How to use apps to encourage collaboration and engagement in the workplace
Let’s face it, your staff probably spend a lot of time on their mobile phones and there is not much you can do about it. Studies have shown that people are spending up to five hours a day on their smartphones, while a third of us keep our phones by our bedside so that we can check emails during the night. Businesses cannot afford to ignore the potential impact of the smartphone on employee productivity.
For employers, this provides a massive opportunity – one of the best ways of capturing the attention and imagination of your employees is through their smartphones. It is worth noting that of those five hours of smartphone activity each day, 90% is spent on apps That’s very different behaviour to when we sit at a desktop PC, browsing the web. As an employer are you making the most of this opportunity?
When it comes to communicating with staff it is vital that you choose the best way to keep in touch and consider which types of communication will best engage them. Working with staff to understand how they like to communicate and then giving them what they want is a great way to kickstart engagement. Based on the amount of time employees are already spending on their phones, creating an employee engagement app can be the most effective method, and is not as hard as you may think.
App-y Employees are Happy Employees
It is notoriously difficult to define employee engagement but there is one thing we know for certain: there are solid links between happiness and employee engagement. Happier employees are likely to be more engaged at work – fact. The 2014 University of Warwick’s study found that “human happiness has large and positive causal effects on productivity”  So, the happier employees are, the more productive they will be, which is a win-win for employees and for your business.
Making all employee benefits and comms accessible in one place, via an app means that staff have everything they need right at their fingertips. Gone are the days of wasting time trawling the company intranet for some information that might be out of date once you get to it. Today, staff want everything in real-time and an employee engagement app can do just that, and more.
Communicate anytime, anywhere
With staff spending so much time on their mobile phones, it makes sense for organisations to use this to their advantage. Smartphones are as powerful, if not more so than most desktops and can hold everything that is important to employees. Instead of investing in an extensive corporate social network or communications infrastructure, why not send messages straight to your employee’s mobile phone? An employee benefits app that provides everything in one place is not only convenient, but it empowers the employee to make the most of the variety of benefits available to them. Whether in the office, out on site, or relaxing at home, staff can book time off, access holiday and retail discounts, or even seek confidential advice and support. An app provides the privacy, convenience and accessibility to utilise their benefits when it suits them.
There are many sectors where staff don’t even have access to a work email address or if they do, they are rarely sat still long enough to sit and read the latest updates from HR. With an app staff can get involved, at their leisure and never feel like they are missing out on anything.
Another way to keep staff involved and encourage a collaborative workforce is to ask for and use employee feedback. When you have feedback to give, an annual review or quarterly survey can feel like a long time to wait. A notification can be all it takes to remind staff that you care, ask what they think or to invite them to join the conversation.
Collaboration and feedback are key when it comes to making an employee benefits programme a success. Don’t guess what your staff are looking for and then be surprised when adoption is low and feedback isn’t great. Asking for their opinion shows you care, and ensures that the content is what they want to see. Asking for feedback on the app can result in constant improvements and you may be surprised at what people really value from their benefits package.
You can’t manage what you can’t measure
How do you know if your staff are happy with their benefits? With an engagement app you can drill down into the data to show what your staff are looking at, which benefits are most popular and how they are using the app. This provides invaluable insight including everything from retail spend to which elements of your EAP are being used the most and at which times of year. This data can provide the basis of a communications programme tailored to the interests and behaviours of your staff to boost employee adoption and uptake of services.
But remember, technology won’t fix everything…
As much as we would like to say it does, technology will never solve the engagement problem on its own. Technology for its own sake is never the answer. The greatest technology in the world will never improve your business unless people know about it, use it and see a real value for them in it. Making something available will not automatically make it a success. Our advice is to ensure you have face-to–face conversations with staff about the benefits programme and the app, how they use it and what it can do for them. Apps are huge part of how your employees spend their time online and they are here to stay, ask yourself how can you use the time employees are spending on their phones to improve employee engagement, make your staff happier, and generate greater productivity?
 (UK productivity back at pre-crash level, but lagging behind G7, October 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/oct/06/uk-productivity-back-at-pre-financial-crisis-level-office-for-national-statistics, 2016)
 (10 Interesting mobile app usage stats, June 2016, https://blogs.adobe.com/digitaleurope/mobile-marketing/10-interesting-mobile-app-usage-stats/, 2016).
 (New study shows we work harder when we are happy, March 2014, http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/new_study_shows/, 2016)