The recent spate of hurricanes in the South may have employers wondering how they would best communicate benefits and other vital information with their workers should a natural disaster — or other emergency — hit their city. One technology company aims to give employers a solution.

AlertMedia, an Austin, Texas-based software company, offers an emergency communications system to hundreds of employers, such as Greyhound, DHL, AT&T and Volkswagen, in more than 80 countries. The cloud-based platform and mobile app sends prepared information through various channels, such as text messages, voice calls, push notifications and emails, to employees before and during a disaster.

“Time is everything when you’re running a business — when you’re trying to keep people safe and informed,” says AlertMedia CEO Brian Cruver. “What we do is we make it easy for any sized organization or employer to interact with all of their people.”

[Image credit: Bloomberg]
[Image credit: Bloomberg]

Employers have access to AlertMedia’s template library, where they can design communications in the case of an active shooter or hurricane evacuation situation, for example. Once a situation arises, a company administrator — the benefits executive can add C-suite, HR or other high-level employees as administrators to the system — will send out pre-planned notifications to every employee listed on their contact database.

“They don’t have to do the planning in real time,” Cruver says.

The various communication methods cascade, he says, so employers can send out a mass email through the system and then follow up with a text message to those employees who did not receive or confirm the initial notification; some employers might add on the option of making a confirmation mandatory.

Employers also have access to a dashboard within the platform to see how effective their communications are in real-time, along with reports built with visuals representing their company’s data, Cruver says.

“Our customers learn a lot about their audience and how to communicate with their audience,” he says.

Employees can download AlertMedia Pro, the iOS- and Android-enabled mobile app, through the App Store to receive notifications from their employer. However, employees must have a corporate account to login to the app.

See also: Companies communicate benefits, resources to Hurricane Harvey victims

Because text messages and phone calls, by nature, cost more than an email, the pricing model differs by company size and the number of communication options an employer wants to purchase, Cruver explains. A company might spend anywhere from a couple of cents per employee to about $1.50 per employee each month, he adds.

While AlertMedia works with companies of all sizes — a small staff is unlikely to need a mass communication technology app, says Cruver — the average employer client communicates with 2,000 employees.

Greyhound, the Dallas-based bus company, has 1,814 employees in the AlertMedia system and pays $1,897 per month, says Eric Wesley, manager of communications and recognition at Greyhound Lines, Inc.

The bus company has access to the app, emails and text messages, which have been beneficial for communicating with bus drivers when they are on the road — but not while they’re driving.

Before the company switched over to AlertMedia’s app, employees only received communications via email or through hard copy newsletters. While both of those elements are still used, the AlertMedia app helps communicate to hard-to-reach employees, says Wesley, who handles internal and benefits communications and implemented the app for Greyhound employees.

While the tool is great for letting drivers know about inclement weather and whether the corporate office is closed, Wesley says the app is the easiest method for all company communications.

“We use it not just for emergency purposes but we use it for critical things that we want our employees to know about, such as benefits enrollment and that they’re aware of those deadlines,” Wesley says.

Cruver adds that this type of emergency and mass-communication technology is gaining prominence outside of the schools and governments.

“I think that’s a huge shift from where everyone was 10 years ago, and I think that part of that is smartphones makes it possible and user-friendly enough that anyone could benefit.”

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