In good times and bad, large business needs to focus on two strategies for sustainable success; resilience and productivity. Natural and political catastrophes aside, your employees are both your best form of defence and greatest risk, as the day-to-day force that guides your strategic, compliance, financial, operational, and brand value position. An organisation that genuinely and demonstratively values its employees will naturally instil trust, evoke loyalty, and build productivity.
Employee apps are just one way to demonstrate your belief in the value of your workforce. Yet, more than that, they can also serve the business to meet compliance requirements, support timely management of risk, and support employees to deliver the best possible end-customer experience.
We’ve compiled some potential beneficial outcomes to help you build a business case for the development of an enterprise employee app.
Why build your own app?
Would you like to introduce a better way of supporting employee morale through surveys and regular ‘check-ins’? There’s an app for that. Would your organisation benefit from providing real-time access to shift details and updates? There are apps for that too. Do your employees want to be able to access all of your organisation’s systems and tools from one place? You guessed it; there’s an app for that as well. But do any of these apps deliver these needs, without the bloat of features that you don’t need?
Provide functionality specific to business and user needs
We’ve established that there are apps out there for just about any program or process your organisation might want to introduce to boost productivity and ensure resilience. Pricing models and feature sets for business applications vary greatly. However, in most cases, you won’t get to pick and choose the features and functionality you’d like, nor do you get to control what new functionality is made available.
In developing your enterprise employee app, you have full control over the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and roadmap, with the flexibility to shift and change a backlog of features as needs and priorities change. We have seen bespoke application functionality replace an entire third-party Software as a Service (SaaS) platform, trading licensing costs of fixed functionality for one upfront investment to deliver tailored functionality that becomes a proprietary asset.
Improve support for remote and frontline workers
Operating models in large business continue to evolve, influenced by emerging technology, increasing competition, and global emergencies like the current virus pandemic. Remote working is no longer a trend – it’s here to stay, and organisations that are on board with this are well-positioned to be more resistant to drastic and sudden change.
In a 2019 survey by Buffer of 2,471 professionals around the world, 40% of respondents agreed that a flexible schedule was the most significant benefit of being supported to work remotely – equally beneficial to employers as a means of promoting work-life balance. An employee app provides a connection to essential tools and communications for remote and frontline workers, even when they’re not ‘on duty’.
The perceived negative impact of remote working on communication can be addressed by an employee app that replaces traditional office-based mediums like posters and noticeboards with targeted communications in the form of push notifications, short format alerts and in-app news.
Part-time remote employees can utilise an employee app for desk and meeting room bookings for the times when they are in the office. Frontline workers are in a unique position to capture and communicate first-hand insights that business leaders need to understand to build strategies for success. These are just a few examples of effective two-way communication supported by an employee mobile app – better communication, not more communication.
Promote rewards and incentives for all employees (including your remote workforce)
Establishing a program of rewards and benefits for employees has been proven to contribute to higher employee engagement. An engaged workforce feels involved, committed, passionate and empowered, and demonstrates this through behaviour that ultimately benefits the organisation through positive customer experience, and higher productivity and retention. If your employees aren’t aware of the incentives available to them, the cost of maintaining a rewards program still exists. The potential return to the organisation of increasing participation in a rewards program makes it well worthwhile promoting and making it accessible to all. Reaching your employees where they are is especially important if all or part of your workforce is remote or field-based – these are often the people who have the most impact on the end-customer experience.
Provide a single point of access to multiple tools and platforms
A common request that we hear from busy employees is the need for a single point of access – a “one-stop-shop” – for all tools related to their employment and the tasks of their role. You can achieve this with technology such as through single sign-on apps or intranet quick-links, but these are often accessible only to desk-bound employees. A mobile employee app can bring together multiple platforms through data connections and integrations, to centralise access to tailored and relevant information.
Building trust in leadership
Trust and confidence in the workplace start with your leaders. A study of trust in leadership by Zenger/Folkman highlighted the importance of positive relationships, including behaviours such as staying in touch on the issues and concerns of others, generating cooperation, and resolving conflict. To build commitment to the company, employees must trust their leaders. An employee app can provide a forum for two-way discussion of change and provide functionality that makes it easier for them to do their best work. Apps like this will support what employees value most; security, work-life balance, fair treatment, and job satisfaction. But be aware, releasing an enterprise app for your employees must be more than a gesture – the scope of functionality it delivers should go beyond PR ‘fluff’.
Supporting business compliance requirements
All large business is guided by and answerable to regulations, laws, and standards designed to protect employees and customers. Most organisations have one or more tools and systems in place to address risk and compliance. Making these systems accessible to your employees at any time, in any location, can build a culture of accountability and empowerment to highlight risks and introduce positive change. Some examples include functionality to report hazards and safety concerns, access to a whistleblower platform, access to HR-related information and payslips, and ready access to policies.
Take advantage of device familiarity
Every smartphone is also a camera – imagine if your frontline staff were empowered to report hazards and risks with supporting photographic evidence, or record the condition of an item at handover or inspection. Most smartphones have access to geolocation data – data that can be used to pre-populate forms or apply metadata to user activities.
Mobile device operating systems follow a design system that provides users with a pattern of expected behaviour and a consistent visual experience. When creating an employee app, app developers can leverage these frameworks to build faster and deliver an app experience that is familiar to your employees (whether on their device or a business fleet device).
Case Study: Yarra Trams
Melbourne has more than 1,750 tram stops and carries more than 200 million passengers every year across its 450-strong fleet of trams. This tram network (as Yarra Trams) is operated by Keolis Downer. We are proud to work with Keolis Downer to deliver a native mobile application for their large workforce of tram drivers, officers and corporate staff.
The Yarra Trams employee app, released on iOS and Android in March 2019, has provided an on-demand connection to vital information and tools for Yarra Tram’s 2200+ employees (including ~1300 tram drivers). The app supports push notifications and integrates with HASTUS to provide personal work rosters for frontline staff.
The app was developed in .NET using Xamarin to release to both iOS and Android platforms. A React-based Mobile Page Framework integrated into the native app delivers SharePoint based content. This has meant that more complex native functionality can be combined with SharePoint-based content, presented seamlessly within the app.
App features include:
- Integrated personal rosters, providing frontline employees with a weekly and monthly view of 6 weeks advance roster details including shift start and end times, shift location, shift duration, duty type, and mealtimes.
- Audience targeting driven from user’s AD / SharePoint profile allows Yarra Trams Public Affairs team to publish news articles and alerts (short format in-app notices) content specific to audience groups, e.g. based on location and role.
- Targeted push notifications support means that important communications reach the right people at the right time.
- Secure access through encrypted login credentials, PIN input for fast access, session timeouts and recovery workflows
- Access to whistleblowing platform, employee assistance program and suggestion/feedback/incident reporting, company policies, and news, all within the mobile app experience.
- A SharePoint based admin dashboard provides for content managers for access to a simplified central interface for managing content presented in the app.