WhatsApp for internal communication? Think again!

Ruben Wieman

Ruben Wieman

Last updated on: July 26th, 2022

WhatsApp has been one of the most popular forms of communication for years. There are currently more than 2 billion users, which makes WhatsApp the world’s most popular messenger app. This is no surprise since the app is user-friendly and lets you easily stay in touch with everybody using your smartphone. You can send messages and rich content such as photos, GIFs, videos, and other files. In short, most of us cannot picture life without WhatsApp.

However, this might not be the case when you use WhatsApp for internal communications. Many companies within the retail and hospitality industry are still using WhatsApp for internal communication. Most of the time, WhatsApp unintentionally became the main channel to reach out to their employees, besides other internal communication tools such as SMS, bulletin boards, intranet, and Facebook. 

WhatsApp is not suitable for internal communication.

In this blog post, we’ll share the 6 main reasons why you should stop using WhatsApp for business communications, and we’ll dive into the best alternative for WhatsApp. 

6 Reasons why you should stop using WhatsApp for internal communication

1. Whatsapp is not compliant with GDPR 

Are you still sending WhatsApp messages to your staff on their private phone? You could get fined 20 million euros. Why is that?

WhatsApp is not compliant with GDPR. WhatsApp for internal communication has been forbidden since 2018. WhatsApp is an American company, so they have different rules and regulations for the protection of personal data. Therefore, it cannot fully guarantee the privacy of your employees. There is a risk that sensitive data goes public.

This is especially a challenge when your employees are leaving your organization. They still will have access to all data (including photos, customer data, and chat history) that has been shared before.

Internal Communication Infographic

2. User management is an impossible task for managers

Are you an employer with more than 100 employees? That alone is a reason to stop using WhatsApp for internal communication. WhatsApp is simply not the right communication channel for groups with more than 100 people. Managing those groups is an impossible task for HR- or IT managers.

First of all, you are using private phone numbers for internal communications. It is time-consuming to add those private numbers manually to your contact list.

Not only that, but what about the user management of former employees? You have to remove those numbers from the contact lists. But how to manage this? They might be part of both ‘team stock boys’ and ‘team frontdesk’. Without you knowing, they might keep receiving private and sensitive company information. There must be a better way!

3. Your employees don’t like using WhatsApp for work 

We all know how this works. It’s the weekend, you are enjoying a drink out in the sun. You check WhatsApp to see if your friends are available. What happens when you open the app? You find that there are 80 new messages in your company’s WhatsApp group. This is when you feel you are missing out, and you almost feel obligated to go through all the messages.

But, when you open the group chat and go through all the messages, you find out it’s about a new bike one of your colleagues bought. Almost all colleagues left an emoji or message. How annoying! You are not waiting to read these types of messages during your time off.

You are not alone. Tele2 conducted research amongst frontline workers who are using WhatsApp for internal communications. And guess what:

  •   41% of those respondents find it disturbing that their colleagues share so many messages in the group chat ‘of the clock.’
  •   33% wished they could set the office chats to ‘do not disturb.’
  •   42% blocks all incoming messages in business WhatsApp groups.

In short, your employees don’t want to receive work-related messages via this private communication tool. It is disturbing and leads to less engaged employees. It is very important to maintain a healthy work-life balance for your employees.

Use an employee app for work communications to provide your employees with a healthy work-life balance

4. WhatsApp is not the right tool for communication in times of crisis

Organizations within the retail and hospitality industry have to communicate numerous changes. You’ll have to keep your employees informed about new products, assortment changes, and discounts. Or we all remember how vital updates were during the Covid-19 crisis.

For managers within your organization, it is of the utmost importance that messages reach the right employees immediately. Additionally, you want to be able to quickly answer your employee’s questions. 

WhatsApp is not designed for crisis communications. You cannot monitor the performance of your messages. Therefore, you’ll never know whether or not messages have been received and read.

Nor do you have clear statistics on the reach of your messaging. Yes, you can see who checked a message, but this is limited. With crisis communication having the right statistics is crucial.

5. Two-way communication is important, but don’t use WhatsApp for it

Research shows that frontline workers want to respond to each other’s messages. They need interaction. Therefore, two-way communication is very important to make your employees more engaged. Internal communication solutions like a social intranet offers your organization and its employees the possibility to connect with each other. 

At the same time, employees find it annoying to receive many notifications especially when they have to scroll the chat for the right information.

One more reason why WhatsApp is not the right channel for internal communications: people cannot comment on one specific message. For LinkedIn or Facebook, this is possible for example. You receive a message in your timeline. When people comment on this message, those comments appear as threats under the original message. This is not possible with WhatsApp. *update* it is now possible to react to a message with an emoji, but that’s all.

Your employees could miss important information when you use WhatsApp for internal communications. Your staff does not want to filter out each important message from all messages they receive. Besides being irritated, your workforce feels stressed too. They have the fear of missing out  on important information.

A great alternative would be a timeline where your employees could receive only relevant messages. They can comment on those messages, but they will only receive a notification of the main message.

Highlight important messages

6. You cannot integrate WhatsApp with your existing systems

Important integrations in the retail and hospitality industry are shift changes and real-time schedules. If you, for example, use WhatsApp for internal communications you cannot connect those data. WhatsApp is not designed for connecting your systems, like HR-systems or WFM- -systems.

WhatsApp is the perfect messenger app but not for internal communication.

It may be clear: WhatsApp is a no-go for internal communication. WhatsApp does not meet your organization’s requirements:

✔️AVG-proof 

✔️ User management should not be an issue: instead, you want to have a tool in place without private numbers

✔️ A communication platform that allows you to add channels, such as an ‘informal chat channel’ and work-related channels: it is easier to separate ‘fun work chats’ and ‘work-related messages’.

✔️ You have to reach all your employees within one click: you want to monitor the performance of your messages. Do all employees read your message? Also, you must be able to send them reminders.

✔️ A communication tool that works the same as a social platform: employees receive only relevant messages in their timeline. They can decide if they want to receive push notifications on their peers’ comments. 

✔️ You want to connect your communication tool with WFM- and HR systems: all data like real-time scheduling are synchronized.

The best alternative for WhatsApp

Is there an alternative tool that offers the above mentioned features for internal communications? Sure, the alternative is an employee app tailored to the needs of your organization. 

Oneteam’s all-in-one employee app lets you unify all internal communication into one platform. Directly engage with all your employees via their personalized feed, or instantly communicate via group chats or private messages. Plus, the modular app can also support your workplace with onboarding, e-learning, surveys, forms, schedule integrations, and more. 

Interested to hear how Oneteam helps organizations like yours to move away from WhatsApp as main internal communication channel? Have a look at our platform overview video below, or request our one-pager to learn how Oneteam can help you make your frontline workforce successful and engaged. 

Ruben Wieman

Ruben Wieman

Ruben Wieman is the founder of Oneteam. He mainly writes about the future of frontline employee experience and key frontline HR trends. Fun fact about Ruben: Started his professional career working as a frontline worker at supermarkets and as a pizza delivery guy. The frustrations he encountered as frontline worker lead him to build an employee experience app focused on making the frontline workforce successful and engaged.

Share this content

Share on email
Email
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp

Stay ahead

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated on blog posts around the topic of employee experience.