Internal communication is more important than ever. Companies need to communicate strategically and frequently with employees, sharing messages that are relevant and accessible. Businesses that don’t communicate in ways that resonate with their workforce find themselves paying the price in high turnover.
In the past, internal communications strategies that focused on efforts such as low-readership employee magazines or in-house intranet content often earned a reputation for draining resources without having much impact. But investing in an internal communications strategy that leverages mobile app technology can play an integral role in reaching employees, connecting strategy with operations and helping companies thrive, according to new research by Staffbase.
Employee apps are being adopted as a mobile solution for reaching employees via their personal smartphones/tablets—often with push notifications. An app can be an effective and secure channel for connecting dispersed workers who lack corporate email addresses or regular access to desktop computers, such as non-desk and/or remote workers, as well as freelancers, non-contract employees, temps, etc. As more and more people work this way, an employee app can provide them with easy access to corporate information and workplace tools, targeted for practicality and relevance, and promoting alignment and engagement.
Businesses Are at an Internal Communication Crossroads
Communication professionals try to utilize every available resource to reach their audience during times of change, to be a powerful voice in their lives, and to foster connections—but too often they aren’t getting through. Reach and relevance have become the greatest weaknesses of internal communications. However, new mobile communication technology can help companies reach employees directly when it matters most, targeting them with timely and vital information.
Surveys show that companies that optimize internal communication improve efficiency, compliance, and customer satisfaction, and have reduced risk and turnover. Research by Staffbase shows that a mobile employee app dramatically improves internal communication, and it identified four areas where companies can see concrete ROI.
Enabling Middle Management Communication Improves Work
Middle managers and operational leaders often hold the information that influences day-to-day business operations and guides employees in their jobs. An app allows communication professionals to identify influencers in that group and empowers them to distribute job-critical information.
Staffbase research found that effective delivery of safety information can lower the incidence of work accidents and reduce costs of occupational injuries and illnesses by 31 percent. The research also found that when apps are used by operational leaders to provide training and guidance for frontline workers, customer satisfaction (measured by Net Promoter Score) can rise at least 10 percent. For every 10 percent increase in customer satisfaction, companies increase revenue by 7%.
In 2017, German transport company Reinert Logistics implemented an employee app with their workforce, of which 83% of employees are non-desk workers. The company enabled operational managers to share safety videos and provide easy access to tools that helped with daily tasks, thus reducing incidents resulting in damages to company assets by 15%.
Reduce Wasted Time and Boost Revenue Per Employee
Studies by IDC, the Working Council of CIOs and Reuters show that employees spend on average 20% of their hours searching for information necessary to do their jobs effectively. While knowledge and non-desk workers differ in the kinds of information they need and at what frequency, the relevance of this issue for non-desk workers cannot be underestimated. A company using an employee app can modestly expect to reduce time wasted on these activities by 15%, increasing revenue per employee by 5%.
Troy Griggsby, Communications and Brand Manager at US Auto Logistics (80% non-desk workers) helped launch their employee app in 2017. Several months after implementation he reported, “The employee directory alone is pure gold. We’ve learned that some of the things that seem like small inconveniences of outdated communication are really decisive in how well employees can do their jobs. The employee app addresses a lot of inefficiencies that hinder the day-to-day activities that keep our business running smoothly.”
When Employee Engagement Rises, Turnover Plummets
Gallup’s most recent State of the American Workplace survey revealed that only 33% of US employees said that they were committed to their work. The same research found that the turnover rate for disengaged employees is 10 percent higher than engaged employees. Mobile employee apps reach all employees through a medium that is central to their everyday communication habits, and integrate features designed to keep employees engaged. Turnover risk drops significantly for engaged employees, a Gallup poll shows that engaged employees are 27% more likely to report excellent performance.
The research by Staffbase found that by capitalizing on the reach of mobile devices and creating relevant experiences and opportunities for reciprocity, mobile employee apps dramatically boost employee engagement. Companies utilizing an employee app were found to drive engagement levels to above 75%, which can save them anywhere from 25 to 65% on turnover costs.
Addressing Change-Related Stress Increases Performance
Technology has given everyone a voice, but companies are struggling to make themselves heard and understood. This is especially problematic when successful change depends on the cooperation of the workforce. Gartner reports that employees experiencing change-related stress perform 5% worse than average. Staffbase research found that through better reach and feedback opportunities, an employee app could reduce change-related stress by at least 2%, lowering related revenue loss by 41.2%.
Mergers and acquisitions involve complex organizational change, with fail rates from 50 to 75% according to research at Northwestern School of Education and Social Policy. Global refractory leader RHI Magnesita, with 14,000 employees (60% non-desk), went live with an employee app on day one of their 2017 merger. The app played a crucial role in maintaining performance during this period. The company finished 2017 with 11% revenue growth and their app was recognized with several awards for outstanding corporate and workplace communication.
Decision Makers Are Providing Proof
Transforming internal communication to meet the demands of the changing business landscape and those of modern employees is complex. Research on internal communication continues to offer new insights, but powerful evidence of the necessity of a communication transformation also exists in the growing number of companies investing in 21st-century strategies. Their success stories were the catalysts for the full report on the value of an investment in mobile internal communication.