Both email and instant messaging (IM) are essential tools for effective workplace communication. Determining which one is more effective depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. Worldwide, more people are using email every day. The number of email users worldwide is forecasted to increase to 2.9 billion in 2019. That’s almost half of the world’s population.

Meanwhile, a recent Radicati report found that IM user accounts worldwide are expected to grow from over 5.8 billion in 2017 to over 8.3 billion by year-end 2021, representing an average annual growth rate of 9%. A growing body of evidence suggests that for employee communication, investing in a robust IM program is the way to go.

The Case for Email

Email is great tool for slower-paced, thought-out, persuasive one-on-one communication. It offers time and space for the sender to greet the recipient politely, lay out a discussion and state a call to action. That, in turn, gives a recipient context needed to write a relevant response. And back and forth we go.

With the rise of IM, the role of email has evolved. It continues to be a highly effective form of communication with the outside world, particularly in marketing and sales. The 2017 Email Marketing Stats report finds that email has the highest ROI of any marketing channel and beats social by 40% in terms of customer acquisition. That’s why over 56% of companies use email automation. Still, when it comes to everyday, project-related employee communications, IM is on its way to supplanting email.

When IM is a Better Choice

Collaboration is the name of the game throughout enterprises these days, and IM is the go-to tool to make it happen.

Yes, Millennials grew up with IM as their electronic communication channel of choice. They came of age socially with text messaging and apps such as What’sApp, Snapchat, and Facebook Messenger. It stands to reason that as more Millennials move into more decision-making roles, they are finding ways to adapt the technology to address their business needs.

Here are 3 reasons IM is more effective than email for employee communications.

  • Provides virtual collaborative environments. An increasing number of businesses work with remote employees. These workers need spaces to collaborate with each office staff and each other. IM provides a virtual conference room to create that environment. Some programs offer chat rooms and group chat for discussions, virtual whiteboards and screen sharing for presentations, and much more.
  • Increases productivity. When working collaboratively, building and maintaining momentum is crucial. IM can increase the speed of information sharing and productivity. One recent report found 21% of respondents say they’ve seen a “moderate” or “significant” productivity increase from using IM. When asked about top productivity benefits of IM use, 75% of respondents cited a drop in call and email volume, and 66 percent said IM use led to quick resolution of simple questions.
  • Fosters relationships. Truly collaborative environments are built on a foundation of close personal relationships. Building such relationships can be a challenge when colleagues spend most of their time at their computer, or when they are working in different locations. With IM, team members can easily build relationships by taking advantage of different chat options for informal conversations and getting to know each other.

employee engagement app

Conclusion: Preparing for the Future

You have a lot of options for enterprise instant messaging tools, including Skype for Business, Yammer and SharePoint, to name a few. But these tools are cumbersome to install, maintain and use. And that keeps small- and medium-sized businesses from using them in the first place.

There are a lot of newer secure instant messaging technologies like Slack and our very own hubEngage platform. Both are offered as part of software as a service (SAAS) packages, making them very easy to set up and use.

 Do you want to learn more about instant messaging for employee communication?   Schedule a demo with hubEngage today and learn how it can prepare your enterprise for the workforce of the future. 

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