An Employee Engagement App: 10 Decisions to Make Before You Start

Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202%; customer retention rates are 18% higher when employees are highly engaged; and organizations that have more than 50% employee engagement retain more than 80% of their customers. Engagement is a key to every company’s success.

Still, 88% of employees aren’t passionate about their work; 58% of employees wouldn’t recommend their workplace to their friends; and employee disengagement costs the US economy more than $500 billion per year.

Low employee engagement equals lower customer service and profits, results in employees taking more sick days, and increases turnover rates. In comparison, high engagement boosts productivity, causes employees to stay in their current jobs, and helps to retain customers. In the coming years it will therefore be a central challenge for employers to engage their workforce in order to run a successful business.

With companies constantly changing and the gig-economy taking over, engagement must go mobile

Not only does mobile turn the top-down monologue that dominates business communication into a horizontal dialogue, but it also enhances the employee experience. And it’s high time that companies start thinking of employee experience in the same way they look at customer experience.

Millennials already expect mobile communication. They’re true technology natives and they want information to be immediate, interactive, and accessible everywhere. In addition, when considering where to work, today’s employees value transparency as being one of a company’s most important aspects.

While it’s impossible to be the sole source of information, in order for your employees to stay engaged and for crisis management to work effectively, it is central that you are the first and most transparent source of information.

Furthermore, your workforce is already using their mobile devices: 72% of them, to be exact. This is why BYOD is such a big trend. Allowing your employees to use the devices that are embedded in their daily lives increases engagement and makes internal communication easier to distribute.

Mobile Means App

We use apps for shopping, banking, traveling, and for getting news and information. Why not for work?

Consider the advantages: Apps are mobile and easily integrated into your employee’s lives; they have high usability and are low in cost and easy to use; they increase engagement, enable social sharing, and come on a channel that already exists in your employee’s pockets; they have extremely high reach and enable push notifications; they support your employer brand, can be implemented in as little as four weeks, facilitate communication in different languages, empower collaborations, give your employees a chat platform that isn’t WhatsApp or Facebook, and open content creation to everyone.

Apps are able to function with your intranet or alongside it—and they can be configured with SharePoint; all workers can have access, security can be molded to specific needs, use cases can be adapted, and they are generally superior to traditional channels like newsletters or in-house magazines.

Workplace Technologies

Apps are the future of workplace communication.

How to Get Started: Ten Decisions to Make for Your Own Employee Engagement App

1. Convince the C-Level

You know you should get rolling with mobile communications—but how do you convince your leadership? It’s key to have a clear understanding of what your organization is trying to achieve—and why. This will help you to establish a clear “line of sight” between the benefits of an employee app and your team’s and organization’s goals.

In addition, remember to provide several options beyond just yes or no. You could, for example, ask to start a research phase or an employee app pilot with a limited number of locations or at a leadership conference.

Also, be prepared for a second or third round of talks. If your leaders don’t immediately choose one of your recommendations, collect the open questions, negotiate a time frame, and immediately set a follow-up meeting.

If you’d like some inspiration on how to sell an app to your boardroom, download our SlideShare here.

2. Make or Buy

Custom app projects are often widely underestimated, both in terms of time and cost.

A custom app project takes approximately eighteen months to develop and launch—and that’s only if you already have a full IT team specialized in mobile applications. In comparison, the Staffbase SaaS enables you to go from an initial idea to your own branded app in just thirty days.

Staffbase App, employee app

The cost for a custom app ranges between $200k and $1,000k. Plus maintenance. And take into account that all of this is for an application that has never been tried or tested by users. A SaaS solution will have already been verified by other companies, use cases are tested, and value has been proven. In addition, the cost is significantly lower since the investment for platform development and maintenance is “shared” by all customers.

See the Staffbase pricing model here.

3. Voluntary vs. Mandatory

As a principle, internal communication should always be voluntary. If you try to force information on your employees, it defeats the whole purpose of wanting to engage them. This voluntariness must be executed on two fronts: Facilitating BYOD and making the app download voluntary.

Already more than 50% of companies allow their employees to bring their own device and an additional 15% plan to do so in the next twelve months.

BYOD, employee app, employee engagement

There will naturally be voices that speak out against using private phones for work-related matters. For these people, as well as for those who are less than motivated to download the app, it’s important to create additional value, something which can be achieved by utilizing the right use cases.

4. Native vs. Web App

Native apps are deployed over the public App Store, while a web app is basically a website accessed through a mobile browser on a smartphone. Native apps are a better employee engagement solution for several reasons, two of the most important being their App Store deployability and their ability to facilitate push notifications.

Being deployed over the public App Store enhances an employees’ user experience because he or she will be familiar with the process and updates are applied automatically.

Not only do web apps lack a straightforward user experience, but they are also often difficult to install and have limited access, thus being suitable only for a limited number of users.


5. The First Use Cases

The main goal of your engagement app is to create additional value for your users. Which is why the first use cases you roll out are so important.

The following illustration highlights the use cases that create “value with a heart.” In order to ensure high onboarding numbers, we recomend that you launch your app with at least one of these “heart cases.” You can grow your app from there.

Use cases employee app, staffbase, employee engagement

Learn more about how to plan the right use cases from our free guide.

6. Which Content?

In addition to considering the framework, it’s also important to think about what you plan on doing inside the app. Mobile requires a new approach to content and functionality. When thinking about your app content, remember that it shouldn’t be a dumping ground for old intranet or newsletter content.

An app provides the opportunity to reach your employees in completely different and more diverse ways. Waiting for the bus, between meetings, at home, or at lunch. The majority of your content should be short, easy to read on the go, relevant to your employees, and, ideally, created by your employees. Longer pieces can be part of your long-term plan, but they’re only appropriate when they have long-term relevance.

Follow these guidelines to see if your content is APPropriate:

Content Guide line, mobile content, employee app

7. Security Guidelines

Think about security inside the app as well as outside.

There are two central aspects inside the app. First, limit the information you put online. Every piece of content you create doesn’t need to be part of your app. Consider the following content security guidelines:

Content, security, employee app

Second, consider the lifetime of your user’s sessions. It is of course easier if employees remain logged in, but you should consider the maximum lifetime of a user’s sessions and adjust the security appropriately, based on your company’s policies.

Outside, consider the login credentials as well as where the app is supposed to be hosted. We offer multiple onboarding techniques for all different levels of security, and you’re free to choose hosting options in both the US and Germany.

8. Onboarding Technique and User Management

After your employees download the app they will have to log in to the protected area of your Staffbase employee app.

Onboarding, employee app

What you must now decide is which onboarding technique to choose.

9. Align with Your Intranet Roadmap

An employee app can be viewed as a channel displaying the intranet or as an addition to the intranet. What you need to decide is how content will be shared or not shared between the two platforms. Having a direct connection between the two is often not an option due to security measures.

The ideal solution is a CMS. This ready-to-go system stands between the app and your intranet and holds all information that isn’t highly confidential or highly relevant to your employees. This way, content can be pushed to both the intranet and the app, while remaining safe.

10. Rollout Strategy

When it comes to your launch, the question is whether to roll things out with a bang or to start with a soft launch. Experience has shown that a soft launch is more advisable.

A soft launch enables you to build your app from the ground up with the input of your employees. You avoid the danger of launching a much anticipated project that your users don’t like, and instead include them in the process.

In addition, use cases need to be developed, specified, and adapted. Your app is an evolving platform that can be modified with flexible plugins in order to handle all situations in the company. A soft launch supports this approach and enhances value growth.

Mobile internal communication is the future of the workplace, and an app will enable employers to connect to their workforce in new and exciting ways.

We know that starting your own project is daunting, so feel free to contact us or leave a comment below if you would like any further information or help. You can also read more on the topic here:

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