This step of the journey is all about reflecting on the culture of your organisation and your other, existing internal communications channels.
Having an employee app is a totally different way of communicating than emails, noticeboards or a staff magazine, so try not to approach your content in the same way.
People are used to spending ‘bite-sized’ amounts of time on their phone, so you need to make sure that you’re getting your point across quickly and succinctly. Whereas longer features can work well in an employee magazine, they tend not to fare so well in an app.
The main difference between an app and your other channels however, is that while someone might pick up your staff magazine in the canteen at lunch time, with an app you’re potentially in that person’s pocket at all times.
You have the ability to send out push notifications and alerts, to ask that person to reach in their pocket and pull out their phone to read your content at any time of the day. That’s a big responsibility to have. And it might be a huge departure from what your employees are used to.
Evolution or Revolution?
- What existing channels do we have for comms?
- Do any of them already allow for two-way communication?
If the answer to the second question is ‘yes’, and you already have a culture of two-way communication and people getting involved, then your app is a way to nurture and develop that.
If not, it’s important to realise that this app represents a radical departure from the norm for your staff. You’re not just leading a change in ‘how you do comms’. You’re leading a cultural change throughout your organisation!
Be aware that your current organisational culture might take time to adapt to an app where staff can get involved, make posts, and comment on the latest news. If it’s new for them, they might be reluctant to get involved. This is why it’s so important to involve stakeholders across the business, and identify people to be champions for your app. Set realistic targets for growth and engagement, depending on how ‘new’ this way of doing things is for your business.
Every business that we work with is at a different stage of the journey. Some will launch their app and have all their staff in there on day one making posts and comments, while others need to work a bit harder to get to that stage.
It’s important to reflect, and recognise where your organisation is on this journey – and to think about the cultural aspects of your business that might hold you back.
What are you afraid of?
An employee app is a great way for you to engage your staff, but the next thing you need to ask yourself:
Are we afraid to really let our employees engage with us?
Answering this question will reveal a lot about your organisational culture. Are you afraid of what your staff might say if they’re allowed to make comments? Are you afraid that they’re going to post inappropriate content? Are you wondering if it’s possible to moderate comments before they’re visible to everyone? If there’s a profanity filter in the app? If someone might post something negative that questions our strategy?
These are valid concerns, and you know your own business better than we do. But our advice is – if these kinds of questions are at the forefront of your mind, and you’re afraid of what staff might say, now that they have the chance to say it – you need to be the one to break the cycle.
You have a chance here to create a real sense of community amongst your employees. Encourage and nurture that, and try to place trust in them.
You have moderation tools at your disposal – you can delete comments, you’ll know who posted each comment, and the community can report objectionable comments to you using the ‘report’ function in the app.
If someone is complaining or being negative in the comments – reply to them and engage with them. Be the leader of cultural change!
Imagine that you’ve spent a few years working for a company that doesn’t hear your voice, and has no vehicle for engagement. Now you get an app and let others know about your frustrations, and someone simply deletes your comment. It’s not a good look.
Now imagine that instead of having your comment deleted, someone actually replied to it – a manager, or someone from the comms team has read what you had to say, and is using the app to respond and explain. You now feel like your voice is being heard, your attitude is likely to improve, and other employees will read it too. They realise that the business really is making a shift towards openness, and they feel more comfortable about engaging.
This is just one small example of the type of cultural shift that you need to lead to make your app a success.
An app for your employees – or any kind of two-way comms channel, will only be as successful as the mindset of your business allows it to be.
Don’t let fear hold you back!