How to avoid message wear-out in the public sector

Post by Michael Hartland from SnapComms

Thursday 24 May 2018

Image of tired woman in front of laptop

The public sector is one of the largest areas of employment in the world. It employs 21.5% of the total UK workforce.

Government departments can employ thousands of colleagues, including remote workers, contractors and temporary staff, working in disparate locations across the country.

Effectively engaging this diverse group is a challenge, even for seasoned managers. We’ve listed six tips below designed to help you avoid message wear-out and get your people engaged.


1. Use comms tools sparingly 

The surest way to make your audience switch off is to overload them with messages. When you check your personal emails, how ruthless are you with deleting messages which don’t look interesting?

It’s no different in the workplace. Only send internal comms to colleagues when you have something to say. If you don’t send comms sparingly, they will soon start to question whether what you’re saying really is worth their time to read.


2. Segment your audience

Personal relevance is one of the biggest indicators of whether a message will be read or ignored. If it’s relevant, people will read it. If not, they’ll hit the ‘delete’ key.

Where possible, avoid sending ‘all colleague’ messages. These only make employees feel like the content is for ‘someone else’, and they’ll give it less of their attention.

Segment your employees into distinct groups so you can send them only targeted, relevant communications.


3. The right tool for the right message

Not all communication tools are created equal. Each of them bring their own benefits – but they may not be right for the message you’re sending.

For example, desktop alerts are perfect where time is of the essence; emails less so. Intranets are great repositories of information, but don’t proactively attract employees. Collaboration tools are useful for encouraging team dialogue, though important decisions can easily be lost.

Define the objective of your message and then select the best communication channel accordingly.


4. Take the pulse of the office

What’s on the mind of your employees? Are they motivated or moping? Slumped or pumped?

In large government departments, it’s particularly difficult to accurately measure morale. Identifying issues which can set off unrest or dissatisfaction is difficult from head office.

Make use of staff survey tools to regularly check in with employees and gauge their feelings. Ask direct questions on areas that concern you. Encourage open comments to discover issues you may not have been aware of.


5. Use visual hooks for engagement

Visual content is remembered four times more than text. If you want your messages to be memorable, include a visual hook alongside the text.

This is effective whether your comms are serious or light-hearted. A vibrant icon or image can call attention to alerts or important messages. Memes or gifs can add humour to event invitations or reminder messages.


6. Don’t write like a robot 

Even if your corporate tone of voice is formal, that doesn’t mean your writing needs to be cold or impersonal.

Include some personality in your writing. You’re the human face of the public sector, so bring the human element into your comms.

This is true even when what you’re communicating isn’t good news. Nothing makes employees feel disengaged faster than if they read comms which sound as though they were written by C-3PO.


Internal communications is a mighty tool. No other business function has such unparalleled opportunity to understand and inspire a workforce. Following these tips will help avoid message wear-out and ensure what you say really gets read.

About the author: Michael Hartland works in marketing at SnapComms, a leading provider of digital internal communication solutions.