Starting your email with “Dear,” is always a good, professional option—especially if you know the name of the person you are addressing.Why you should not text back immediately? ›
"A text conversation can go stale in a few hours," he says. "Don't just make them wait." If you're crushing on someone, don't play mind games, he says. Healthy relationships aren't built on gaining emotional power over people by not texting them back.Is it rude to read a message and not reply? ›
It isn't rude to read and not reply directly. But from the three examples you gave, I would say it would definitely be considered rude by the other person if they never go a reaction from you. To the 'you-might-be-interested-in-this-messages', you certainly don't have to reply immediately.What do you do when someone doesn't reply to your text? ›
Give Them Time To Reply To Your Text
There are plenty of reasons they might not get back to you right away — they could be busy at work, not in the mental space to chat, or dealing with bad cell service. They also just might not be glued to their phone.
- Be careful with abbreviations. ...
- Be aware of your tone. ...
- Never send bad news via text. ...
- Don't change meeting times or venues in a text. ...
- Always double check when using the voice-to-text feature. ...
- Don't text under the table during a meeting or presentation. ...
- Watch out for autocorrections.
The seven C's of communication are a list of principles for written and spoken communications to ensure that they are effective. The seven C's are: clarity, correctness, conciseness, courtesy, concreteness, consideration and completeness.What are the 7 rules of effective communication? ›
- Respect Experience and Seniority. ...
- Don't Interrupt the Speaker. ...
- Think Before You Answer. ...
- Focus on the Subject. ...
- Organize Your Speech. ...
- Accept that You Don't Know Everything. ...
- Don't Argue the Facts.
The seven C's of communication is a list of principles that you should ensure all of your communications adhere to. Their purpose is to help ensure that the person you're communicating with hears what you're trying to say. The seven C's are: clear, correct, complete, concrete, concise, considered and courteous.How do u not be dry when texting? ›
- Reply as soon as you can. ...
- Avoid using one-word replies. ...
- Know the purpose of your reply. ...
- Make texting fun with GIFs and emojis. ...
- Make your crush smile with memes. ...
- Don't be afraid to ask questions. ...
- Show your sense of humor. ...
- Go ahead and flirt a little.
- Repeatedly sending one-word answers.
- Keeping conversation short and not asking more questions or engaging you in conversation.
- Ignoring or glossing over photos, links, or memes that you send.
- Never texting you first and/or never starting conversations.
- Tell Someone Bad News About Your Health. ...
- Break Up With Someone. ...
- Bring Up An Old Argument. ...
- Send Passwords. ...
- Send Unsolicited Sexual Photos. ...
- Complain About Your Workplace. ...
- Announce A Death.
Reply within 30–60 minutes to play it a little cool.
Even though you might be really excited to message them, you might seem a little needy or clingy with an immediate response. If you want to play it cool, wait for up to an hour so it doesn't seem like you're always on your phone checking for their reply.
"After the 48-hour mark, if you really haven't said anything at all and someone asks you a question that needs an answer, then that's where you're starting to get into ... rudeness or inconsideration," she says. But even etiquette experts get bogged down.What is cold texting? ›
What is cold texting? In the sales and business world, cold contacting a customer is generally done via phone or email without context or a prior business relationship. Cold text messaging is similar to cold calling and emailing in this way.How do you deal with one word replies? ›
- 1 Avoid making assumptions.
- 2 Ask him what's up.
- 3 Try changing the subject.
- 4 Ask him some open-ended questions.
- 5 Switch to a phone conversation.
- 6 Give him space if he's busy.
- 7 Tell him if his dry texts bother you.
- 8 Let him start the conversation sometimes.
Some dry texters are socially anxious. Some are trying to tell you they aren't interested. Some are just straightforward. Others prefer talking in person.Is ignoring a text disrespectful? ›
And so we kind of end up where we've started: Yup, ignoring texts is rude. But there are lots of reasons to do so that may leave one without fault. So let's set some ground rules to make it easier in the future. You shouldn't ignore a text from a friend or family member.Is it rude to stop texting in the middle of a conversation? ›
End your conversations
Not so much with texting, where every message prolongs the conversation, but silence can be considered rude, GQ points out.
- “It's not a big deal” or “You'll get over it.” ...
- “You're just like your father.” ...
- “You always ... ” or “You never ... ” ...
- “You're doing it wrong. ...
- “I am done.” ...
- “You're too sensitive.” ...
- Not saying anything.
The short answer is yes. When you keep sending repeated text messages, it can count as harassment. Keep in mind, though, that there are some exceptions. For instance, a friend of yours asking if you're okay may send repeated messages if you're not answering.How do you manipulate someone through text? ›
- Texts in generalizations. Instead of being specific, broad-reaching statements are used. ...
- Refuses to answer questions. ...
- Says you cant take a joke. ...
- Is inappropriately sarcastic. ...
- Changes the subject. ...
- Is excessively long-winded. ...
- Refuses to use proper grammar. ...
- Includes others who are not a party.