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Survey Finds Disconnect Between Workplace Emergency Communication Methods and Employee Needs

Critical communication and collaboration platform Rave Mobile Safety (Rave) has announced the results of its fourth annual 2021 Workplace Safety and Preparedness Survey. The findings show that employers are reevaluating how to best protect employees both on-site and remotely in a year of unprecedented change.

The COVID-19 outbreak forced employers to redefine the workplace and establish flexible modes of communication with a workforce that could be in the workplace, working off-site or remotely—or in a combination of these environments.

The key findings of the survey indicate that:

  • Employer-preferred communication channels are not adapting to the evolving workplace landscape: In the event of an emergency, 56% of respondents said their employers would notify them via email, 39% said they would be informed with an in-person announcement, and 36% said they would receive a notification through a mass text message.
    • However, mass text message was the top communication channel chosen by those frequently in the workplace (44%) and those who worked remotely or off-site (56%).
  • Traveling and remote workers could be missing important safety information. Only 28% of respondents said that remote or traveling workers were involved in safety drills.
    • Additionally, 29% of off-site workers said they didn’t know if their employers had procedures for responding to an active shooter.
  • While the majority of survey respondents said they were willing to speak up to report safety concerns, there are differences based on gender. While 72% of survey respondents who identified as female said they would report concerns even if they weren’t able to do so anonymously, only 60% of respondents who identified as male said they would report concerns even if they could not do so anonymously.

Not All Employees Are Aware of Safety Procedures
While coronavirus restrictions and an increase in remote work meant that events like an active shooter incident or workplace violence were the least common emergencies in 2020, it’s critical employees understand safety procedures as on-site work makes a return more widely.

However, a third of respondents said they were not aware of or not sure about emergency plans for certain emergency incidents, with most “no/not sure” responses for emergency plans related to active shooter incidents, cyberattacks/system outages and workplace violence.

Additionally, the survey found workplaces are not practicing for prevalent events like medical emergencies and severe weather. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said that their employer never held safety drills for medical emergencies or exposure to illness and 38% of respondents said they never drilled for severe weather events.

Evolving Communication Methods to Meet Employee Expectations
For the second year in a row, the results of this survey showed that the most common modes of communication for workplaces were email and alerting employees in-person, which risk leaving workers uninformed.

While their employers currently use email as the primary method of emergency communication, respondents in the 30-44 and 45-60 age groups say their preferred method of communication is mass text message. Mass text messages are also the most preferred emergency communication method for all employees—on-site and off-site.

“With hybrid workforces here to stay, it’s critical employers evolve their emergency communication and safety procedures to meet the needs of employees in this new environment,” said Todd Piett, Rave CEO. “Technology can help ensure that, no matter the emergency, all members of a workforce are quickly communicated with and aware of a situation to help facilitate the best possible outcome.”

Download the complete 2021 Workplace Safety and Preparedness Survey here.

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