The events of the past two years have completely changed the way we work – and there’s no going back.

The effects of the pandemic have been felt by many employees, with a recent McKinsey survey finding that almost 50% of respondents were experiencing burnout symptoms at work.

This is best exemplified by the so-called Great Resignation: more people are quitting their jobs than ever before. And, according to a recent poll, more than one in five Americans who are currently employed intend to leave their jobs in the next year.

For company leaders and HR professionals, there has never been a more important time to communicate effectively with your workforce – no matter where they’re based. But the steep rise in work-from-home and hybrid work policies doesn’t make this easy.

Don’t panic: with the right tools and processes, it’s possible to set up an internal communication strategy that works for your company. And the benefits are numerous: proper internal communications can give your team purpose, increase motivation, and even reduce attrition.

Sound good? If you want to see results like these (and many more benefits besides), you might want to consider using an employee app.

What is an employee app?

An employee app is any tool or platform that’s designed to make work easier. There are many different apps available, from easy real-time internal communication tools to apps offering simplified collaboration on projects. We’ll cover some of the main types of employee apps available (including some examples) further on.

Using an employee app, you can give your team on-demand access to the personalized, relevant, and useful information they need to do their job. You can also create a digital space where staff can communicate openly, collaborate effectively, and even build workplace relationships – wherever they are.

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5 reasons your company should be using an employee app for internal communications

How many apps do you use every day? According to the New York Times, the average person spends four hours a day on their phone – and that was in 2019, before the pandemic increased our propensity for doomscrolling and searching for the best sourdough recipe. So, why not meet your employees where they already are, and offer them useful information, communication tools, and updates, on an app they can access right from their phones?

There are many benefits associated with the use of employee apps. Using an employee mobile app can help you to:

1. Communicate more effectively with your entire workforce

The COVID-19 pandemic shifted a large proportion of the information workforce to remote work, almost literally overnight. And it’s clear that traditional communication methods are not fit for the new world of work.

Employee apps can replace – and work alongside – the methods of employee communication you already use. For example, Workvivo offers integrations with workplace communication tools such as Slack and Microsoft Teams, so your team can communicate in real-time, all in one place.

2. Bring more attention to your internal communication 

Research has found that only 60% of companies have a properly defined internal communications strategy. And for those that do, one of the biggest challenges internal comms professionals face is getting people to actually read their emails – according to Campaign Monitor, the average open rate for internal emails across organizations is just 66%.

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By consolidating your internal communications in one location – ideally one with a familiar and engaging interface that your employees actually want to use – you can get more eyes on your content, and make sure everyone has access to the information they need.

3. Boost engagement, increase employee productivity and staff retention

According to a recent survey, a third of Human Resources managers thought poor communication was the biggest driver in low workplace morale. And this can have a big effect on the company’s bottom line: Gallup estimates that disengaged employees cost the US economy $450 billion to $550 billion every year.

Employee engagement is driven by many factors, with pay fairness and coaching opportunities being some of the major ones. Gallup’s Q12 survey also identifies employees knowing what is expected of them, having the materials they need to do their job, receiving employee recognition and praise, and feeling that their opinions count as key drivers – all of which can be achieved with a well-implemented internal communications strategy and an employee app. It’s important to understand engagement levels.

4. Build an open and accountable company culture

According to Gallup data, only 13% of employees felt that their company’s senior leadership was effectively communicating with the rest of the organization. And, according to IBM, 72% of employees do not fully understand their company’s strategy.

This is in spite of the fact that transparency and open workplace communication can lead to higher employee productivity, lower turnover, and increased engagement: Forbes says that transparency and trust are far more important for company culture than flashy perks.

By using an employee app to communicate openly and regularly with employees, company leaders can create a transparent (and more productive) work environment for everyone.

 5. Access valuable data and insights

Accurate data is one of the best tools internal comms teams, Human Resources professionals, and company leaders have at their disposal – if they know how to use it. Well-built employee apps can give leaders access to data and insights about what content employees are interacting with, so you can easily see what really matters to your team.

This in turn allows you to make strategic decisions about the communications you share. Also, remember that everyone is different. Good employee apps will allow you to personalize the content you share for different teams, team member and departments, according to what resonates with them.

What makes a good employee app? 

There are a lot of employee apps out there, and the choice you make will likely depend on the size of your company, the industry you’re working in, and multiple other factors.

But, you do need to make sure you choose an employee mobile app that:

  • is easy to use
  • meets your specific company needs
  • your employees will actually want to use

Below are some important features to look for in a good employee app.

A mobile-friendly platform 

Mobile phones now account for over half of all global web traffic, and 97% of Americans now own a mobile device. These days, a platform that only works on a desktop computer just isn’t enough – especially with more and more companies transitioning to remote or hybrid work. A mobile solution is important.

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Having an employee mobile app that’s available on a mobile device is also a huge benefit to the 80% of the global workforce classified as non desk workers, or frontline employees, who have suffered for years from not having the same easy access to company information as their office-based colleagues.

Pulse surveys and polls 

Ever wonder what your employees really think? Employee apps that include survey and poll functionality can help you to find out by giving you an insight into how you’re team are feeling.

Pulse surveys and polls are a great way to gather opinions on new policies, get a feeling for employee morale, and make sure you’re aware of any problems your team is encountering. To ensure everyone feels comfortable answering honestly and openly, it’s a good idea to set up surveys so staff can respond anonymously.

Collaboration and knowledge sharing tools 

One of the great advantages of using employee apps is that they allow teams to collaborate on projects, even when they’re not working in the same place. They also greatly enhance the employee experience.

Many apps come with knowledge-sharing tools that allow you to pool the documents, files, and corporate resources your team needs in one place. Others may have group functions, where teams who are collaborating on projects can share progress, ask questions, and work together effectively.

Push notifications 

Sometimes you need to get a message out to your employees – and know they’ve received it – and a push notification is great for this. This could be to let your employees know about important business updates or even share urgent company information such as office closures or severe weather warnings. This can also be used effectively to communicate with frontline employees/workers.

Many employee apps come with push notifications, which allow you to send notifications directly to your employees’ phones.

Fully-branded environment 

No two companies are the same, and the employee app you use should reflect the values, mission, and branding of your organization. It’s also important that your employee app is consistent with the internal comms you’re already doing, so it feels familiar to your employees. Look for apps that are customizable and can incorporate your branding, including logos, color, and typefaces, so your employees will feel at home straight away and enjoy a strong employee experience.

People directory 

Employees in large organizations often have trouble figuring out the right person to contact – a problem that has become even more apparent now that so many of us have barely met our colleagues face-to-face.

Many employee apps include an integrated people directory, providing profile information on each employee. This can help employees understand who is responsible for what – and even get to know each other. It’s important that the directory is user-friendly so employees can easily find the person they need.

A familiar interface

We all have a lot on our minds these days – and the number of different tools, technologies, and platforms we have to navigate seems to increase each year.

Trying to introduce an employee app with a confusing interface and a steep learning curve will likely fail – not least because your team probably just won’t use it. Instead, look for tools that feel familiar, and that have been built with ease of use and simplicity in mind.

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Types of employee app (with examples) 

There are many different types of employee apps on the market, which all have different functionalities. It’s important to choose the right platform for your company based on what you hope to get out of it.

Below are a few examples of the types of apps available.

Employee communication apps 

These apps help employees to communicate with each other remotely, and there’s a good chance your company is already using at least one of them. They may include chat functions, collaboration and project management tools, and video conferencing.

Examples: Slack, Zoom, Skype, MS Teams, Google Meet, Trello, Jira

Employee development apps 

Most organizations that know what they’re doing have some kind of employee development program in place – and employee apps can help. There are many different apps that allow employees to take short courses and learn new skills (and brush up on old ones too). They can also be very useful for employee onboarding, as they can help new hires to quickly get up to speed.

Examples: LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, Moodle, BetterUp, Skill Pill

Employee engagement apps 

An employee engagement app helps employees to feel more satisfied with their work. There are many different apps available, and their functions might include pulse surveys and polls to help human resources and management understand their employees, especially frontline workers. Choose an employee engagement app that best suits your needs.

Examples: Culture Amp, Tiny Pulse, EngageWith

Employee evaluation apps 

Tracking employee performance and progress is an important part of any business, allowing leaders to conduct performance reviews, identify problems and help their team to succeed. Employee evaluation apps can help by providing tools for employees to self-evaluate, as well as allowing managers and other employees to give praise and recognition when a job is done well.

Examples: Lattice, PerformYard Talent, TrakStar, SageHR

Employee portal apps

Employee portal apps are designed to give a company’s entire workforce (including frontline employees) on-demand and instant access to all the practical company information they need, from payroll to vacation calendars to the structure of the organization. Employees benefit from having everything in one easy-to-access location.

Examples: Zenefits, Smartsheet, Jostle, Boardable

Workvivo: the all-of-the-above employee app 

Workvivo combines all of the benefits above in one central hub, streamlining internal employee communication and allowing employees at all levels to build deeper connections with less noise – all on a user-friendly interface that your team will actually use. There’s a reason we are the leading employee app.

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We strongly believe that the time for clunky, poorly-used and barely navigable intranet of old has passed – and it’s time for something new. We aim to be your company intranet, internal comms tool, and employee app, combined into one friendly and familiar social employee experience on your mobile device and desktop. We are not just another intranet.

We also offer integrations with many of the tools you’re probably already using, including Slack, MS Teams, Zoom, Salesforce, and more, so we can integrate seamlessly into your existing stack.

Our mission is to help employees thrive and leaders ensure their entire workforce is happy, engaged, and productive – without the need to chase up emails or the distraction of a constantly pinging Slack channel. We want to help you develop the company culture you’ve always dreamed of.

Interested? Schedule a personalised Workvivo demo to learn more.