Helping Employees Overcome Digital Overload: How to Humanize HR Communication with Print

The ongoing digital transformation and the acceleration of remote working due to the COVID-19 pandemic have led to an increase in digital communication at work. It’s an effective change for HR managers looking for a fast and inexpensive way to send communications. But as employees adjust to the day to day virtual connection to work, it becomes clear that digital communication is not always the most effective or meaningful way to communicate important messages.

First, these posts are competing with more content than ever before. Knowledge space workers, commonly known as white collar workers, are experiencing unprecedented levels of digital overload and burnout now that they are receiving on average 126 emails per day and spend around 3.1 hours of email checking per day.

And second, digital messages just aren’t as effective as print. Research reveals that being in the presence of a smartphone reduces available cognitive capacity and the feeling of being “constantly active” makes communication at a distance less efficient.

To further explore how employee communications have changed in recent years, FedEx Office worked with HR Dive to interview 179 executives and HR managers about their communications practices. Here are three important findings from the survey that reveal the important role print will play in humanizing communications for a remote hybrid workforce.

Communication trends are skewing digital

Despite increased attention to the topics of digital overload and digital fatigue, employee communications are still skewed toward digital, with around 69% of HR respondents indicating they use more digital communications products today than they do. they were not using it in 2019-2020 to provide communications to employees for onboarding, training and benefits.

Much of this change is due to the pandemic (63%), although some survey respondents cite that the format they are now using is more effective (49%) or that executive management initiated the change (13% ). The most popular formats are e-mail (66%), integrated communications software (51%) and paper products in the office or by mail (23%).

Going forward, around 48% of HR professionals say they plan to use primarily digital products, 38% plan to use a mix of digital and paper communications, moving towards digital, and 12% plan to use a mix of digital and paper communications products. bias towards paper.

For HR managers who want to bring a more personal and human touch, this represents an important opportunity to shift more communications about benefits, onboarding and training to print. “It’s human nature to be more involved in writing than in a scrolling screen,” says Tracy Brightman, General Counsel, SVP Legal & Human Resources at FedEx Office.

“When you receive something digitally, you have to work hard to examine the fine print and understand what is being communicated. As an employer you cannot send this and expect it to be meaningful, informative and demonstrative of the the investment a company makes in a team member. “

Print offers the opportunity for stronger culture and engagement

As HR executives adapt to hybrid work, corporate culture and employee engagement will be a priority; In reality, few executives are confident that their culture will survive a purely remote work environment. Printing stands out as an opportunity to humanize HR and create more meaningful connections between and between employees and the organization and between them through physical objects such as personalized wellness boxes and packages well-thought-out employee integration.

“Today’s employees have a deep need to feel like they’re part of the job, even when they’re no longer technically at work,” said John Sullivan, national accounts manager at FedEx Office. “Connecting with employees on paper addresses this need because it results in a physical element that employees can see, touch and experience during their day. It’s a tangible way to recognize your team members when so much about our work today is intangible. “

Sullivan shared some recent examples of business organizations choosing to create culture and engagement with personalized items for employees: In preparation for returning to the office after the pandemic, one company sent in branded insulated mugs and equipment personalized protection for his team; another company, in preparation for Black History Month, created and distributed 3,000 personalized diversity, equity and inclusion content kits consisting of a cup, notebook and personalized sticker, as well as a bestselling book on the subject. It only took a few weeks to launch and deliver the project, and employees were thrilled with the program as a whole.

Printing opens the door to recognition and rewards

Even as companies adapt to the post-pandemic world of work, the challenges of communicating with employees will become even more pronounced as part of the workforce remains remote. Finding ways not only to support the culture, but also to strengthen individual team members through tangible recognition and rewards, will be a critical factor maintain high levels of engagement and morale.

However, despite the fact that 27% of HR managers surveyed believe that the most engaging content delivered through print recognizes employee milestones, only 15% of those surveyed use printed materials for this purpose. This represents a valuable opportunity for employers to step in and provide that personal and human touch, especially when these touches are personalized for each employee.

By rewarding employees with personalized prints and promotional items, organizations also create special moments that employees can share through social media. Celebrating a milestone in such a tangible and physical way reinforces an employee’s positive feeling towards their employer while giving them the opportunity to share the news on their social media accounts, which can boost brand recognition.

Offer a reprieve to employees through print

The purpose and process of communication at work is changing. As more organizations embrace remote working and a digital approach to communicating with employees, HR managers have the opportunity to observe what really works for their teams and what could be improved. In many cases, this review reveals how overwhelming digital-only communication has become and that the best chance for effective communication is to diversify the formats HR uses to reach employees.

Integrating a variety of formats, including print, into employee communications is more than just an opportunity to communicate a message. It’s also a chance to show employees how much they matter in a way that stands out from a host of endless digital messages. As Sullivan says, “Nothing replaces the sense of extreme creativity that employers can bring to employee communications. ”

Ready to engage your employees in an impactful way? Click here at learn more about the enterprise printing solutions offered by FedEx Office.


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