Tag Archives: Mobile

Are mobile apps for internal communication really worth it?

According to a 2016 Employeechannel survey, 57 percent of HR leaders across the United States say they’re evaluating mobile apps for communicating with employees. Even more staggering: 87 percent of employees said they would use a mobile app for internal communications if one was available.

But what does that mean, really? It definitely doesn’t mean employees want to be force-fed an app that doesn’t help them do they things they normally do day-to-day.

Often, that’s what’s happening when leaders make pushes to bring mobile apps into the communications fold. In an interview with Marginalia, Maribel Lopez of Lopez Research says businesses often just go for something trendy.

“Sometimes, organizations just buy a solution that looks good, but when they try to implement it, they cannot connect it to the existing data,” Lopez says. “At that point, the company realizes that it has to buy another solution, wasting time and money.”

So what does that 87 percent of employees who say they would use a mobile app really want? There’s no way to know from the survey data, but Connecteam offers this advice: “the best app is the one that most easily fits into the processes your employees are already used to.”

That’s why business leaders and communicators looking to add mobile communications to their employee engagement plans should consider starting with the easiest, most cost effective, and certainly most often over-looked mobile communication app out there – email.

All you need is an email address for every employee, even if they don’t work at a desk. That is certainly a more inclusive approach, and once that aligns with the current communication trends. According to PoliteMail’s 2017 Email Metrics Benchmark survey, mobile access of email has grown 48 percent since 2015.

The most important considerations when choosing an app is not selecting the one with the most buzz or best sales pitch. Generally companies will consider cost and features, but often forget to consider the most expensive item.

In terms of cost, you can expect apps to run roughly $3 to $4 per user per month. In terms of features, generally employees want access to work schedules, benefits information, PTO and company news.

The forgotten but significant cost consideration is process. How will you get the data and information into the app and push it out? Generally these are not systems that are in place. So who is going to configure and support it? Will it be secure? How much extra work does it create for the communications team once it’s up and running?

Trying to shoehorn in a buzzworthy app that does not provide satisfactory answers to all those questions might be far more trouble than it’s worth. Careers rarely advance as a result of sponsoring expensive, under-utilized shiny new things with low adoption rates.

There is certainly a growing appetite for mobile internal communications, yet it doesn’t have to be totally brand new to be successful. Start simply and give employees a way of comfortably and reliably receiving and responding to communications in the palms of their hands.

Learn more about how organizations are communicating with employees by downloading PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey Results.

How to engage a multi-generational workforce

By 2020—not too far off—five different generations will be represented in the workforce, and they’ll all have different communication styles.

Traditionalists who were born before 1946, will be sharing office space with Gen 2020, people born after 1997. And of course, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials will be in the mix, too. The first generation to embrace television will be shoulder-to-shoulder with generations for whom a world without smartphones feels like ancient history.

That presents a challenge for communicators who need to effectively message all those employees so they’re all working toward a common goal. How do you get everyone engaged, with shared purpose?

It’ll likely take a multi-pronged approach. According to Staff Management, it’s not just about technological differences. Members of different generations have different values, with some expecting a more hands-off approach, while others want regular feedback and recognition. Staff management advocates for trying lots of approaches:

In a multigenerational environment, it is wise to mix and match strategies like the team-building events favored by younger workers and the opinion-sharing practices promoted by their older counterparts. Younger generations might feel more comfortable communicating their thoughts when they feel like they know their coworkers, while older generations might need a structured forum in order to weigh in on key decisions.

Staff Management also recommends face-to-face interactions, as does Dana Brownlee, founder of training and management consulting firm Professionalism Matters, in an article in Business News Daily: “Bringing staff members of different generations together for face-to-face team-building exercises and ice breakers can help break down some of the barriers that can occur with digital communications.”

That same Business News Daily article warns that communicators and business leaders shouldn’t get bogged down in stereotypes. While workers of different ages will certainly have different methods and ideas, it isn’t fair to underestimate them or assume they’ll have certain flaws.

In another article at Forbes, corporate trainer Dana Brownlee notes, “It becomes very frustrating when you communicate with someone in a mode that they don’t like.” She advises that “workers across all age groups to individualize their approach by learning their coworkers’ preferences and attempting to meet in the middle.”

Once again, that likely means using numerous channels to communicate with employees, since face-to-face communication isn’t often the most feasible way to stay connected. It also means delivering messages through different platforms.

For example, consider sending emails that can be read across different devices. While some older employees may prefer to read email on a desktop computer, sending mobile-optmized emails means employees who prefer to view messages on their smartphones will get what they want, too.

Learn more about how communicators are measuring which internal communications work best by downloading PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey Results.

Can your organization reach employee smartphones without investing in a mobile app?

From flyers on bulletin boards to digital signage in the lunch room to posters inside bathroom stalls, internal communicators have placed messages in all kinds of different places to try to get employees’ attention and keep them informed.

Within the last decade, employees have equipped themselves with convenient, versatile devices that are the perfect venue for direct communications. They’re small computers with a large screens that they carry around nearly all the time, and most people often glance at those screens throughout the workday.

The ubiquitous smartphone. And they’re easier to reach than many communicators think.

Yet many organizations haven’t tapped into their potential. According to PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey, only 5 percent of communications professionals think of their own organizations’ mobile solutions as effective. Only 30 percent have intranets that are accessible via mobile devices, and just a little more than half send mobile responsive email messages.

Only about a third (35 percent) think of mobile as the best way to reach employees and deserving of research, even though 84 percent of respondents themselves check their work emails using their mobile devices.

According to research from Informate Mobile Intelligence conducted in 2015—so the numbers are likely even higher now—Americans spent 4.7 hours on their phones each day. That’s about a third of their waking time. It would seem that the mobile audience is a captive audience.

So why aren’t more organizations moving toward using mobile apps or other mobile communication tools? It could be budgetary. In the PoliteMail survey, a whopping 70 percent of communicators said they don’t expect their budgets to increase or barely have any budget for new technology at all.

Also, more than half (54 percent) of respondents said their communications departments are understaffed and can’t get everything done, let alone add a new channel.

Or it could also be a matter of training. A little more than a third of respondents said they simply don’t know how to implement a mobile strategy.

But you don’t necessarily need an app or a mobile-optimized intranet to communicate internally via mobile devices. Every mobile device comes with an email client built right in. All an organization needs is an effective email strategy.

Mobile hurdles, may not seem easy to clear, but Inc. spells out the need for mobile internal communication in this post by Jeremy Goldman, founder and CEO of brand engagement consultancy Firebrand Group.

“Mobile is not only the current medium of the choice, it’s the future,” Goldman writes. “Leaders should be proactive in establishing a mobile-friendly workplace by ensuring all assets are compatible with mobile.”

According to new research by PoliteMail, employees with company email addresses will check email on their smartphones 38 percent of the time.

Instead of yet another app, it would seem the easiest way to reach employees where they are, is just to make sure they all have a company email address.