How can tech super-charge employee engagement and productivity?

Meaningfully engaging employees and driving productivity (when so many are working remotely or are deskless) are two of the greatest work-related challenges of our time.

Gallup – State of the Australian and New Zealand Workplace 2023 report states that low employee engagement costs the Australian economy AU$211 billion, and the New Zealand economy NZ$36.5 billion annually.

Today more than ever, leaders are looking for a competitive advantage to recruit, retain, and engage employees:

  • Employee turnover is an organisation’s number one cost.
  • Employee health and wellbeing is an organisation’s number one strategic priority.

When employees are effectively informed and engaged in two-way conversations each day, they contribute to their full ability, generating real business results.

Productivity is another significant challenge that businesses face today. With inflation rising and the cost of doing business escalating, the only way to drive profit is to be more efficient. Few organisations have cracked this yet, but we know that tech will be the key to unlocking productivity.

Researchers from the Economist Impact puts the annual cost of lost productivity for Australian businesses at $27,585 per employee, or the equivalent of 29% of average baseline pay. “The loss of focus, or unproductive periods, leads to missed opportunities, for producing valuable work,” the researchers said.

If organisations can find ways to remove the time your employees spend on non-value add activities, and instead enable them to focus their time on more meaningful, customer-centric activities, then profits will accelerate.

The new and emerging tech to transform employee engagement & productivity

The digital employee experience evolved so quickly during the pandemic, with organisations utilising solutions that were the most accessible (based on cost, delivery time, and functionality), to help employees feel connected to the organisation and each other.

Since then, the market for Employee Communication Apps has evolved rapidly with new entrants, mergers, and expanding product capabilities. Companies such as Aldi, Adidas, Nike, Bupa, Bunnings, Kmart Group, Officeworks, Country Road, NAB and TWE have all procured an Employee Communication App as part of their tech stack.

The Employee Communication App market consists of vendors offering intranet solutions, frontline employee applications, workforce experience applications, social & community applications and comprehensive omni-channel solutions that enables Corporate Communication leaders to plan, create, coordinate, and distribute internal communications across the workforce or target specific audiences.

Although Communication leaders are a key user, we find that Marketing, HR, and Operations leaders also advocate for Employee Communication Apps to reach frontline workers faster and easier, building engagement, driving the desired culture, and unlocking productivity. Their specific needs include:

  • Operational communication (specific business unit activity, shift management, process and procedure updates, safety updates, merchandising rollouts, cleaning procedures, and sharing best practice/tips, etc.)
  • Organisational communication (building culture, EVP, reward and recognition, brands etc.)
  • Training (relating to onboarding, customer service, professional development, certifications, etc.)
  • Personal benefits (viewing benefits, payslips, requesting leave, etc.)

The most in-demand Apps are ones that are consumer-grade, offer extensibility through integrations, are scalable to meet all organisational needs, provide the right governance access, deliver multi-source analytics, and enable meaningful connections to foster a happier, more productive workplace.

Benefits of best-in-class Employee Communication Apps

  • Currently, the Digital Employee Experience is complex, and employees need to access multiple systems and tools like email, payroll, rosters, HR platforms, planning tools, collaboration tools, communication tools and wellbeing tools. Adding to the digital ecosystem can lead to a cluttered, frustrating, and inefficient tech environment. An Employee Communication App acts as the `front-door’ to all employee’s systems and tools, removing the need for multiple logins, and bringing all tools together in a single integrated multi-channel experience. In my experience, implementing an Employee Communication App enables organisations to reduce digital channels by over 50%.
  • Employees expectations are high when it comes to digital tools and if technology is not consumer-grade, they won’t use it. It needs to be intuitive to use, as visual and engaging as social media apps, with one-click and drag-and-drop functionality. The best-in-class Employee Communication Apps allow employees to subscribe to channels that matter to them, enabling a `consumer experience’ that they expect in 2023.
  • An Employee Communication App enables greater connection and engagement with frontline employees by becoming the `company-in-your-pocket for non-desk employees.’ Organisations with Employee Communication Apps can realise engagement scores of up to 92% for frontline employees.
  • Gallup – State of the Australian and New Zealand Workplace 2023 report states that over half of Australian and New Zealand employees are remote or hybrid workers. As a result of hybrid work, employees require an increased flow of information, with greater specificity to their role and location than ever before. There is no single communications channel that will connect you to all employees and there is not one channel everyone will want to use. Everyone has different preferences for how they receive information. By implementing an Employee Communication App, Internal Communication leaders can save time by having one backend where you can plan and target your communications across multiple channels such as mobile, intranet, desktop, social and digital signage in a connected and cohesive omnichannel approach.
  • Employee Communication Apps include analytics that provide organisations with a unified approach to measuring, understanding, and improving employee engagement. Internal Communication leaders can measure interactions and effectiveness of communications across content, channels, devices, campaigns, and feedback loops to assess business and employee value. The access to data enables Internal Communication leaders to have strategic discussions with business leaders on the effectiveness of communications and the value to both the business and employees.
  • Employee Communication Apps bridge the gap between remote and office workers, building camaraderie with peers, and connection with senior leaders via 2-way conversations. Employees tell us that “finally, they can provide feedback to leaders and feel that their voice is being heard”, driving connection, fostering innovation, and driving business outcomes.
  • Operational communication takes priority in many organisations, which doesn’t leave much airtime for company-wide content relating to strategy, values, EVP, or recognition. Leaders can use the App to recognise great work or actions in real-time (as they happen) – driving a culture of reward and recognition. An Employee Communication App helps you to bring your values and culture to life to everyone, everywhere.
  • A small number of Employee Communication Apps support the coordination of live broadcasting creating a total experience framework.
  • Artificial Intelligence is becoming a game changer and will super-charge employee engagement. A small number of Apps are launching an AI-powered virtual assistant that helps Internal Communication leaders to create and revise engaging content for articles and surveys.