Mobile App Development

Workplace-WhatsApp Integration Underscores the Importance of Employee Apps in Improving Employee Experience

Workplace-WhatsApp Integration Underscores the Importance of Employee Apps in Improving Employee Experience

The Covid-19 pandemic exposed some major flaws that plague most businesses today. One of these is the business-employee communication gap. Since the pandemic, employee engagement has surfaced as a central challenge, especially in times like these when attrition rates are sky-high. Businesses worldwide are hard at work trying to mitigate the issue, with some addressing it on an operational level while others are tackling it with technology.   

One such tech-based attempt to help businesses engage their employees better was recently put forward by Workplace. 

The News: Few months back, Workplace by Meta—A communication and collaboration tool designed for businesses—announced its upcoming integration with Whatsapp. The reasoning here was that such an integration would help businesses communicate with, and thus empower, their employees better—especially those working on the frontlines. 

And it isn’t just Workplace; software and app developers around the world have been working on solutions that can address this persistent issue of communication (or lack thereof) between businesses and employees. And yet, employee engagement remains to be a significant roadblock yet to be overcome. 

So let’s dive deeper into Workplace’s attempt at boosting employee engagement and uncover how businesses can harness the power of technology to do a better job at keeping in touch with their employees.

Workplace - Whatsapp integration, endeavors to bring frontline employees closer to their organizations.

On a technical level, it makes sense that Workplace supports WhatsApp since Meta owns both, and any company that offers different products and services would want them closely integrated for an overall better user experience. 

However, that’s not all. In their pre-announcement to integrate WhatsApp, Workplace emphasized how the pandemic highlighted and exaggerated the communication gap between frontline workers and businesses. Workplace’s head of product, Ujjval Singh, stated

“...most successful organizations empower their frontline employees to make a difference and listen to their ideas. So it’s disappointing to see there’s still a clear disconnect between frontline and HQ in 2021.”

workplace director quote

Beyond that, Workplace’s 2021 Deskless not voiceless report surveyed 7000 frontline workers and 1350 C-suit workers reporting that only around 55% of frontline workers feel connected to their company HQ while 75% do not trust their organizations to be transparent with news and updates. These figures clearly indicate a lack of communication, and thus trust, between frontline employees and their companies.

The report further emphasizes how vital employee experience is to most organizations, pinpointing four central pillars to employee experience, namely

  • Fulfillment and empowerment
  • Trust in leadership
  • Learning and growth
  • Wellbeing and safety

pillars of employee engagement

To summarize Workplace’s position: They believe employee experience plays a critical role, especially in today’s economy where attrition rates are significantly higher than averages, and The Great Resignation continues to loom over us. Beyond that, focusing on improving employee-business communications seems to be one of the best ways of addressing poor employee experience. In that sense, Workplace’s decision to integrate WhatsApp—something workers are more likely to be using over other work-related communication tools—makes a lot more sense. Meta’s attempt at better connecting employees with organizations is, at its core, an attempt at improving employee experience.

The Takeaway: Employee experience is Key for Businesses Moving Forward 

Employee experience has lately been the talk of town post-pandemic. With a significant chunk of the workforce considering a job switch, businesses are struggling to keep existing employees engaged and happy. 

A 2021 Gallup report found that the 2020 employee engagement turbulence (mostly due to the pandemic) was finally settling down but had significantly shifted workplace realities to where employee engagement would play a key role moving forward. According to the report, only 36% of US employees and 20% of global employees were engaged at work. The report concluded that having clear objectives, better growth opportunities, and increased appreciation helped maximize employee engagement, which boosted productivity and results.

only 20 percent employees engaged

A recent Goodfirms report found similar results stating employee experience will stand as the highest priority moving forward. From onboarding to retention, every step of the journey makes your workforce feel a certain way which directly impacts their performance and productivity. Prioritizing employee experience thus, isn’t just an option but instead a necessity for most organizations. And it isn’t that most organizations do not recognize this; as per the Wills Tower Watson 2021 employee experience survey, 92% of employers state that enhancing employee experience over the coming years will be a priority. That’s a significant jump from the per-pandemic figure of 52% stating the same. 

But despite the industry-wide awareness concerning the importance of employee experience, businesses are still struggling to find effective ways of boosting employee engagement. For instance, 83% of managers feel they give all of their employees a voice, while 54% of employees claim they feel voiceless.  This gap in engagement and communication remains to be bridged mainly because the problem is a relatively new one, exaggerated primarily by the pandemic, and businesses yet to find specific solutions for their industries. So let’s take the time to discuss some existing solutions and ways companies can address this issue of employee engagement.

The Solution: Employee Apps Are Our Best Bet at Addressing Poor Employee Engagement

With remote and hybrid work becoming permanent features of our work lives, employees today are further removed from their offices than they ever were. The widened divide between businesses and employees further degrades employee experience, leaving a large proportion of the workforce disengaged and uninterested.

But if employee experience is suffering given a lack of poor communication between businesses and workers, the obvious solution is to introduce ways and tools that help bridge the communication gap. 

One potent solution for the problem are employee apps. An employee application is an app that allows for better productivity and streamlined communication & collaboration between teams and individuals. They allow businesses to inform and engage employees, while also letting employees pass valuable feedback and ideas back to the management.

advantages of implementing employee apps

So how do you introduce and implement an employee app that improves employee engagement?

First and foremost, there are multiple types of employee apps, each focused on different features, catering to different industries and workflows. The most common type of employee apps are communication and workplace style apps. These help employees communicate with their colleagues and managers better and integrate different work systems and environments into a single workplace respectively. Furthermore, there are operations based apps that focus on providing the workforce with the necessary tools needed for their jobs as well as engagement based employee apps that incorporate social-media like features. 

Most employee apps today offer a good mix of each of the above mentioned features. Organizations are free to choose the one that fits their style and needs the best.

How can Businesses Use Employee Apps to Improve Engagement

So far we’ve discussed the problem of employee engagement and how employee apps can be great tools to tackle it. The important thing to note here though, is that employee apps are precisely that, they are mere tools, and simply buying an app subscription for your workforce won’t automatically resolve all your employee engagement issues. 

Fundamentally, all change within a company’s policies, culture, operations and outcomes is only possible if and when individual leaders and staff members are willing to commit to that change. It is the people within your company that can create an engaged workforce, employee apps can only assist you in achieving that goal. That said, let's go through some of the ways companies can implement the use of employee apps for maximum engagement:

Become a company that talks:

As discussed, communication gap is a big issue within companies. To fill this gap in a systematic fashion companies must come up with a clear and steady communication routine that all workers can participate in. Here are a few steps to do so:

  • Design a flexible communication schedule that caters to every employee. This makes your workforce feel included rather than making them feel compelled to communicate. 
  • Gather your employees around a single communication hub, this is where employee apps come in handy since they allow free communication across multiple channels and different levels. 
  • Make sure the communication is two-way. Employee apps aren’t just great for top down communication; they are, in fact, great tools for executing a bottom-up communication approach as well.
  • Give your workforce the means and the tools to communicate and cooperate among themselves, employee apps once again come in handy when trying to do so. 

Employee apps can go a long way when it comes to improving employee communication but ultimately, it's your workforce and your leadership that needs to do the talking. Employee apps provide the infrastructure to boost communication, but for any of this to be effective, it's the people that need to be communicating in the first place. 

Although, with a good mix of strategy and commitment, aided by dependable employee engagement apps, businesses can easily find their way out of any communication crisis. 

Become a company that appreciates:

Employee appreciation is critical in a time when most employees feel like they are taken for granted. A 2017 report from Forbes discussed that around 66% of employees (and 76% millennials) would quit their job if they felt underappreciated. And these numbers are pre-covid, the statistics today are likely to be much higher. The point is, a company that appreciates its workforce is much more likely to retain it. Here is how businesses can be more appreciative using employee apps:

  • Improving employee appreciation and engagement is all about fostering a culture of appreciation. Having specific appreciation channels within your employee app can help build such a culture by providing a platform to deserving employees.
  • Appreciation is much well received in public and employees apps make a great platform for doing so because they help reward committed employees in a connected environment.
  • The best way to make your company culture more appreciative is conducting regular appreciation events to keep your employee motivated, these can be easily hosted on the employee app of your choice. But moving beyond organized efforts, even a passing compliment or an appreciative gesture can sometimes make a huge difference.  

Employee appreciation is at the center of workforce engagement because every worker wants to feel valued and employees apps provide a great opportunity to communicate just that. 

Become a company that listens:

Another piece in the employee engagement puzzle is feedback. More specifically, employee generated feedback. When companies are receptive to what their workforce has to say, workers feel engaged and valued. And employee apps can be a great medium for generating input and feedback. So, how do you generate feedback using employee apps?

  • The first and most easiest approach is employee surveys and feedback boxes. Employee apps can help deliver surveys and feedback forms to every worker within the organization, especially those on the front lines. Instead of office based feedback boxes, organizations can incorporate feedback channels within their employee apps, making these accessible to every worker.
  • Conducting stay and exit interviews is also an effective strategy as it helps retain key employees as well as sheds light on what may cause them to consider a job switch. Employee apps can help with these, especially in times when a significant chunk of the population is working remotely, by allowing for one on one and team based interviews and communication.
  • Though most companies try gathering feedback, many make the mistake of assuming that that’s all they need to do. The difference comes down to implementing the received feedback and letting your employees know that you’ve been listening to them. Start with conducting a monthly or quarterly feedback/announcement event on your employee app which not just gathers relevant feedback from your employees, but also announces the changes that have been made based on prior feedback from the last event.

Employee apps are a fantastic tool when it comes to collecting, organizing and discussing employee feedback. They allow companies the opportunity to listen to their wide and diverse workforce on a single platform. But ultimately, to turn feedback into engagement, companies need to go beyond just gathering feedback to implementing it. 

Become a company that can organize:

When running a business, it is always preferred to have the best tools and technologies. However, having too many options can soon become counterproductive, as employees can get overwhelmed simply trying to get everything organized rather than getting any real work done. To help your employees be as productive as possible, and hence engaged, companies need to organize their workflows in ways that foster creativity and improve focus. Employee apps can once again help us achieve this. 

  • For starters, employee apps can make file sharing and document management much more easier and convenient. This allows for real time collaborations and greater transparency. 
  • Employee apps can also come in handy with tasks like setting up schedules and meetings, setting up to-do lists, setting up reminders and running errands. They help workers by enabling them to better manage their time.
  • Modern employee apps can also act as a central hub where various products and services that employees use can all be integrated into a single platform for better ease of access and usability. 

To get the most of their workforce, employers need to help organize workflows for their workforce. That includes structuring work around tools in a way that adds to employee productivity, and employee apps can help companies achieve that.

The Future of Employee Apps

The fact that companies like Meta are investing in improving their employee applications tells us a lot about how valuable employee apps are. Every new feature or update rolled out by a company like Meta is sure to be backed by significant research. This means that when large players like Workplace double down on addressing an issue—in this case, poor employee engagement—then, it is more than likely that they’ve discovered this to be a widespread and urgent problem, best addressed by the solution at hand i.e. employee apps. 

Companies like Workplace are piecing together the first generation of solutions designed for improving employee engagement and experience. Workplace’s decision to integrate WhatsApp wasn’t just a product announcement but an indicator of a significant shift in the industry. At the center of which is the awareness that employee experience is critical to any organization moving forward. As corporate leaders and employees continue to value employee engagement; more employee-facing technologies, and better solutions are likely to emerge, further disrupting our work environment.

Workplace quote

All things considered, employee apps are causing significant changes in the way we work, with the sole purpose of helping businesses provide a better employee experience. And most business leaders recognize this as well. Workplace’s aforementioned deskless not voiceless report states that around 95% of business leaders recognize the value of collaborative tools, but only 56% have managed to roll them out. In the near future, we can expect a growing number of businesses to adopt employee apps which will prompt further development and adoption for these apps. With wide scale adoption and an array of compelling features, employee apps will become central to employee experience, if they aren’t already.  

To Conclude

In conclusion, the economy is undergoing massive shifts post-pandemic. But as the turbulence and uncertainty dissipate, employee experience is emerging  as a top priority for most workers and businesses alike. While companies are keen on improving their employee experience amidst the ensuing crisis, many are seriously struggling with finding practical solutions to do so. 

However, one of the most effective ways of immediately boosting employee experience is bridging the employee-business communication gap. This allows for greater productivity by improving efficiency and information flow. But it also helps employees, remote and frontline workers especially, to feel more involved, appreciated, and connected with their organization. 

Improving business communication is best achieved by emerging employee facing technology like collaborative employee communication apps. Employee apps provide tech-based solutions for improving employee engagement. They can help businesses communicate with and appreciate their employees better, while also helping companies organize and optimize their workflows and incorporate employee feedback. Employee apps are helping combat an age old problem with modern technology and as these apps become mainstream, the technology powering them will continue to improve as well. 

To sum up, employee apps are here and currently they are our best answer to poor employee engagement in the workplace. How these apps will change the business dynamic is yet to be seen but we can be rest assured that employee apps in the future will be a huge part of running a business and maintaining a happy workforce.

Darren Mathew
Darren Mathew

Author Bio: Darren is a writer passionate about Technology, Business, and the evolving relationship between the two. He often tries to bring intriguing perspectives to otherwise familiar ideas, striving to help his audience reimagine the ever-changing tech landscape. He works as a blogger and content marketeer at GoodFirms—a leading review and rating platform built to help brands pick the right service providers for them.

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