Communicating effectively with a large dispersed frontline workforce is challenging. The physical distance between employers and employees can lead to widespread feelings of isolation, while the lack of access to technology can cause delays in sharing information.

Ensuring all employees have the correct information they need to perform their daily functions is essential to the health and well-being of every organisation. Effective communication brings employees together, helps build trust, and creates a sense of purpose and shared vision.

An employee app removes the barriers to communication allowing employees to stay up-to-date, irrespective of their location or the technology available to them.

In this blog, we unpack what an employee engagement app is, as well as the trends, challenges, and benefits of building one.

What is an employee engagement app?

At its core, an employee app is a platform for internal communication. The focus is primarily on mobile, allowing employees to send and receive communication, training, and feedback via an application that works on both smartphones and feature phones.

An employee engagement app improves employee-employer alignment and employee productivity by simplifying company communications and ensuring each employee receives targeted and timely organisational information.

Why do you need an employee engagement app?

The majority of employees remain disengaged

According to Gallup’s report from 29 July 2021, employee engagement stabilised in the half first of this year. While it is good news that the wild fluctuations of 2020 have ceased, these statistics show only 36% of US employees are engaged, with a woeful 20% of global employees currently engaged in the workplace.

Reward and recognition are the secret weapons of an employee engagement app

An employee app provides a robust channel through which to execute a larger employee engagement strategy.

According to research compiled in a global study from the OC Tanner Institute, organisations that regularly practise receiving, observing, and giving recognition can increase employee engagement by 59%.

Receiving recognition

Being recognised for their contribution is the number one thing employees want from their employers, compared to employees who:

  • want autonomy (12%), or
  • want more money (7%), or
  • want a promotion (4%).

Companies that fail to recognise employees, even on a sporadic basis are doing themselves and their workforce a great disservice:

  • Employees are twice as likely to be disengaged if they are ignored by their manager.
  • 40% of employees are actively disengaged when they get little or no feedback.
  • 69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognised.

Observing recognition

When employees see others being recognised, it re-enforces what efforts are valued by the organisation and builds deeper trust between the employer and the employees. Observers understand the competence of the employee and respect the employer for noticing the work.

Giving recognition

When employers recognise their employees, they witness an increase in engagement.

To understand this context on a more profound level, it is time to turn our attention to the more granular detail around the chief trends governing employee communication today.

Trends dominating employee engagement apps today

Trend #1: Mobile devices are being prioritised
Mobile employee engagement apps make it very easy to segment the messages sent to employees on a qualitative level. This is exceptionally valuable to global organisations with business concerns on multiple continents, and especially important when a workforce comprises frontline workers.

An employee engagement mobile app makes communication accessible to frontline workers who don’t have access to traditional communication channels like email or the company intranet. They also expand the communication features available beyond simple messaging, allowing for better engagement and interaction.

Trend #2: Engagement is being made to account for its value
It is simply not enough to know what messages to send and when to send them. Employee engagement apps need to add value to the business’s greater aspirations.

If you operate within a multinational company with a large dispersed workforce, email communication is unlikely to be as effective as communication sent through a mobile application. This is especially true when you need to:

  • convey short messages;
  • send critical communication;
  • disperse leadership video updates;
  • send last-minute reminders;
  • communicate with off-site employees;
  • touch base with new hires; and
  • send emergency notifications.

Trend #3: Employees are the biggest communication asset
This is not solely because they desire better, more considered, and deeper communication. They are both the target of your communication strategy and the enabler.
Identifying employees who can participate in, and contribute to, the conceptualisation and execution of your communication strategy will help develop valuable ambassadors for your employee app.

Features of an effective employee app

Once you have decided to adopt an employee engagement app, be sure to include the following six features:

  1. The ability to send critical communications and company news.
  2. A resource portal that houses all essential digitised company documents and material.
  3. Collaborative software that enables one-on-one and group chats for employees.
  4. A recognition and rewards programme.
  5. Seamless integration with existing workplace tools.
  6. A facility to capture, collate and report on direct feedback from employees.

Challenges of building an employee engagement app

Deploying a new employee app across an organisation with a large dispersed workforce brings with it a unique set of challenges. These include:

  1. Low app adoption: 63% of managers say that the pace of establishing new technology in their organisations is too slow.
  2. Lack of C-suite support: Without the right support from leaders, employee engagement app goals may not be aligned with larger business objectives.
  3. No retention: Company engagement apps need to be relevant and personalised for employees for them to become routine for the workforce.
  4. Communication information is difficult to publish: The company app should create more time in the day, not more work.
  5. No established rules about employees’ phones: Bring your own device (BYOD) is a win-win solution for all but must factor in security, safety at work (especially in manufacturing jobs), and termination policies.

Benefits of building an employee engagement app

The goal of every employee app is to increase employee engagement by making it easier for employees to communicate and interact with their organisation. Here are some of the benefits of higher engagement levels:

  • Increased employee safety: Research has shown that 70% fewer safety incidents occur in highly engaged workplaces.
  • Better employee health: In a Gallup report from 3 August, of the three top criteria for an attractive employer, employees of all generations ranked ‘the organisation that cares about employees’ wellbeing in the top two.
  • Happier employees: Highly engaged organisations do not have to resort to mechanisms like peer pressure, termination, or other high-stress behaviours to motivate employees.
  • Greater employee satisfaction: A company that invites greater engagement from its employees will develop a reputation for acknowledging its employees’ voices.
  • Better home life for employees: Engaged employees are beneficial to more than just the workplace; they are beneficial to their families too. They do not complain about their job to a significant other, have the energy to play with the kids after work, and generally make a positive contribution to a positive home atmosphere.
  • Lower absenteeism: Highly engaged workplaces have shown 41% lower absenteeism rates.
  • Higher employee retention: When employees cannot utilise their strengths, do not feel challenged, or do not enjoy their work (all hallmarks of low engagement), they are more likely to leave their current employer.
  • Greater employee loyalty is built through a culture of reciprocity.
  • Better customer service: Engaged employees care deeply about their jobs, and therefore their customers.
  • Greater productivity: Engaged employees are 17% more productive than their peers.
  • Higher sales, profitability and stock price.

Key Takeaways

Communicating effectively with a large dispersed frontline workforce is challenging. Employee apps allow organisations to communicate quickly and accurately while enabling additional tools that enhance communication and foster engagement.

Employee apps have the ability to reduce friction between employees and their organisations and when supported with the right content and a robust reward and recognition strategy, have the ability to unlock the benefits of an engaged workforce.

Are you ready to learn more about how an employee app can help your business? Talk to one of our employee engagement experts.

Unleash Tomorrow.