Employee App: 7 reasons why your company needs one today

Employee App Seven Reasons Why Your Company Needs One Today
Picture of Firstup

How do you react when you’ve misplaced your mobile device?

  • Launch into a mild panic
  • Mutter (or yell) a few choice words
  • Dissolve into a puddle of tears

We’ve all been there. Those heart-skips-a-beat moments when we can’t instantly locate our phones. For better or worse, our entire lives have become contained inside those little super-computers that are always with us . . . in our pockets and purses, on our nightstands and, of course, nestled in the palms of our hands.

We use them to endlessly scroll through our favorite social media channels. They allow us to stay in constant contact with friends and family, shop, find places to eat, meet people, play games, get directions, and on and on. They are the remote controls to our lives—a virtual screen to the world.

Except at work. And that’s a problem.

The business world has been slow to catch up to the revolution that has occurred in our personal lives. In the workplace, too many companies mistakenly believe “communicating” with employees through an Intranet, email, or collaborative tools is enough. (Spoiler alert: it’s not.)

No wonder employees are left wondering why they can’t easily get company information, right at their fingertips, just like everything else in their lives.

Well, they can when their organization implements an employee app. (Yes, there’s an app for that, too!)

So, what is an employee app?

This modern technology enables team employees to receive personalized, relevant, and time-sensitive information, wherever they are, on their devices simply by accessing employee apps or through push notifications—so they stay informed and can do their jobs more efficiently.

Worker behavior is evolving, following the path seen with consumer behavior. Consumers have become dependent on handheld devices. They are basically the dashboard of our lives. That’s now transferring over to the employee experience.

branded employee app

It’s pretty clear that mobile apps impact nearly every aspect of our daily lives. An employee app merely transports that same ease-of-use, convenience, and capability into our work lives. After all, it’s similar to every other app that we use.

The benefits of an employee app stretch across the organization:

  • Ensure that everyone is in the know, keeping employees connected
  • Connect with a hard-to-reach global workforce made up of deskless, remote, and office workers
  • Personalization, so messages are always relevant
  • Create a two-way dialogue, so everyone’s voice is heard
  • Collect accurate workplace metrics to provide actionable insights

This is the technology of now. Not the future. Now.

If you don’t have an employee app, how innovative are you really in the eyes of your people? Here’s the reality: You’re already behind. There’s a fierce battle being waged for the attention of today’s workforce. The way you can ensure your employees are tuned in is to engage people the way they want. That means via employee mobile apps.

Consider these trends:

  • The vast majority of Americans—77 percent—now own smart phones according to the Pew Research Center.
  • 85 percent of U.S. adults get news through one, another Pew study found
  • 43 percent of employees work at least part of the time remotely, according to Gallup
  • People spend an estimated four hours a day on their phones, according to the New York Times
  • Adweek believes that figure is actually five hours a day, and that there’s an 88 percent year-over-year growth in time spent watching videos

So, there’s a golden opportunity for an employee app to impact productivity, engagement, and retention at your organization.

“They change the way we live, work, play, and interact with each other,” said Matthew Schuyler, CHIRO of Hilton, “but we’re all still trying to figure out how best to use these devices.”

As you think through the potential benefits, here are seven insanely logical reasons why an employee app makes sense for your workplace.

No. 1: Most employees are on the go

They can be called different names. Remote. Deskless. Dispersed. Frontline workers. Here’s another way to describe them: Your employees. And they need support.

The vast majority of the world’s 2.7 billion workers—80 percent—don’t sit at desks every day only tapping away at keyboards. They’re frontline employees on factory floors, walking hospital wards, working in agricultural fields, driving trucks, waiting on tables, and operating retail cash registers. They’re always moving.

Employee App Benefits

They also might not have access to the behind-a-firewall Intranet or email. This is especially an issue for contract workers as businesses increasingly rely on “the gig economy” (which is expected to reach 43 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2020).

All of these people have one thing in common.

They have mobile devices.

“It’s just especially difficult to reach people who aren’t sitting in front of a computer,” said Carey Peterson, the Director of Internal Communications at Sutter Health. “So, we really needed to reach employees where they’re at—and that’s their smartphones.”

An app can reach employees on their terms, so they feel more connected, more engaged, more informed, and can do their jobs more effectively. In a way, you’re letting them choose their own adventure. Or maybe better yet, you’re allowing them to participate in the company adventure.

No. 2: Cut through the noise

Employees are busy. They have jobs to do. They’re also inundated with work messages that often prove distracting from actually doing their jobs. So, while one portion of the workforce might be in an information drought (hello, remote workers!) another segment of your workers can have the opposite problem—they’re drowning in too much information. Internal communication gone haywire, indeed!

Their emails inboxes are overflowing. Collaborative resources such as Slack, research is beginning to show, can actually be anti-productivity tools because of the constant interruptions and the way need-to-know information gets completely lost in the shuffle of minutia. (“What’s for lunch today?”)

Gallup calls this “the golden age of business tech.” But paradoxically, the result can be reduced efficiency on the job. When Gallup asked global leaders whether they agree with the statement, “My company readily implements new technologies that help us to be more productive,” only 17 percent in the U.S. strongly agreed.

This helps explain why employees can reflexively tune out the company news that does reach them. Or they struggle valiantly to keep up with the flood of information. The impact can be devastating. One study found that once you’re derailed from a task, it takes nearly 25 minutes for a team member to get back on track.

The solution isn’t more communication.

It’s better employee communication.

An employee app isn’t about just adding another information channel. Instead, it lowers the noise volume by pulling together information silos into a single source of streamlined, relevant content. It’s a life preserver for those employees sinking in a sea of information in the digital workplace.

No. 3: Employees feel happy, not frustrated

We expect important stuff to come to us. We don’t want to go looking for it. This is what happens in our personal lives. We want in our work lives, too. Or else we get aggravated

Employee App Usage

“You need to bring content to people,” said Erica Rodriguez Pompen, Global Head of Public Relations at Micro Technology. “I don’t go to the Wall Street Journal looking for something. But the Journal pushes content to me because I’ve opted into that function. That’s the expectation we all have today. Content either needs to be pushed to you, or you have to be made aware that there’s a reason to visit a platform.”

She’s describing a distribution model. Information is sent to us, on our terms.

But too often, companies are rooted in a destination model for software. They expect employees to ferret out what they need. Searching through a clunky office Intranet for company news and resources, which is why they’re typically ghost towns filled with unread content. Filtering through countless internal communication emails to find what’s essential and what’s not. Trying to remember (good luck!) what channel or tools they saw something posted.

It’s exhausting, inefficient, and wastes time. It becomes work just to know what’s going on at work.

An employee communications app eliminates that frustration. It creates a frictionless, positive experience that’s familiar to the way we receive all of our information on our devices. Everything you need and want is at your fingertips.

No. 4: Not just for millennials

Millennials are endlessly teased about staring at their phones all the time.

It’s true that because they’ve mostly grown up with phones in their hands, they expect their company to rely on them as well. It’s why 41 percent of Millennials said they prefer to connect electronically at work rather than face-to-face or over the telephone, according to PwC. Also, 59 percent said that state-of-the-art technology was important to them when considering a job.

“When a young employee finds that an organization doesn’t communicate the way they’re accustomed to, they can more easily become disengaged and end up leaving,” said Elaine Branding, Senior Vice President of Internal Communications at FleishmanHillard. “Generally, Millennials don’t plan on staying at a place for a long time if they’re not happy. So, don’t stay up-to-date with current communications practices at your own peril. The world will move on, and your employees may, too.”

But here’s a news flash.

Everyone is entranced by their phone, regardless of age. (We’re looking at you, Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers.)

“You have to be able to have a conversation that reaches people, that seems real. That seems like it’s consequential, and intentional, and deliberate.”

Malcolm Gladwell, Bestselling Author/Journalist, Attune Summit

Yes, nine-in-10 Millennials (92 percent) own smartphones, the Pew Research Center found. But guess what? Pew determined that 85 percent of Gen-Xers and 67 percent of Baby Boomers own them, too.

Handheld devices have become omnipresent around the world. The global mobile population had reached 3.7 billion unique users in 2018, Statista found.

So, if virtually all of your people are on their phones, logically an employee communications app is the best way to engage them.

No. 5: When employees absolutely need to know

Employee App for Crisis

Something has happened.

Maybe it’s good news. Maybe it’s bad news. But people need to know. Quickly. Are you able to get a message to everyone—or to a specific location, division, or team—spread across your team of office or deskless workers?

All of us are accustomed to receiving alerts on our phone through apps. When management needs to share meaningful, even critical, information with the workforce, an app gives you the ability to send alerts to users. For instance, the Firstup platform can require that acknowledgement that employee communications have been read, so the company knows it’s been received.

This can be especially critical in a time of crisis when there are concerns about safety, and you need to know all of your people are accounted for and out of harm’s way.

No. 6: Confidence that you’re reaching your employees

The traditional way of measuring engagement or adoption of an initiative is to track output. How many emails were sent? What was put on the Intranet? How many messages were posted on collaboration channels? But those “analytics” leave open the question about who actually read any of it, and that needs to be part of your communications strategy.

An employee app, such as the Firstup technology, offers unprecedented insight into the performance of the content. Metrics include data related to platform activity, employee engagement, content performance, and external sharing. Ultimately, you have a better understanding if your messages are actually driving users to take the intended actions.

Armed with that information—and not just gut feelings—content creators and executives can see what’s working and what’s not. Then, they can refine their strategy based on what their employees want. They also can report that success to their leadership to show how the company communicates can impact the bottom line.

Belonging drives engagement
“We are focused on making employees feel like they belong, and that they are a part of the mission. Being able to actually see who is engaging with what content, who are our most engaged employees, is big.”

No. 7: Build a personal connection with your employees

An employee app enables companies to have conversations with each person – as an individual. It’s personalized, and it’s your brand. It’s like you’re having a one-on-one conversation. It builds company culture. And the employee can provide instant feedback. It can be by liking a post, making a comment, answering employee surveys, or offering his or her opinion in a real-time pulse survey.

It builds a more vibrant, closer, and deeper connection.

All of this comes with responsibility, of course.

“People have become addicted to their phones,” said Arianna Huffington, founder, and CEO of Thrive Global. “So, you always feel like you’re at work. That’s why we believe it’s important to unplug and recharge. We have to create a healthy relationship with our phone and learn to take back our lives, our time, and our attention.”

Like most things in life, the key is finding a balance.

You don’t want to make employees feel like they’re tethered to work, 24-7, fielding a constant barrage of push notifications that interrupt their off-time. After all, these are their devices. And besides, that’s a recipe for employee burnout.

The beauty of a company app is that your people can decide when they want to access your information – with the touch of a finger. It’s their choice to access the app. And in that respect, an employee app provides ease of mind that they’re not missing out on something vital that they should know.

Think digital communication is not a serious business need? Think again!

Our research found a disturbing disconnect between how companies believe they’re connecting with a distributed workforce and what actually is happening. Among the findings:

  • 85 percent of employees said they lose at least one to two hours of productivity a week searching for information
  • 80 percent of employees said they feel stressed because of ineffective company communication
  • 78 percent of employees said communication should be a higher priority for their workforce
  • 52 percent of employees have witnessed poor financial outcomes because of ineffective communication, including lost business and a damaged brand
  • 36 percent of employees said they don’t know where to find the information they need to do their work
  • 36 percent of employees said they have been in an unsafe situation because of poor communication

And finally:

  • 63 percent of employees are so frustrated by the way their company communicates with them that they’re ready to quit

Those findings are hardly unique. In a 2018 survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit, respondents “overwhelmingly indicated that poor communications at work can lead to stressful work environments, stalled careers, missed performance goals, and lost sales.”

These are the consequences of not communicating with your entire workforce. And increasingly, it’s impossible to do that without reaching your people on their devices. They have fundamentally changed the way we operate in our everyday lives. It’s long overdue for the working world to incorporate Employee App technology into the daily work lives of their people, too.

On top of that, it’s time to stop just talking to employees. Help give them the ability to listen and keep employees engaged in a real conversation.

It just makes sense to meet your employees where they are—on their mobile phones.

The Firstup fully branded mobile app delivers the most streamlined, relevant experience to every employee no matter where they are. Interested in learning more?

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