5 Things Every Internal Communications App Needs
Hopefully, you’re reading this because you’ve already realized that there are many reasons you might need an internal communications app to reach your frontline workers. If not, we have at least fifty reasons why you should consider one.
But let’s start with the basics: what is an internal communications app and why do you need one.
What is an internal communication app?
An internal communication app is a mobile application specifically designed to help companies communicate with their employees.
And there are many different types of internal comms app. Many companies with remote or deskbound workers consider employee collaboration apps like Slack that provide great peer-to-peer chat functionality. But companies with deskless or frontline workers often consider an application that focuses less on instant messaging and more on hosting resources, sharing top-down updates, and giving workers access to content when and where they need it.
What are the benefits of an internal communication platform?
Finding the right internal communication platform for your business has many benefits:
- Improves culture and the employee experience. When you are able to improve communication, you build trust and transparency over time. This is hugely important for creating a positive work culture and EX.
- Better manager communication. Internal comms solutions help you get better talking points and documentation to your people managers. This helps support them when they communicate with their direct reports. And since managers account for 70% of the variance in employee engagement, improving their communication skills pays dividends.
- Increases employee retention. When employees have a better experience and feel more engaged at work, they are much less likely to churn.
- Higher efficiency and productivity. Being able to increase employee access to training, documentation, procedures, etc., you improve their operational efficiency and job performance.
What every internal communications app needs?
If you’re ready to compare app providers and figure out what you really need in your communications app, we’ve broken down the five essential things you’ll want in your employee app.
1. Internal Communications App Security
Whenever you consider a new tool or strategy, there are a lot of company stakeholders to bring on board. When you’re considering a one-stop hub of communication and resources for frontline teams who don’t have easy access to your other systems, you’re going to need to make your case to IT and to Human Resources. Their co-sponsorship is going to be beneficial in the long run.
That’s why your internal communications app must be secure. And we mean secure from two different perspectives.
The first is that you choose an app provider that takes the necessary cybersecurity measures like annual vulnerability auditing and SOC II Type 2 compliance. This type of security will make IT happy and is often a prerequisite to getting them to sign off on a tool.
The second type of security will make HR (and you) happy: Does the app let you target messages so only the intended audience sees them? Think of your union versus non-union messages. Keeping these communications separate is really important. The same is true for change management or crisis communication. Sometimes, you need managers to get a message before employees. Or you only want the targeted employees to get certain messages about closures or major changes to avoid creating panic.
This ability to reliably target information to groups is also critical to internal comms teams. According to the Ragan State of Internal Comms Report, 83% of internal communications professionals think it’s important to personalize content to groups of employees, but only 40% can with their existing channels.
2. App Usability
Ease of use for both admins and employees is another essential thing to consider in your internal comms app. You want your employees to actually use whatever tool you select. So, you don’t want to turn people away by choosing something overly complex or difficult to use.
Setting your communications app up for success will require thinking about your adoption strategy, and usability has a big role to play.
There is a technology adoption curve that breaks down the stages of technology adoption. This model states that there are groups of people who adopt technology faster than others. The two categories where you really need to focus on overcoming obstacles to use are your late majority and laggards. You might never get laggards to adopt your technology despite your best efforts, but it will be especially hard to get these groups on board if the product isn’t easy to use and beneficial in their day-to-day.
3. Culture, Employee Engagement, and Employee Experience Functionality
Another thing that we think is absolutely essential in your internal communications app is the ability to customize the in-app experience with your company branding. And there are many reasons for this.
For one, most organizations struggle to connect their frontline teams to the company they work for. Sometimes this is because they don’t really know who they work for (e.g. a casino employee at Harrah’s might not realize they work for Caesars Entertainment). Or it can be simply that they feel loyalty to their team, manager, and location and not the company at large because they never receive direct communication from the top. Whatever the reason is, connecting employees to your company is a huge first step in improving your workplace culture. And a big way to do that is by creating a channel where this information is front and center.
And we know that when you focus on culture and inclusion, employees are more engaged and the experience of working at your company improves. This impacts your bottom line by improving retention, productivity, safety, and more.
4. Forward-Thinking, Multimedia Content Strategy Functionality
The digital revolution for internal comms is here. It’s important that we continue to invest in new tools and tech that are forward-thinking. For example, the rise of video is here to stay. So you want to invest in channels that support video.
Luckily, most apps are already set up to support multimedia content like video, images, and podcasts (yay!). But really think about what you’ll use the tool for or might use it for in the future. For instance, does the provider support Excel or PowerPoint? Will it cover all your content needs so you can start creating comms campaigns that really deliver results?
5. Employee-First UI
And last, but perhaps most important, is thinking of the end-user. Your internal communications app is for them and should be made that way. It should provide the information they need and be organized in a way they can understand. But that’s up to you as a communicator. Whatever tool you use will only be as good as your content and strategy.
But you can choose a tool with an easily searchable document hub. First and foremost, having a document hub means having the ability to store essential resources on your app. This includes everything from onboarding materials, to training videos, policies, and so on. But making sure it is easy to search is key. Your frontline managers are busy and need to find answers to their questions quickly. This is a great way to save time and show your employees you are dedicated to making their lives easier.
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