English - United States
Most any communicator will tell you it has always been difficult to communicate effectively with front-line employees. Most are deskless and they are in multiple locations with fluctuating schedules. These employees are one of the primary interaction points with customers, yet the metrics against which they are measured historically have not reflected being informed and engaged members of the team.
The early effects of the pandemic in North America changed requirements for workplaces, schedules, and openings -- almost daily. Front-line employees were thrust into explaining and enforcing organization safety rules for their workplaces. Meanwhile, corporate communications experts were overwhelmed with work as companies pivoted quickly. That left them with even less bandwidth to make sure lines of communication with important front-line workers were open.
While the changes of 2020 are disruptive, they are also a sign that the pace of change we live with has accelerated and will not slow. That means organizations must be able to change the competition – and they cannot do that without effective communications inside their organizations.
Technology tools do not build an internal communications strategy. But a solid strategy often needs technology to be carried out. When considering how to reach all employees most effectively – an employee communications app is one of the best investments in technology you can make.
One of the main reasons for this is the near-ubiquitous use of smartphones.
Think of your own use of your smartphone for a moment – how often are you checking for email, news, and social media updates during the day? It has become an ingrained habit to check continuously.
Making an employee app available to employees allows organizations to tap into the information superhighway each of those employees is carrying all day, every day. Of course, that involves more than simply turning on an app. The key is delivering the right information at the right time to the right people and allowing for feedback and information flow from all of them.
Erwin van der Vlist is co-founder and CEO of Speakap. Together with Patrick van der Mijl, they developed the idea while working in retail 10 years ago and experienced first-hand how difficult it was to communicate with colleagues. That team used a lot of paper, text messages, and trading phone calls, while they were also serving customers. Patrick and Erwin knew it could be easier and launched a tool that today is used by big employers ranging from IKEA to McDonald’s to Nike.
The app provides a secured and controlled environment, branded by the employer using it, that allows feeding information out (including documents, videos, images, success stories, product information, leadership updates, and more), and allowing for feedback from employees. Importantly, employers can target groups of employees by geography, teams, organizations, and more, so that employees receive a highly customized and topical feed of information.
That sort of highly targeted and interactive communications channel has benefits for any organization at any time. During times of great change, it becomes even more valuable. At the beginning of the pandemic, Speakap’s customers saw use and engagement grow by nearly 350%. The ability of those employers to quickly share policies, updates, and safety information with employees when the external landscape was shifting constantly and quickly was critical.
Several of Speakap’s features and customer offers help it stand out from other apps. Each customer has a custom branded app to give to employees. The app integrates easily with HR applications (e.g. Workday) so that the organizational hierarchy (such as employees changing departments or offices) and population (employees joining or leaving the company) is always up to date. The app also can integrate with third-party applications such as work schedules, eLearning applications, surveys, and more.
Speakap also includes customer success onboarding and training support as part of the subscription price – there are no one-time costs involved.
Erwin advises companies considering apps to weigh three things, “What are your goals and objectives for engaging with front-line workers? Consider how vital it is to inform employees quickly nowadays. And the fast-changing digital experiences we have in our personal lives should inform how companies make those experiences available at work.”
In short, it is essential – now more than ever – to effectively communicate with your employees in all parts of the company. How we live today dictates that using technology is a critical component of your strategy. The best payoff for investing in technology – an interactive, highly customizable, branded employee communications app.
Bryant is a communications leader and founder of Great Communicate. He helps organizations use strategic employee communications to achieve business objectives and build engagement, especially during transition and growth.
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