15 ways apps can improve employee engagement


6 minute read
Jo Reid

Jo Reid

Chief Executive Officer

Digital Insights

A white desk with various objects collected around the edges of the photo: smart phones, coffee mugs, tablets, pens, notepads and printed papers

Engaged workforces outperform their lower-engagement competitors by more than 200%—streaking ahead in terms of profitability, productivity, customer satisfaction, employee attendance and workplace safety.

It’s no wonder, then 2/5 of businesses say employee engagement is their number one challenge. Employees are 87% less likely to leave their role if highly engaged, and are, on average, 21% more valuable to their organisation.

But while building employee engagement is important, it isn’t easy. Engagement programmes must balance organisational needs with employee expectations. Tactics that engage one employee may not work for another. Programmes must be flexible and cost-effective, and enable clear communication across organisations.

This is why so many businesses are turning to apps as part of their employee engagement programmes: adaptable, cost-effective and forward-thinking answers to the question of corporate culture.

Here’s are 15 ways an app can boost employee engagement in your organisation, and the key things you need to know about commissioning one for your team.

  1. Create community: Your app can offer live updates on upcoming social events, as well as staff and company news—ensuring all employees are in the loop.
  2. Make your vision ‘real’: Your company vision and values should be more than a placard in your lobby. An app can keep your corporate cultural identity front and centre for employees, while improving communication and inclusivity.
  3. Keep teams updated: Rather than issuing a weighty employee handbook which staff are unlikely to read, information on accessibility, parking, lifts and other issues (like snow day notifications for instance) can be stored in your app—ready whenever, wherever employees need it.
  4. Stay safe: In 2017, UK workers injured themselves more than 500,000 times at work. Workplace apps can provide staff with go-to information in case of fire, medical and other emergencies, not to mention a platform to report potential hazards and issues.
  5. Advertise vacancies: Businesses can save time, money and risk by hiring internally. Your app can ensure staff are the first to know about new vacancies. They could even apply via the platform.
  6. Promote progression: Vacancies are interesting, but one key way to keep employees interested is in shining a light on personal development. By using an app to tell success stories of people in-house that have been on courses or successfully worked their way up through the business (and how the company supported them) can inspire others to stay, work hard and excel within the business.
  7. Connect with younger employees: 78% of Millennials say access to technology boosts their productivity. Crucially, this technology must offer a rewarding user experience—something apps do best.
  8. Educate: Flexible, convenient and easily updated, an app is the perfect tool for staff training and can offer quick access to relevant how-to guides, as we’ve written about here. Our app for Cabling Science enables the company to deliver their interactive training content to engineers in the field, in 17 languages, both online and offline. Users can also earn professional accreditation using the app.
  9. Offer employee profiles: It can be helpful to learn about colleagues before meeting them—some businesses, like Ray Dalio’s Bridgewater, make this mandatory. Apps can be used to host an easy-access employee directory for your own teams.
  10. Connect with remote teams: Staff that work from home are up to 77% more productive, and 53% less likely to leave their role. Yet remote working carries risksincluding employee isolation and diluted company culturesomething apps can help solve via improved communication and access to live company information.
  11. Canvas opinion: Disempowered employees are unhappy employees. Apps provide an ideal forum for broadcasting company updates and seeking employee feedback in confidence.
  12. Clarify complexity: Knowledge is power, but working for large organisations can often feel overwhelming – and not having a clear understanding of the importance of their role can demotivate employees. Information on your company structure, plans and performance can all be hosted on your app.
  13. Manage stress: Your app can host information to help staff cope with workplace pressureas well as offering a confidential point-of-contact for accessing mental health support.
  14. Boost Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts: Employees that perceive their organisation to play a positive role in society are more likely to identify with their organisation. Use your apps to keep staff in the loop with your charitable and social work via regular updates, sponsorship opportunities and success stories.
  15. Go beyond engagement: Apps don’t only make teams better connected. They can also make their lives easier, providing tools for use in the workplace. Our app for enModus helps the company’s lighting engineers save time by simplifying the fiddly process of ‘commissioning’ electrical systems. We’ve written more about workplace tools like these here.

Getting started

Every organisation is different—which means that your employee app should be shaped by the needs of your staff, specifically. What’s the best way of doing this? By asking them, of course. One of our key considerations when designing all apps is to collaborate and communicate with the end-users at every stage.

The best way to create an employee app is to ask employees what they want

Only by understanding the needs of the workforce can you hope to present them with something that’s truly useful and useable. We’re talking about staff engagement, what better way to engage them than helping with the development of the app itself, from planning to designing to testing?

Any app should be designed with the end user in mind, and every company will work in a different way. This said, there are a number of key considerations all organisations should cover before commissioning theirs:

  • Your goals. An effective app is a considerable investment, and will necessitate ongoing costs. To achieve ROIor more accurately, a ROO (Return On Objectives)—you need to know what your employee engagement app is for, and how you’ll measure success. Your goal may be to increase staff retention, boost applications, encourage conversation or otherwise. Whatever the goal is, it should form the backbone of your app design.
  • Ongoing management. To be useful, your app must be kept functional and loaded with current, accurate information – or face the same slow death as so many employee intranet systems. You’ll therefore need a clear plan for keeping your software up-to-date. It’s worth noting that, because an app can digitise employee handbooks and other documents and processes, managing yours may save your organisation money and effort in the long-run.
  • Security and confidentiality. The beauty of a workplace app is that it’s hosted on employees’ own devices, so that they can access it any time, anywhere. This will have ramifications for your organisational policies around the confidentiality and security of information – made doubly pressing following GDPR.

We’ve covered these issues and more in our detailed guide to mobile technology for businesses considering an app, here.

Your staff deserve more than an outdated, hard-to-use intranet system. Effective workplace apps offer a simple, seamless user experience for employees at the office and in the field – keeping them connected to boost their engagement. How much could you save and gain with an app for your employees?


Found this article useful? Read our kick-off guide to mobile technologies for business, here.

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