With nearly one hundred years as a community business, Newport Harbor Corporation (NHC) has a proud tradition of restaurant and hospitality service. But as an employee-owned company, they’re not just serving the guests who enter their dining rooms. They’re also serving the people who come to work every day. And with the help of an employee app, they're doing this better than ever before.

Serving Customers and Employees with Equal Care

A leader in hospitality and culinary innovation for over four decades, NHC has a reputation for exceptional quality and for exceeding guest expectations. From their beginnings, when they ran a few restaurants in stunning locations, NHC has grown to include many of the distinct culinary concepts that reflect the area they call home. Located in Rhode Island, the company owns and operates Newport Restaurant Group, Castle Hill Inn, Newport Exhibition Group, and Papa Razzi Trattoria.

Because NHC shares ownership with each employee in every business unit, guests can be assured that every person with whom they come in contact, from the dishwasher to the chef, is invested in providing an exceptional experience that translates into a truly outstanding guest visit. The mission of NHC is to create a workplace culture that offers career growth, passion, pride, and fun.

newport harbor corporation employee

"Internal Communication Is at the Core of Our Success"

The company puts an emphasis on training and mentorship to encourage ongoing instruction and development. According to Marketing Coordinator Dan Lederer, internal communications are critical to achieving those goals, and he maintains that communication is essential to the flow of information between all employees and employee owners. 

It is vital for us to keep the whole team informed and up-to-date about what is happening at all levels of the organization and to keep the communication flowing in all directions,” explains Lederer. “As a hospitality company with employees at over fourteen different locations, the majority of whom are in non-desk positions, finding a communication system that can get messages into the hands of every employee is our objective.”

We collected the best ideas for internal communication in 2019 here.

NHC GO — the NHC Employee App

To meet that objective, the Marketing and Human Resources teams joined together and found Staffbase. Together, they launched NHC GO, the NHC employee app that connects staff in all areas of the company. Lederer says the app has been vital in sharing information along with bolstering the company's universal goals and undertakings. Ideally, the app will evolve to include the consistent celebration of employee achievements, victories, and personnel updates across the entire company, as well as being a handy tool for any information or resources an employee might require.   

NHC GO employee app staffbase

NHC has successfully used a mobile-first strategy to connect with their employees. Marketing Coordinator Dan Lederer explains how an app was able to have a significant impact on the company's business.

Staffbase: How has your employee app impacted your business?

Dan Lederer: The employee app has allowed us to communicate directly with our employees in a way that we weren't able before. As a hospitality group, our employees aren't behind desks or carrying laptops, so finding the right channel for communication has been a challenge.

The app puts us right in the palm of their hand and allows them to peruse our messages at their own time and pace.

Staffbase: How does an employee app support you in achieving your daily business goals?

Dan Lederer: While it doesn’t directly help us create sales or revenue, it does help us achieve our goals of information sharing, culture building, and celebration. All of that reinforces our culture of employee ownership, which of course has an effect on our bottom line.  

In the future, our intention is to start rolling out more operational functions for the app with the goal of making it a one-stop resource. That will allow us to streamline our systems and create easy access for any user to the information they need.

Staffbase: Would you recommend that other business leaders consider an employee app to implement change in their workplace?

Dan Lederer: Yes we would, especially in our environment where there are so many challenges to reaching your frontline employees. Employees are on their mobile devices at all times during the day.

An app puts us in our employees' field of vision and makes communication easier. Once you can get an employee checking the app as part of their regular social media rotation, you can keep them informed.

Getting Leadership Onboard

For many internal communications professionals, the main obstacle to executing their digital transformation strategy is getting their superiors to agree to fund their efforts. 

Prior to launching NHC GO, the company relied on other forms of internal communication such as producing a physical newsletter, creating informative posters, and sending occasional companywide emails or texts to capture the attention of all employees. The team made a convincing case that NHC GO will create a space for open dialogue and put information right into employees’ hands so that they can utilize it at their own convenience.

“An employee app is an innovative tool to add to our tool belt of information. It can adapt to the needs of our typical employee and it provides the convenience of being accessible wherever they have their phone,” explains Lederer. “The app engages them, and although their buy-in is optional we've made it as easy as possible for any employee to participate.”

newport harbor corporation internal communication

After just three months, NHC GO successfully engaged employees. More than half of the company's 1,150 employees are signed in, and most check the app twice a week if not more. “We have had a lot of help from managers in getting employees on board, and we launched the app with contests designed to get our users excited,” says Lederer, who plans to continue growing the platform with relevant, useful content that highlights the names, faces, and events at NHC.

Capturing Company Culture with an App

Lederer says that the ultimate success for NHC GO will come as soon as the app becomes a part of an employee’s daily rotation during downtime or check-ins on other social sites like Instagram or Snapchat. His long-term hope is to migrate everything from their current intranet to the app.

“Eventually, our app will capture the culture of our organization and allow us to share what it means to be a Newport Harbor Employee Owner. It will have real function as an employee tool and also be a communication platform for the good things that happen throughout our company.” 

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