We’re looking back on our favorite blog posts of 2019. This is the second in our series of popular articles.
How do you react when you’ve misplaced your mobile device?
- Launch into a mild panic
- Mutter (or yell) bad 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 for 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 communications technology enables employees to receive personalized, relevant, and time-sensitive information from their organization, wherever they are, on their mobile devices simply by accessing an app or through push notifications – so they stay informed about the company and can do their jobs more efficiently.
“Employee behavior really is evolving, and it’s following the path we’ve seen with consumer behavior,” said David Armano, Global Strategy Director at Edelman. “That was really the canary in the coal mine. Consumers have become so dependent on mobile devices. They are basically the dashboard of our lives. That’s now transferring over to the employee experience.”
It’s pretty clear that mobile device 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
- Connect with hard-to-reach deskless and remote employees
- Personalize communication, so messages are always relevant
- Create a two-way dialogue, so everyone’s voice is heard
- Collect accurate 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 your workforce. The way you can ensure your employees are tuned in is to engage people the way they want. That means on their mobile devices.
Consider these mobile device trends:
- The vast majority of Americans – 77 percent – now own smartphones 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, of smartphones at the Great Places to Work For All 2018 Summit. “But we’re all still trying to figure out how best to use these devices.”
As you think through the potential benefits for your business, here are seven insanely logical reasons why an Employee App makes sense.
No. 1: Most Employees Are on the Go
They can be called different names. Remote. Deskless. Dispersed. Front line. Here’s another way to describe them: Your employees.
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 on factory floors, walking hospital wards, working in agricultural fields, driving trucks, waiting on tables, and operating retail cash registers. They’re always moving.
They also might not have access to the behind-a-firewall Intranet or company 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 Employee App engages workers on their terms, so they feel more connected, 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.
Their emails inboxes are overflowing. Collaborative tools 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 business 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 communication 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 to get back on track.
The solution isn’t more communication. It’s better 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.
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.
“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. They expect employees to ferret out what they need. Searching through a clunky Intranet, which is why they’re typically ghost towns filled with unread content. Filtering through countless emails to find what’s essential and what’s not. Trying to remember (good luck!) what channel they saw something posted on the company collaborative tool.
It’s exhausting, inefficient, and wastes time. It becomes work just to know what’s going on at work.
An Employee App eliminates that frustration. It creates a friction-less, positive experience that’s familiar to the way we receive all of our information on our mobile 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 mobile devices in their hands, they expect their company to rely on them as well. It’s why 41 percent of Millennials said they prefer to communicate 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.)
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.
Mobile 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 mobile devices, an Employee App logically is the best way to engage them.
No. 5: When Employees Absolutely Need to Know
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 in the company – or to a specific location, division, team?
All of us are accustomed to receiving push notifications on our mobile devices through apps. When you need to share meaningful, even critical, information with the workforce, an Employee App gives you the ability to send alerts. For instance, the Dynamic Signal platform can require that employees acknowledge they’ve read the message, 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 communication 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.
An Employee App, such as Dynamic Signal’s award-winning 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 people 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 the impact on the business.
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. It’s like you’re having a one-on-one conversation. And the employee can provide instant feedback. It can be by liking a post, making a comment, 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 mobile devices. And besides, that’s a recipe for employee burnout.
The beauty of an Employee App is that your people can decide when they want to access your company 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!
Dynamic Signal’s 2019 State of Employee Communication and Engagement Study found a disturbing disconnect between how companies believe they’re connecting workers 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 company
- 52 percent of employees have witnessed poor financial outcomes because of ineffective communication, including lost sales and damaged company reputation
- 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
- 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 mobile devices. They have fundamentally changed the way we operate in our everyday lives. It’s long overdue for the business 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 engage in a real conversation with the company.
It just makes business sense to meet your employees where they are – on their mobile devices.
- Five Principles for Employee Communications
- How to Top the Charts with Your Mobile Employee Communication App
- Productivity Statistics: Everything You Need to Know in 2019
- Speaking Millennial: Employee Communication for a Changing Workforce
- 2019 State of Employee Communication and Engagement Study
- Great Places to Work and the Growing Role of Mobile Devices
- Eight Steps for Modernizing Employee Communications in the Digital Workplace (subscription required)
- Learn More about Dynamic Signal