At one of my previous jobs, I distinctly remember a moment when tech trumped tradition and I first began to learn just how obsolete the USPS was becoming.
The PR director had just finished hiring his newest intern, and a week after he made the hiring decision; he received a letter in the mail from one of the candidates. The letter was a thank you note, expressing her gratitude and desire to be considered for the intern position.
The note was well-written and well-meaning, but it arrived a week after the decision had already been made. The letter was irrelevant, because the hiring process had moved much faster than her ability to gather stationary, retrieve a mailing address, buy a stamp, and wait several days for the mail service to deliver.
Upon receiving this letter, our team quickly gathered for an internal discussion. Had it become preferable to receive an email of thanks after an interview? Was there still a place in the interview process for a hand written letter? That conversation quickly turned into a broader discussion – was there still a place for mailed letters in the business world at all?
While I really and truly love getting snail mail for my friends and family, I can’t think of an occasion in which I would send vitally important communications through the mail. I have come to trust much more in my email provider and my text messaging app as reliable, quick, and free (well, kind of) methods for sending out communications.
You have probably experienced a similar transition in your own life. Actually, you may not have even been conscious of it, because the shift happened so quickly, and you likely made the change several years ago.
Regardless of when or how you made the shift, many businesses are lagging behind when it comes to making this change for internal communications. The same person who would never consider sending a card to her aunt to let her know about Thanksgiving plans (didn’t you know? Aunt Edna is a texting machine!) is still sending out letters to employees about time-sensitive payroll and insurance information.
The Postal Service has made the news nearly every month this year, with countless articles detailing their financial struggles as the number of mailed letters continues to decrease. The latest news is the controversial cancellation of Saturday delivery – a practice that should have little effect on business owners, but is gaining surprising reactions from the business community.
The unfortunate truth is that many companies are still using mail services to share important documents with employees like payroll information, open enrollment updates, and event announcements. I can only imagine that – just like the thank you note that arrived a week late – many of the messages employers are sending are untimely and lost in the shuffle.
For the desk worker, email has largely replaced employee communications mail, but for hourly, non-desk workers, email is not a viable solution. You can check out our CEO’s thoughts on how this is especially challenging during the holiday retail season, where hourly employees surge and quick, timely messages are critical to store management.
Does your organization have creative ways of communicating, or do you still receive employee messages through the mail? One thing is for sure, the postal service is in trouble, and traditional mail is no longer a quick and reliable way to communicate.
And, we’re pretty sure that the new “all weather” clothing line from the postal service is not going to save this national institution…