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More companies are beginning to understand the benefits of mobile when engaging and communication with frontline employees, providing real-time information regardless of time and location through smartphones, rather than emails or other traditional methods. Through examining, programs initiated by early adopters of a mobile strategy, some important pitfalls to avoid, lessons learned, and keys to success have emerged.

1. Keep it simple

One of the reasons mobile trumps desktop-based communication is because mobile makes it easy for employees to receive and understand the information they need. Traditional approaches require that staff log onto employee portals or intranets, keep track of passwords, and search for relevant information once there. In a mobile-first process, employees know exactly where (their phone) and what (role specific) information they’ll receive and can digest it in a matter of seconds.

Employee engagement apps should take less than one minute for employees to download and the on-boarding process must be as simple as possible. Use and interaction should be intuitive, easy, and fun. Ultimately you want people to love their experience with the app.

Insider Tip: Don’t spread your app too thin. Once you’ve brought in a great mobile app and are seeing the returns of increased engagement and productivity, it’s tempting to expand to provide other employee needs (such as timesheets, payroll, or calendar features). Resist the urge – an app is most effective when it is tailored to a particular goal – such as employee engagement or communicating business-critical and time-sensitive information.

2. Clearly communicate value

For today’s busy employee, time is precious. How effectively a firm communicates the value of having and using an app corresponds directly to app downloads and engagement. A few key value propositions for employees include the following:

  • Be informed: Mobile apps make it simple for employees to be informed on key information relevant to their role and job, removing the burden of endless emails and meetings
  • Be heard: Mobile apps, unlike, say, information posters, allow for instantaneous feedback from individual employees on their opinions and preferences
  • Be engaged: When used as a part of CSR, health, and wellness, or community investment initiatives, mobile apps keep employees up-to-date on corporate goals, progress, and most importantly, opportunities to get involved
  • Be recognized: Through gamified information delivery, mobile apps make it easy for direct managers to identify and recognize employees who accumulate points by reading, understanding, and acting on the messages received, removing a pain point common to most organizations

And remember, value means something different to each person in an organization. A message that targets a senior manager is different from one that targets an on-the-road salesperson. The app provider should work with the organization to understand the unique value proposition for each audience. The best apps are able to segment organizations by geography, department, or role and deliver messaging tailored to each group’s specific function or needs.

3. Eliminate IT headaches

While nearly 100% of employees have a mobile device within reach, the type of device varies from iPhones to Androids to Blackberrys. Finding an app that has been proven to work across all major manufacturers and operating systems is absolutely vital to ensuring all employees are able to engage with the content you plan to deliver in your mobile approach. One of the first steps an organization should take when planning to launch an enterprise app is to understand the mobile landscape of their organization. What types of devices do they bring to work? Does the organization supply devices to all or some staff?

Launching a mobile software solution should require very little effort from an IT department. A mobile app should provide a plug-and-play solution and should work either completely outside the organization’s IT network, or require minimal integration to meet the organization’s needs.

When successfully applied, the mobile solution should save everyone managers, C-suite, employees, and IT—time and energy, while delivering superior results compared to conventional employee engagement communication strategies.