Companies with engaged employees outperform those without by 202%, customer retention rates are 18% higher when employees are highly engaged and organisations that have over 50% employee engagement retain over 80% of their customers. Engagement is 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.

Employee Engagement, Employee Happiness

Low employee engagement equals lowers customer service and profits, results in employees taking more sick days and increases turnover rates. High engagement in comparison boosts the productivity, causes employees to stay at their current job and helps to retain customers.

In the next years it will hence 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 has to go mobile.

Mobile does not only change the top-down monologue that dominates business communication into a horizontal dialogue, but also enhances the employee experience. And it’s about time that companies think of the employee experience the same way they would of user experience.

Millennials already expect mobile communication. They are the ultimate technology natives and they want information to be fast, interactive and accessible from everywhere. In addition, employees today value transparency as one of the most important aspects when considering where to work.

 

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

 

Furthermore, your workforce is already using their mobile devices. In fact, 72% of employees already use mobile devices. Which also is why BYOD is such a big trend. Allowing employees to use devices they are used to and 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 to get information. Why not for work?

Apps are mobile, easily integrate themselves into your employee's lives, have a high usability, are low in cost and time effort, increase engagement, enable social sharing, come in a channel that is already in your employee's pockets, have an extremely high reach and enable push notifications.

They support your employer brand, can be implemented within 4 weeks, facilitate different languages, empower collaborations, give your employees a chat that is not on WhatsApp or Facebook and open up content creation to everybody.

 

Apps are able to function with or next to your intranet, you are able to include SharePoint, all workers are able to have access, security can be molded to specific needs, use cases can be adapted and they take over from traditional channels like a newsletter.

 

Workplace Technologies

 

 

Apps are the future of workplace communication.

 

 

How to get started – 10 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 to convince your leadership? Key is to have a clear understanding of what your organization is trying to achieve, and why. This will help you 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 start an employee app pilot with a limited number of locations or at a leadership conference.

 

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

 

If you would 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 time and in cost.

A custom app project takes approximately 18 months to develop and launch. If you have a full IT team specialised in mobile applications that is. The Staffbase SaaS in comparison enables you to go from idea to your own branded app in just 30 days.

 

Staffbase App, employee app

 

The cost for an custom app ranges between $200k and $1.000k. Plus maintenance. And take into account that this is for an application that has never been tried or tested by users. A SaaS solution has often already been verified by other companies, use cases are tested and the value has been proven. In addition the cost is significantly lower because 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 your information on your employees it defeats the whole purpose of wanting to engage them. This voluntariness has to be executed on two fronts. Firstly, by facilitating BYOD and secondly by making the app download voluntary.

 

Already more than 50% of companies allow their employees to bring their own device and an additional 15% plan on doing so in the next 12 months.

 

BYOD, employee app, employee engagement

There will, naturally, be voices that speak up against using private phone for work matters. Key here, as well as for your employee to be motivated to download the app, is to create additional value for your employees, which is achieved over the right use cases.

 

#4 Native vs. web app

Native apps are those apps deployed over the public app store while a web app is plainly said a websites accessed through a mobile browser on the smartphone. Native apps are the better solution for an employee engagement app because they are deployed over public app stores and because they facilitate push notifications.

 

Being deployed over the public app store enhances your employees user experience on the one hand, because they are used to the process and on the other hand because updates are automatically applied.

 

A web app does not only lack the easy user experience but also is also often limited in access and easy installation, thus being only suitable for a very 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 use cases your decide to roll out are so important.

 

The following use case collection labels the use cases that create additional value with a heart. Launch your app with at least one of these heart-cases in order to ensure onboarding numbers and then grow from there.

 

Use cases employee app, staffbase, employee engagement

 

Learn more on 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 consider what you plan on doing inside the app. Mobile needs a new approach to content and functionality. When setting up your app content remember that this is not the dumping ground for old intranet or newsletter content.

 

An app provides the opportunity to reach your employees in completely different and more diverse situations. Waiting in the bus, between meeting, from home or at lunch. The bigger part of your content should be short, easy to read on the go, relevant for your employees and, ideally, created by your employees. Longer pieces can be part of your long time plan but is only appropriate when it’s relevant long term.

 

Follow this guideline to see if your content is APPropriate:

Content Guide line, mobile content, employee app

 

 

#7 Security Guidelines

Consider security inside the app as well as outside.

 

Inside the app there are two central aspects. Firstly, limit the information you put online. Not every piece of content you create should be part of your app. Consider the following content security guideline:

 

Content, security, employee app

 

Secondly, consider the lifetime of your user’s sessions. On the one hand it is of course easier if employees just stay logged in, but on the other hand you should consider the maximum lifetime of user sessions and adjust them to the security based on company policies.

 

Outside consider on the one hand the login credentials and on the other hand where the app is supposed to be hosted. We offer multiple onboarding techniques for all different levels of security and you are 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 now have to decide is what onboarding technique you want to choose.

 

#9 Align with Your Intranet Roadmap

An employee app can be viewed as channel displaying the intranet or as addition to the intranet. What you have 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 solutions is a CMS. This ready-to-go system stands between the app and your intranet and holds all information that is not highly confidential and highly relevant for your employees. This way the content can be pushed to both the intranet and the app but stays safe nethertheless.

 

#10 Rollout Strategie

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

 

A soft launch enables you to start the app project and build it with your employees. Your avoid launching a much anticipated project that your users don’t like and build an app with them instead.

 

In addition, use cases need to be developed, specified and adapted. Your app is a growing platform that adapts to all situations in the company with flexible plugins. A soft launch supports this approach and enhances the growth of value.

 

 

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

 

Free Ebook: Internal Communications App - 8 Key Points To Get Started

 

 

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 or read more on the topic here:

Written by Sina Lockley

Sina is a communication specialist at Staffbase. She wants to help companies engage their employees and find ways to make work more fun. She writes about internal communication, mobile employee engagement and how to use an app in today's evolving workforce. She religiously reads one book a week and sleeps with pen and paper next to her head.