An employee app that reaches everyone – regardless of their location or mobile device, has the potential to not only improve but transform the everyday lives of frontline workers. This is especially true during times of crisis like the one we are experiencing right now with the COVID-19 global pandemic. But how do you launch a new employee comms platform under lockdown?

When you have thousands of employees who are dispersed in remote locations, with contrasting differences in culture and language, launching a digital employee comms platform can be challenging. Under normal circumstances we would recommend on-site activations to drive user adoption and uptake. Under lockdown however, success can still be achieved – the process just needs to look a little different.

Launching under Lockdown

Department Heads play a vital role as they are a respected and trusted source of information among their teams. Under lockdown, HODs need to share the message, information, instructions and download link with their team members in order to establish a waterfall effect in the organisation. Incentivise and encourage registrations with competitions and giveaways such as airtime and retail vouchers. Announce the winners on the platform to encourage further uptake through word of mouth. Surprise and delight employees with rewards for app activity such as completing a form, updating contact information, viewing content and engaging in the social feed. Create gifs that employees can share virally via existing platforms and whatsapp groups. Send emailers and digital collateral to desk-based employees, and prepare printed collateral that can be used onsite when employees return to work.

What happens on launch day is in fact just one factor that influences the overall success of the platform launch. Having successfully registered more than 600 000 employees for our clients, we’ve collected these learnings to create the following helpful how-to guide. The process begins right at the start of the journey, and follows the steps outlined below.

Scoping

Before the launch date is even an asterisk on the calendar, begin with scoping sessions to identify and understand the business case. This process involves asking key questions such as:

  • How do we want employees to use the platform?
  • Why would they sign up? What’s in it for them?
  • Who are the stakeholders across Management, HR, Corporate
  • Affairs and Comms?
  • How are employees going to respond to the technology?
  • Are there previous change management processes that we can learn from?
  • What will a successful launch look like?

Establishing buy-in

Once the scoping is complete, decide on a launch date and work backwards from there. Cross-reference against other events taking place in the business to avoid a negative impact, such as coinciding with a retrenchment or wage negotiations. Establishing buy-in from management and team leads is a critical step in the process. Start with those in the value chain who will be most affected by the success of your employee comms platform. Get them on board by hosting virtual info sessions that will help them to see how their lives are going to be made easier. Once management is on board, they’re more likely to prioritise filtering the right message through to the rest of the company. Where relevant, engage with unions to make sure they understand the importance of employees signing up and the benefits that the platform will bring.

Preparation and Campaigning

Understanding worker sentiment and the layers of education that may be required to prepare the workforce for the adoption of a new digital comms solution is critical to success. Create presentations and flyers that can be shared leading up to launch day. Highlight the benefits to employees as well as the purpose for the company and how that impacts everyone. The most successful launch days are built on the back of clear, “drip feed” campaigns leading up to the big day. With this approach, employees are already convinced of the benefits and are more likely to register without hesitation. Keep the message clear and consistent, emphasising the benefits for employees such as how it’s going to fast track HR admin processes.

Support

Have a support team in place with contact details readily accessible to assist with login or connectivity issues and any other barriers to entry. It’s also a good idea to define a quick and easy escalation process ahead of launch day to ensure smooth execution while providing visibility to management teams.