Our mobile phones are taking over — at home and at work. A 2016 ComScore report indicates that mobile represents 65 percent of “digital time,” while the desktop is swiftly becoming a “secondary touchpoint.” While we’re far away from abandoning our computers, leading employers are finding ways to integrate mobile technology into HR and work processes.
Not too long ago, employers were quick to minimize mobile usage at work, fearing distraction and loss of productivity. If we’ve learned anything in the past few years, it’s that companies who embrace the mobile revolution will outpace the competition.
In fact, mobile is being used across today’s top businesses to increase employee engagement and effectively communicate with employees on their preferred channel. Not only has the basic text message been fully embraced as an appropriate method for communication (even between managers and their employees), we’re also seeing a rise in the number of companies turning to internal mobile applications to engage workers.
And it’s not just employers that are thinking about how to leverage mobile at work — it’s top of mind for employees, too. Research from Mindshare NA and Dynamic Signal indicates that 55 percent of employees think a mobile application could help them stay more informed and engaged with their company.
Just like the adoption of any new HR technology, turning to mobile as a primary communication and employee engagement strategy in the workplace has brought about a new set of challenges. Change management must scale, and for true acceptance of mobile communication to occur, we must get the buy-in of the individual employee.
In the words of Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter, successful companies develop “a culture that just keeps moving all the time.” Today’s mobile movement is growing quickly, and it’s primarily driven by employees themselves, who prefer to communicate on alternative channels, at all times of day. So what are the logical steps to managing the acceptance and function of mobile engagement at work?
Four Rules for Mobile Etiquette
Getting employees on board with using their mobile devices or downloading an internally branded mobile application that can be used for HR processes shouldn’t be that difficult. After all, the majority of workers today have relied on mobile devices as a primary method of communication for most of their lives. Yet, researchers reported to Strategy+Business that CEOs, when asked what keeps them up at night, say they’re concerned about how the workforce will react to transition, how they can get their team to work together, and how they will be able to lead their people.
If mobile apps are used to strategically engage employees, organizations can minimize hesitancy to change and truly transform their culture from the ground up using mobile communication. Here are a few rules around the etiquette of mobile communication in the workplace:
- Keep messages bite-sized. Follow the same format you would for a tweet (140 characters). The longer the message, the greater the chance that whatever you’re trying to convey will get lost.
- Don’t force employees to be “always on.” While the technology might exist to communicate with your employees around the clock, there are boundaries. Try to send messages only during working hours, so employees don’t feel the need to be unnecessarily checking their mobile device when they should be recharging to come to work refreshed the next day.
- Use your own voice. A common question employers have is how personal or informal they can be when texting or using a mobile app to communicate to employees. The answer is to just be yourself. Send emojis from time to time, or if your organization has its own mobile app, send quick, funny polls every so often. This keeps communication feeling natural and human.
- Think of mobile apps as a way to brand your culture. Deloitte reports that 73 percent of employees who say they work at a “purpose-driven” company are engaged, compared to just 23 percent of those who don’t. Yet employees don’t know the mission, vision, or values of their companies, resulting in a disconnected employee who is just there to “do a job.” You can use a mobile app to really convey the key mission and priorities of your company or recognize employees for contributing toward key company goals that, in turn, drive a positive company culture.
Mobile is the only communication channel that comes second nature to employees. It makes sense for organizations of all shapes and sizes to not only recognize mobile applications and communication as commonplace, but also utilize mobile communication to convey company values, missions and goals. Mobile at work is a two-way street with benefits for everyone: employees benefit greatly from simple and regular mobile communication, while employers gain another channel to properly engage and recognize employees.
Todd Richardson is the founder and chief people officer for Indiana-based app maker Emplify.