Employee using internal communications employee mobile app

The Employee Mobile App: Deliver a Consumer Experience to Your Workforce

As a Marketing Copywriter working within one of IBM’s Marketing business units nearly two decades ago, I helped edit a whitepaper on a little-known technology at the time— Wireless Application Protocol (WAP). 

Targeted to content creators working in the ad and film industries, the whitepaper outlined how they share and distribute digital assets from the field to their production studios and offices. This was the first time I thought about the possibilities of creating and distributing content using a wireless device.

The Remote Employee Mobile App Experience 

Twenty years later, my role at Cerkl centers on helping companies inform and engage their employees. Today, we don’t typically ponder the wonders of mobile technology. Mobile notifications are as routine as our morning coffee. Mobile technology undoubtedly has changed our lives, with sales expected to gross more than $2.9 trillion (yes, trillion!) this year. However, companies of all sizes have not caught up with the mobile technology boom that has played a considerable role in our personal lives. With 2.7 billion deskless workers globally, most companies don’t offer mobile platforms to engage these employees.

Several years ago, I helped promote a company-branded mobile app within a large organization. While leadership and corporate employees used the mobile app, adoption rates were lower among frontline employees. Arguably, these dispersed employees in sales, technical operations, and customer care needed to stay engaged most. Looking back, the app most likely didn’t resonate because it was not personalized; it didn’t utilize push notifications and didn’t offer employees essential self-service tools.

The Pandemic’s Impact on Internal Communications

Covid-19 has changed how we inform and engage a remote workforce. More employees than ever before, across dozens of industries, are working from home. Our work and our personal lives are more fluid. With more corporate emails exchanged, inboxes are bursting at the seams. Companies like French IT services company Atos announced it would drastically reduce internal email as it was negatively impacting productivity. That’s because the average employee receives, on average, 100+ emails a day. This pandemic shone a light on the shortcomings of email communication, especially as most staff transitioned to remote work. Multi-channel communication is a necessity. More companies embrace new communications channels to successfully shift operations during these challenging times and retool operations to remain competitive. Within Cerkl, collaboration tools, employee social platforms, and mobile are connected to track cross-channel employee engagement.

Designing a Modern Employee Mobile App Experience

But not all apps are equal. An employee engagement app must deliver a modern experience that enables employees to receive relevant, personalized company news and time-sensitive updates (push notifications) to stay informed and engaged. Many companies enable self-service tools, like travel and expense reporting, time and attendance, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems via a mobile app. Usually, various vendors offer individual apps. When these apps are grouped together, employees can access a singular one-stop mobile experience. 

At Cerkl, we believe companies need to treat their employees like customers because employees are just as critical to an organization’s success. In July, we introduced our new employee engagement app, Cerkl Broadcast for Mobile, to the marketplace. Our philosophy differs from many software vendors that provide a one-stop mobile app. We don’t believe in a mobile-first solution knowing that employees’ content consumption patterns are often fluid, and they read content on the intranet, via email, and on their mobile apps. Instead, we connect all of these channels with Intelligent Content Delivery (patent pending) to track employees’ content consumption journeys to deliver coordinated, personalized experiences.

Make Employee Experience Personal

A mobile app featuring a central repository for company news most likely won’t engage employees. However, if you personalize the mobile app experience with specific news offerings based on what employees need to know plus what they have explicitly told you what they want to hear more about, adoption will exponentially increase. When information is relevant to employees based on role, team/business unit, and personal interests, such as volunteer opportunities, health, and wellness or professional development, employees will keep returning.

Create a One-Stop Mobile Work Hub 

When deploying an employee engagement app, we should all look at consumer research. There’s often a disconnect between employees and customers. To an extent, employees are consumers, too. Before deploying an app, research how your employees are consuming company information. What prompts them to open and read a piece of company news? Is it compliance-driven or do they engage with specific topics more than others? By pairing personalized news (targeted information to employees along with interest-based content) with critical self-service tools, you’re providing a platform focused on convenience. These features work in tandem to deliver a quality user experience.

A study conducted by eMarketer suggests that adults spend most of their time on apps when utilizing a mobile device. Across the nation, adults will spend 3 hours 43 minutes on their mobile devices every day, out of which 2 hours and 57 minutes will be spent on mobile apps. A more recent study showed the pandemic increased the time on mobile by 23 additional minutes per day. The employee app becomes powerful when time and attendance, expense reporting, employee directories, and collaboration tools like Slack or Microsoft® Teams are added as features.

Prioritize Content with Meaningful Push Notifications

I quickly turn off notifications or delete an app altogether when bombarded with mundane push notifications that aren’t meaningful reminders. Nearly all consumer apps utilize push notifications like coupons or insider sale events. Most of us who interact with mobile apps, receive one-line offers or reminders queued up on our home screens. So, it makes perfect sense that an employee app should utilize push notifications for which we’re all accustomed.

As a communications team, it’s essential to research how mobile push notifications will resonate with your employees. They all must qualify as must-see communications. Breaking company news, security alerts, important leadership updates, and messages requiring employees to take action are valid notifications. However, it’s crucial to look at the combination of potential notifications hitting mobile devices all within a compressed period. Too many notifications could negatively impact the user experience. It’s a balancing act. Internal communicators need to manage the proverbial runway as “air traffic controllers” to manage the amount of push notifications.

As a Cerkl IC expert with more than 20 years of comms experience with Fortune 500 to midsize companies, I can give you a hand with everything from the best approaches for communicating organizational change to help execute communications strategies through technology. Contact me via LinkedIn or request a no-pressure chat to learn more.

I'm a strategic business partner who is passionate about supporting clients' internal communications programs in order to personalize the employee experience and give life to a brand's message through storytelling.