According to a 2016 Employee channel 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.