Seven Secrets to Getting Employee Buy-in (and Personal Contact Information) for an Emergency Notification Program

As a business continuity and resiliency professional, you understand the importance of having a solid, multimodal communication system in place. However, some employees in your organization may be reluctant to fully commit, particularly when it comes to voluntarily submitting personal contact information.

Their hesitancy is understandable. There’s so much in the news today about privacy and information collection (think NSA) that we are more reluctant than ever to freely give away our personal information. Also, time away from work is precious—it’s ours, so many in your organization want to keep their personal life personal, and that means not sharing home phone numbers and Gmail addresses. But for emergency communication to be wholly effective, you have to be able to reach people after business hours.

With this is mind, here are seven secrets to help you garner buy-in for voluntary participation in an emergency notification program:

1. Education is the key. Demonstrate what emergency notification is and what it can do for your organization. Leading vendors, like Send Word Now, provide free demos and webinars covering everything from service features to industry best practices. Invite department heads or team leaders to one of these sessions so they can share what they learn with their employees. This is also where security comes in. Make sure those you are educating know their information is safe because you’ve invested in the most secure emergency notification service on the market.

2. Skip the fear factor. Avoid using fear of a crisis as a motivating factor because it’s not sustainable. Instead let your message be one of inclusion; “We don’t want anyone to be left out of the loop during an event that impacts all of us.” Employees generally want to know what’s happening in their workplace, so creating this vibe is a good morale booster. Informed employees are happy employees and will be more willing to participate in new programs without (as much) complaint.

3. Keep it simple. A good emergency notification system has numerous methods for collecting contact information. To make things even easier, look for a mass notification service that provides a self-registration or self-update feature. This enables your alert recipients to add/update contact information that may not be available in your HR system (e.g., personal email), or that has changed over time. You can simply schedule an email, maybe quarterly, to be sent to everyone in your organization asking them to log in to the registration site and update their information.

4. Create a new culture. It may be a cliché, but make it part of your culture. Encourage your organization’s leaders to openly participate and support the program. If the CEO is the first in line to register her contact information, then others may follow suit. Advertise that emergency communication is here to stay (post flyers, include information in a newsletter, discuss it in department meetings). Let the idea sink in that a new way of doing things is coming and will benefit everyone.

5. Set and meet expectations. Be clear on what the notification program is for (just emergencies, routine updates, etc.) and who will receive alerts (maybe only the IT team will receive routine messages, and everyone else will receive emergency notifications). With expectations clearly set, your organization should adapt quickly.

6. Incentivize. It’s amazing what we’ll do for a reward. If you want people to sign up and share their personal information then give them a reason to do it. An extra casual “Friday,” a free lunch at a company picnic, and logo giveaways are affordable offerings that may net great results.

7. Make it unavoidable. Even if you can’t get the buy-in you want, you can still protect your organization. Good notification vendors offer more than just phone and email notifications. Things like desktop alerts, IP desk phone alerts, API integrations with digital signage or speakers systems, etc., can enhance your emergency communication plan. These types of alerts are intrusive and hard to miss. So even if Bob in accounting keeps opting out of SMS notifications, he will still see an emergency popup alert on his computer screen.

Hopefully some of these tips will help you spread your passion for business resilience within your organization. A little knowledge and motivation can go a long way in getting you to the next step in your emergency communication plan.