WhatsApp which is part of Facebook, is one of the most popular forms of communication with over 2 billion users.
Many organisations started to use them during the pandemic to communicate with staff who were furloughed and many organisations have continued to use them to this day.
Whilst they can be very useful as a ‘fun and light hearted’ communication tool using WhatsApp to message employees can be considered intrusive as the messages appear on personal phones at the weekend and into the evening. This can also reinforce the modern myth that we should always be on duty and remain connected when not working. Not a healthy approach.
Day Nurseries, Pre-schools and Out of Schools do need to be careful if they expect staff to answer/respond to WhatsApp messages outside of working hours.
It doesn’t take much for someone in the sector to be breaching the national minimum wage when they are working at home.
In addition it can increase someone’s stress and anxiety if they are seeing work messages outside of work. I get that the contrary is also true, seeing a message gives ‘early warning’ of an issue, but it’s not a long term strategy to adopt.
Top Reasons why we don’t consider it to be an effective tool
Here’s our top reasons why we don’t consider them to be an effective communication tool for Day Nurseries, Pre-schools or Out of School Clubs.
- They will encourage unprofessional comments. You are much more likely to respond in a casual unprofessional manner on a social media messaging channel than you are in an email or letter.
- Groups are hard to administrate. You have to make sure that staff leavers are removed and starters added. Remember we can’t remove a leaver until after they have left unless you have a policy that states that employees will be removed once resignations are acknowledged. You can’t remove suspended employees as it will be considered an act of prejudgment.
- New Groups will often be set up without management’s knowledge. Many times we have found that staff have created their own ‘sub’ groups to talk about other people and management often in a very detrimental way. This evidence has come to light in grievance and bullying investigations.
- Employees can easily screen shot what is written in a group and will think nothing of doing it.
- GDPR do you know how compliant WhatsApp is with GDPR could you be sharing confidential and sensitive information under Data Protection within WhatsApp?
- Phone numbers – free WhatsApp groups mean that colleagues can see eachother’s mobile phone numbers and these numbers have been used by colleagues to harass eachother. The employee then has to block the person and this can cause further disputes and conflicts at work.
- People can be asked by partners/spouses to not use WhatsApp. We’ve had it in a Day Nursery where an employee was happy to use the platform but their partner was not. This led to management having to repeat communications over different channels to make sure no one was at a disadvantage. Remember its not our roles as employers to add to someone’s stress at home.
- Managers shouldn’t use WhatsApp from their private phones to message parents. This can lead to boundaries being blurred. You will also find Managers receive messages all day and night.
There are better alternatives to make sure information is shared including within apps such as Famly and through HR software such as Breathe HR. Please let us know if we can arrange a free no obligation demo of Breathe HR for your setting. Please give us a call on 01527 909436.