What is an employee app?

An employee app is a mobile-first platform that connects the desk and dispersed workforce, and serves as a one-stop destination for all employees for all their work needs. An ideal employee app should not only enable communications. It must be able to perform various functions that ramp up an employee’s workday by making it more effortless, efficient and productive. These include communication, process automation, employee engagement, and so on.

Why traditional mediums don’t work

Earlier, organizations used to bank on traditional mediums for employees like intranet, email, bulletin boards and even physical team huddles with an aim of bringing out the best in them. However, with changing times, there were two big stumbling blocks that did not let that happen.

Lack of access: Any employee platform works only when everyone is on them. Traditional mediums are primarily built for desk workers. They have easy access to office notices, newsletter pamphlets, emails, desktop Intranet, etc. However, the human resources landscape is evolving rapidly. Currently, around 80% of the global workforce works outside the confines of the office space. We are talking about a 2.7 billion-strong global deskless workforce. They are the blue-collared employees who don’t work out of an office setup with desks, desktop computers, etc. Think janitors, hotel staff, retail store associates, couriers, fleet drivers, factory workers, and so on. They are on-the-go all the time. It’s practically impossible for organizations with a large number of non-desk employees to loop them in on a traditional medium. Firstly, the frontline staff are mostly outside the office. Also, most of them don’t have corporate email addresses or access to desktop Intranets. 

Changing requirements: The needs and preferences of employees have undergone a sea change over the last few years. Everyone has access to smartphones now. And not everybody is comfortable doing their daily work on clunky desktop computers. New-age millennium and Gen Z employees are ditching paper-based channels for good. And since remote working is a reality, most employees prefer digital meetings over face-to-face huddles. In such an environment, it is not easy to tap the full potential of employees through traditional channels.

The organic solution to this problem is easy: going digital. Mobile employee apps are the modern-day platforms that connect and leverage the full potential of employees. Modern mobile-first employee apps are built for the modern workforce. A modern employee wants his employee experience to be sound in the organization. An employee app is tailormade to provide transparency, openness and human connection for the millennials and the Gen-Z. They go above and beyond a traditional intranet to offer a mobile-first solution to connect the entire workforce — no matter where they are.

Enterprise vs consumer employee apps

Don’t forget we are talking about enterprise-grade employee apps here. Consumer apps used by employees to perform a set of operations (like chats, light file transfers etc.) are not employee apps at all. There are organizations that allow the use of consumer apps like WhatsApp, Messenger, etc. among their employees to stay connected. But it does more harm than good. 

First, it is highly unsecure. It also lacks total control since it is a third-party app. Enterprise features like engagement and productivity tools, analytics, ability to support heavy file exchanges are non-existent or limited. Plus, it is very distractful as personal and official communication takes place over the same platform. Enterprises looking to onboard an employee app should go for an enterprise-grade employee app that ticks all the right boxes and comes with all the necessary functions. Offering an easy and relatable consumer app-like experience at the same time.

Win-win for employees and employers

The fact that they are called employee apps means they are built primarily to cater to employee needs. On one hand, employees stay happy by staying connected on a platform of their choice. Since this better engages them, work satisfaction and motivation go up. This has a direct impact on workforce productivity. Thus, from an employer’s point of view too, an enterprise-grade employee app is striking gold. Moral of the story: An employee app is a win-win for both employees and their employers.

No wonder the market is flooded with employee apps, each claiming the very best for organizations. If you cut through the clutter, there should be a handful of fundamental features the perfect employee app should sport. Let’s take a look at them. 

Key features of a really awesome employee app

Loopholes-less onboarding: An employee app can’t just serve a section of the workforce. It should be able to rope in the entire set of employees — whether desk-based or deskless — without any slips. It’s best if an employee app does not make corporate email address mandatory for registration. Doing this would alienate most of the non-desk employees who don’t have the credentials. 

Only an employee app, where employees can onboard simply through either their mobile number or personal email address, is able to act as an overarching channel for an organization that loops in all. This makes adoption rates surge and onboarding a matter of seconds. 

Multi-channel experience: To capture the growing set of deskless workers, employee apps are mobile-first. But they also have their desktop versions to provide a seamless multi-channel experience. Any work or conversation started on an employee app on a smartphone or iPad can be easily continued on the desktop computer and vice versa. Such a versatile function ensures stickiness of both desk-based and deskless employees to the app.

Easy user experience: The user experience of employee apps are best kept simple. An easy, relatable and social media-like experience increases the comfort quotient of employees with the app and increases their active participation on the platform. A mix of fresh design, uncluttered look and feel, smooth navigation and seamless operations is a crucial and unputdownable factor that makes employee apps an instant hit with workforce globally.

Real-time communication: Employees are onboarded, they like the experience, so the stage is set. Reach-outs now become easy and effective. The backbone of any employee app is its communication function. Whether it is top-down broadcasts, bottom-up communication or targeted reach outs; whether it is peer-to-peer chats or group chats; whether it is feeds-style communication or chat-based — an employee app should have it all. Open communication flattens hierarchies and drives relevant conversations with meaningful feedback. 

Real-time and multi-directional communication not only keeps every employee on the same page but also enables crisis management and  transmission of important company updates and last-minute work updates. Those employee apps that go the extra mile to offer features like file exchanges, push notifications, digital read receipts, analytics, etc., beat competition and emerge as the favorites. What’s more, as they promote free, fair and open communication, employee apps enable a positive culture at work. 

Robust security: Employee apps are veritably becoming the prime channel of work communication across enterprises today. So security has to be stringent with all the bells and whistles in place. Especially when enterprise security is going through a rough phase. With BYOD and deskless workers using their smartphones outside office, hacking into sensitive company materials turns easy. Only an employee app with robust, bank-grade security will be able to avert such potential security lapses.

The modern employee app comes armed with security features like biometric authentication, remote revocations, data wipes, strong encryptions, etc. to prevent internal documents from falling into the wrong hands. Plus, it should comply with all necessary globally accepted standards to avert risks. An employee app that guarantees strong security and compliance earns the trust of both employees and enterprises.

Process automation: The days of manual operations are passe. With its advances into the workplace, AI is your new digital colleague. Employee apps, powered by AI, unravels the true value of technology and makes work smarter for employees. While in-app chatbots can simplify searches, answer simple questions and pull up various organizational details on demand, workflows can automate mundane, repetitive tasks like following up pending tasks with reminders and push notifications, approval or rejection of leave/ reimbursement requests, and so on. Error rates go down as a result and employees can use saved time for more productive pursuits. 

Employee engagement: What use is connecting people if you are not able to keep them engaged on the platform? An employee app that is designed around this realization hits the jackpot. Employee engagement in the US is at an all-time high. But that’s only a mere 34% of the working population. This means a huge 66% still feels disengaged at work. Now is the best time for an employee app to have all the tools in place to ensure the best engagement. 

Think about birthday reminders, employee recognition, polls and surveys, idea sourcing, and so on. The use of an employee app resulted in Palazzo Versace, a boutique hotel in Dubai, upping its employee engagement scores and happiness model. “Team members now have a platform to express themselves and connect to any member of our organization, fostering a culture of open communication and transparency,” says Aljaneen Lentejas, Senior Manager, Learning and Development, Palazzo Versace.

With engagement comes motivation, and that, in turn, leads to productivity. Also, with employee experience and workplace happiness creating a buzz all around, employee engagement should be a natural outcome of an employee app. 

Better productivity: Be it through easy communication or smooth operations, the ultimate aim of every organization purchasing license of an employee app is to ramp up workforce productivity. Built-in productivity tools in these apps make the job easier. 

Facing compliance issues in your retail store? Try a digital checklist. Assign checklists by roles, locations, etc., collect and upload necessary files, set deadlines, push notifications and schedule checklists daily or weekly. Need to track employee tasks and ensure their completion on time? Give task manager tool a try. You can easily track task progress, notify if task is facing a delay, upload files, set deadlines, repeat tasks, and so on. What’s more, the very best in the market also offers analytics that help admins gain rich insights into employee workdays to take data-backed, meaningful decisions.

Seamless integrations: Standard app makers offer basic features out-of-the-box with their employee apps. However, there’s no limit to an organization’s needs in order to get the best value out of their workforce. While some may demand translation services, others might ask for access to an external tool. Switching between apps leads to loss in productivity. Seamless integration in an employee app makes it easy for employees to connect to their favorite work apps (think enterprise directory integration) and third party apps (we’re talking about Google suite, Zoho, Zendesk, etc.) that makes the experience seamless and work more productive. 

Strong control: The best employee apps come with a host of granular controls. Strong admin capabilities not only reduce errors but also lead to robust app control and better organization. If an employee app does not have admin control features like who can view a particular post, what data to revoke, what users to add in a particular group, etc., it will most likely not be able to make the cut.

To top it all, an enterprise employee app must come with an intuitive admin console that is able to track user activity, performance and a gamut of other metrics. Measuring communication and productivity through an employee app boosts the ROI of investing in one. Powerful analytics and measuring data are no more a good-to-have feature in an employee app: it’s the new normal.

On-demand customization: Last, but certainly not the least, employee apps that come with easy customization options are the most well-received in the market. Be it whitelabeling or bespoke services like integration, curation, chatbots deployment, etc., customization is the name of the game in the enterprise app environment today. Some organizations may even want an app creation and deployment function present in the employee app of their choice. The list is endless. An employee app should ideally be able to provide such customized services to gain trust and drive satisfaction among its user base.

Now that you have a fair idea about what an employee app is and what functions should an enterprise-grade employee app ideally come with, you can easily review your existing app and check out better alternatives in the market, based on your requirements. 

The employee app which has it all

Why not try out Groupe.io? The mobile-first employee app connects the entire workforce, enables smooth communication, better engages workers and drives productivity through its in-built microapps and tools. All this in a highly secure environment. Alongside, the enterprise employee app is designed keeping the non-desk workforce in mind. So onboarding is a cakewalk with employees requiring only their mobile number or personal email address to register. The user experience is simple with easy navigation and social media-style functions. The multi-channel Groupe.io also boasts a strong admin console, endless customization and integration options and the automation advantage. The best part? It’s free for now.

Give the Groupe.io employee app a spin today and do more with your workforce. 

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Groupe.io recognized as an ‘Employee App of Choice’ in the 2020 Employee Apps Report by Clearbox Consulting Get the Report