Building a smarter employee mobile app for communications and engagement

By now, all internal marketers, employee communications pros, human resources and corporate affairs folks should be on the employee mobile app bandwagon. If not, there is overwhelming evidence they will see employer brand engagement erosion over a short time period, eventually falling into oblivion—or that space no marketer wants to be in, employer brand awareness hell. Most of us have either been there or come skittishly close to the edge. But thankfully, most of us have also realized that the popularity of smartphones ruling the mobile market is only going to increase, and eventually dominate—replacing the computer as our primary digital means of communication. It’s like someone took the laptop and put it into our pockets. Most employees today communicate more so with their mobile device than their computer—even when their computer is right in front of them—say at the office. It’s the device of choice. Why? Because it’s smaller, easier and faster.

Not convinced? Ok, try this. According to Nielsen, more than 2/3 of the population has a smartphone running in their pocket, right now. The average user has it loaded with at least 41 apps, some used daily, some downloaded but seldom used. But it’s not just smartphone penetration that’s growing. And just like consumers, employees are also spending more time using them, as time spent using smartphones is set to overtake web usage on computers by the end of 2017. In fact, in the consumer world, mobile has exceeded traditional computer online time, and is on a trajectory to rival TV viewing time. You can imagine just how this will carry over to employees at work and how they will also fully adopt mobile as the standard.

What's causing this trend? We've met with literally hundreds of enterprises over the past year as we've scaled hubEngage as the leader in employee mobile apps and the one resounding thing we hear over and over is that if companies do not create the employee app platform for their people to play, participate, give feedback on and get content from, they will do it on their own using non-controlled and unsecured public channels such as Facebook groups, WhatsApp for messaging and Instagram to share photos and video.

As the shift towards this employee mobile workforce progresses, companies of all sizes are dashing to create the infrastructure to support employees, give them the mobile tools they need and weave in their messaging and content.

Ok, so you’ve decided to take the leap and create your own employee mobile app. So just take your awesome intranet and make it mobile, right? Unfortunately, this is the strategy we hear time and time again.

But we should be asking things like:

  • Let’s not just build an app, let’s have an engagement strategy behind how the thing works.
  • Don’t just copy your website and make it mobile—too much content--it's not segmented and irrelevant to different people.
  • Use the app to up-sell and cross sell products and services making your people brand ambassadors.
  • Wait, what about proximity—should I use my employees location, so I can offer more relevancy in the content I'm pushing out?
  • How about pushing notifying at the right time and place to get better engagement with essential communications such as vital news and feedback pulse surveys?

These are all questions we spark inside communications, marketing, HR and corporate affairs departments along with their IT counterparts every day. And with each question you see either one of two things; excitement for pushing the needle forward or complete bewilderment not having thought about any of these elements first. In some ways, it’s like déjà vu, right? Sort of like the late 90’s where everyone was rushing to create a website. The strategy back then was almost like “just take our print press kit materials and scan them into webpages”. Done. Today, that would seem outrageous.

So, don’t do it again to your employee mobile app. Think your employee engagement strategy and desired outcome for employee communications through thoroughly. Understand the difference in value your intranet and your independent employee mobile app will play. They are both critical, but have different strengths and weaknesses. Seems like a straightforward thing to do, but with so many ways to “build an employee mobile app”, you need a proper employee communications and engagement plan first. Just think, when someone looks at an intranet site, they are typically sitting down, plugged in, relaxed and have time. When you reach them on a mobile app, they are crossing the street, sitting on a train, passing short time, and looking for something on the go. You have to be short, sweet and to the point giving them what they want, when they need it and customizing it through personalization. Millennials for example want information gamified (they need that intrinsic motivation with the right rewards and recognition) and in bite-size pieces. They crave instant content and feedback gratification. On the other hand, baby boomers don;t have time for gamification. They want information straight and to the point--push notified with streaming content that makes sense to them and their roles. So, it’s not a one size fits all solution.

The second half of the equation is deep analytics that helps you understand your workforce better. Once your employees are using your app platform, makes sure your platform gives you metrics such as knowledge scoring, employee net promoter scoring, engagement levels, sharing and brand advocacy. These are critical to help you understand your workforce better and custom tailor future digital content to them. Smart employee app platforms like hubEngage measure these factors for you automatically and not only give you the big picture fast, but also use this data to re-target your employees with more information that makes more sense to them. Use segmentation to talk tot different employee audiences with custom content that will be more relevant to them them.

Are you ready to build your own smart employee mobile app for communications and engagement? If so, check out hubEngage. See how companies of all shapes and sizes are creating their own private, secure, employee mobile apps fast and cost effectively to get deeper engagement, knowledge sharing and better communications to their workforce instantly. Start a free trial today and see how powerful your own employee mobile app platform can be.


Download the white paper, Your Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Employee Engagement App, to view the app platform planning process in four easy-to-understand sections.


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