Are you reading this on your phone? If so, we’re not surprised. By 2021, nearly four billion people are projected to own a smartphone. Smartphone use touches every aspect of our lives. Whether it’s to communicate via voice or text, check the news, share our opinions, do our banking, buy stuff. . . . The list goes on and on. And increasingly it includes the ways we use our phones at work.
According to a UK study, 60 percent of employees now use apps for work-related activities; 71 percent spend more than two hours a week accessing company information on mobile; and 70 percent of employees keep their phones “within eye contact” at work (as reported by CNBC).
Nevertheless, 59 percent of workers believe their organization has been too slow at delivering apps for the workforce.
Given these conflicting numbers, it’s safe to guess that too many companies mistakenly believe “communicating” with employees via intranet, email, or collaborative platforms is enough. Clearly it isn’t. Instead, employees—especially the increasing number who work remotely—are frustrated that they can’t communicate and get work-related information from the device they use for everything else in their lives.
That's where an employee app enters the picture.
What is an employee app?
At their heart, employee apps are communication tools, although the best of them can and will do a great deal more. But any employee app worth its salt will provide companies with a mobile solution for reaching all of its employees via their personal smartphones/tablets.
In this way, employee apps can be an effective and secure channel for connecting dispersed workers who might not have a corporate email address or regular access to a desktop computer, such as non-desk and/or remote workers, as well as freelancers, non-contract employees, temps, etc.
As more and more people are working this way (for better or worse—or both), employee apps can provide easy, mobile access to corporate information and workplace tools, generally targeted for practicality and relevance, and in the process they do a decent job of fostering alignment and engagement.
Still not convinced?
Well here are 10 good reasons we think your company needs an employee app as soon as possible.
1. An Employee App Creates a Positive Workplace Culture
Workplace culture—the ideology at the core of an organization—defines the ability of both leadership and employees to relate to one another for the common good of all involved. Positive culture fosters loyalty in the workplace; it prompts employees to look out for one another; it’s a key to retention; and it attracts talent.
And there’s more: Elise Olding, research vice president at Gartner, says that many CIOs recognise that the right culture helps to accelerate digital transformation efforts.
The open communication generated by an effective employee app will go a long way toward helping organizations create and sustain mutually agreed cultural values. An employee app can help to build a stimulating, dialogue-driven environment that benefits all employees, from remote or frontline workers to C-suite executives. And an app can flatten hierarchies and create natural opportunities for a workforce to share the positive (and negative) aspects of their culture, generating a cycle of meaningful, motivating conversations and actionable feedback.
Consistent, ongoing, multidirectional communication that can reach all employees is the best way to establish a positive workplace culture.
An app makes that possible.
2. An Employee App Fosters Engagement
First the good news: the percentage of "engaged" workers in the US—those who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace—is at an all-time high.
The bad news is that that “high” is a mere 34 percent.
Workers who are "actively disengaged"—those with miserable work experiences—is now at 13 percent. The remaining 53 percent report being "not engaged." They lack connection to their work and workplace; they show up (usually) and do the minimum required; but they’ll be out the door in an instant for a slightly better offer.
So how can an employee app help?
Here’s a good example. Don Wooldridge, Vice President of Culture Development and Education at Florida’s TradeWinds Island Resorts, has been conducting employee engagement surveys for nearly twenty years. 12 months after the company began using an employee app, scores rose by an average of three points in every category. And they’ve been on the rise ever since.
Given his company’s success with the app, Wooldridge is eager to share what he’s learned about creating mobile engagement. The overall positivity at TradeWinds, he explains, is a direct result of stronger connectedness between the company’s employees: “An employee app gives you a bigger and more detailed picture of the company and the people that you work with.”
And it’s those human connections, even more than the work itself, that are at the heart of employee engagement.
3. An App Encourages Employees to Be Part of the Conversation
Here’s a true story.
A woman read a critical comment in her employee app about an executive decision to invite a controversial politician to visit company headquarters. She responded with a comment highlighting her own feelings about some of the positions that this individual seemed to tacitly support. And she wrote in a heartfelt way about how these attitudes affected her personally.
Not only did her colleagues respond with supportive messages in the form of “likes” and comments, but the company’s CEO took it upon himself to comment and explain in greater detail the reasoning behind the decision, as well as his own reservations about it.
The result was that the woman and her fellow employees felt a stronger human connection to one another; the CEO was able to see and respond to the concerns of his staff; the People Experience team learned more about how its people thought about values like workplace diversity; and the company as a whole felt more closely aligned behind its transparent and inclusive culture.
All of this was possible because of an open and honest conversation in an employee app.
And by the way, the company was Staffbase.
4. An Employee App Provides a Single Source of Streamlined, Relevant Content
How many channels are you using to communicate?
Just today, while sitting at my desk, I’ve received messages via Slack, WhatsApp, email, Facebook Messenger, LinkedIn, and iMessage. A couple were personal and others were work-related, but all of them cost time and focus.
The irony is that most of these communication tools were meant to make people like me more productive. But have they? Especially at work, cutting through the noise to get to the important information can be a real challenge.
But isn’t an employee app just one more channel?
The answer (as I’m sure you’ve guessed) is no. When it comes to work-related information sharing, it is THE channel, pulling together multiple information silos into a single source of trusted, streamlined, and relevant content.
The idea of having a single location, whether it’s for onboarding, whether it’s for accessing my payroll and benefits, whether its for accessing corporate leadership messaging, things of that nature. An employee app makes all of that a singular experience.”—Jason Etter, Director of Marketing, Staffbase
5. An Employee App Shares Today’s News Now
Printed employee newsletters and corporate newspapers are still widely-used internal communication tools. And while their purpose remains 100 percent valid, their delivery via printed copies should be a thing of the past.
Why? Because news happens now.
We had a printed magazine before, and we asked our employees how they liked it. They said, ‘You know what? We believe no one actually reads it.’”—Stefan Rathausky, Senior Vice President Corporate Communications, RHI Magnesita
Mobile channels also support comments, likes, and sharing, and they make news accessible to all employees, everywhere, and immediately (when necessary) via push notifications.
6. An Employee App Makes Email Communication a Thing of the Past
When it comes to internal communication, emails are obsolete. By nature, they tend to generate more emails, more meetings, and more conversations—creating more clutter than they actually clear. They lack the speed and ease of an intuitive, engaging platform, and they fail to effectively reach the non-desk workforce.
With new communication technologies emerging and workplace demographics changing, it will be a key challenge for companies to find a platform that enhances the employee experience, supports the employer brand, and is of practical use throughout the employee life cycle—from onboarding to engagement and recognition programs. All the things an employee app was designed to do.
Communication outside of the workplace has long since moved to social media platforms and a diverse array of fast, far-reaching channels that are second nature to younger generations.
It’s time for internal communication to catch up.
7. An Employee App Meets the Unique Needs of Today’s Modern Workforce
Millennials and Gen Z now make up the biggest part of the workforce, and more than any previous generation they demand mobile communication, transparency, feedback, and an employee experience that lets them work in new, more productive and flexible ways.
An employee app is tailor made to meet these needs.
Only 55% of employees worldwide currently give their organizations high marks for effective collaboration across departments and functions. This percentage is tragically low given the fact that Gen Z and millennials want conversation and frequent feedback more than any generation before them.
Gen Z named ‘co-workers who like to collaborate’ as being the type of worker who would help them do their best work, second only to co-workers who work as hard as they do. Companies seeking to be an employer of choice must leverage the collaborative revolution taking place and provide the technology, tools, and processes that facilitate and encourage it.”—Jim Link, Chief Human Resources Officer, Randstad North America
8. An Employee App Lets Organizations Measure Their Comms
You can’t manage what you can’t measure. The analytics features of an employee app will allow you to understand how your employee app is being used.
For example, the administration dashboard might feature two charts: “Active Users” will show you how many people have opened the app in recent days. You might then filter down to see active users per hour in order to find out when people use the app most.
Another chart might show the development of your engaged users, including people who commented and liked your articles. You can also see which content resonates best with which audience or location, via stats for the most viewed, most commented, and most liked articles.
Some employee apps will provide an individual report for every article published. It’s available in the app itself so that you can even check out reactions to your articles when you’re on the go. The report includes the number of views, readers, likes, and comments. If the post used the “acknowledgment” feature, you’ll also see who’s confirmed having read the article.
Employee apps can also feature Pulse surveys: short employee polls taken at regular intervals. They’re a great way to get immediate insight into the health of a company and its workforce. Pulse surveys can measure a wide variety of topics and items, including overall engagement or feedback specific to a project.
An employee app provides internal communicators with powerful analytics and data-driven results that show the impact of your internal communication and help you create new content that resonates with your workforce.
9. An Employee App Can Give Your Intranet a Voice
Traditional intranets are far from being the ideal solution for large organizations looking to create a digital workplace that fosters employee engagement and communicates in the culture-building ways now essential for modern enterprises with dispersed workforces.
With mobile workers making up more than 70 percent of the US workforce, an employee app that also serves as a mobile-first intranet is the ultimate way to communicate, connect, align, and engage with your people—no matter where they work.
An employee app will provide a smarter and more cost-effective intranet, while still allowing you to benefit from the proven core strengths of popular platforms such as SharePoint.
Ask us how you can use an employee app as your mobile-first intranet.
10. An Employee App Enhances the Employee Experience
According to a recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, “leaders say they’re choosing tech with their people in mind, but employees don’t agree.” When considering how much the digital tools people use in their day-to-day jobs affects the employee experience, this is a big problem.
Technology is now such a central part of the overall employee experience that it can’t be separated from an organization’s people experience. To manage for both, companies need to consider the promise of new workplace technologies while simultaneously attempting to understand what motivates employees to adopt new ways of working. This dual approach is the best way to foster greater development and more relevant communication, rewards, and performance.
And think about this:
While PwC reports that 40 to 45 percent of employees “prefer face-to-face interactions for tasks like performance reviews . . . and asking questions of their Human Resources (HR) team,” it’s that same amount who “prefer many of these same tasks to be partially or fully digitized—a signal that digital assistance does have a place when it’s seamless and unobtrusive, or where it can enhance people’s work experience.”
Consider the story we told in point #3 of this blog post. It’s a great example of how workplace technology in the form of an employee app can have a positive effect on the employee experience.
It was a prime demonstration of communication with a human touch, and yet none of it would have been possible without the technology of an employee app.
Getting started with an employee app
Did you read this whole thing? Right on!
Since you’re clearly interested. . . .
Here are 3 things to do next:
1. Test drive a real employee experience platform like Staffbase.
We can write about it, we can talk about it, we can make videos about it, but there’s nothing like seeing it for yourself.
“Oh, now I really get it!” is what we hear most from people who’ve experienced a demo up close and personal for the very first time.
2. Dive into the numbers and build your case.
Here’s your proof that mobile internal comms creates big returns for business. Get new insights on the business value of internal comms and learn about real-life examples of companies who have saved money by going mobile.
3. Keep Asking Questions.
Even though you’re well on your way to making the best internal communications decision you’ve ever made, you might still have some questions.
Chances are you’ll find the answers here.