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Good internal communications and employee engagement are essential to running a successful business, no matter the company size.

Effective internal communication is indeed vital for developing trust within an organisation and is shown to have significant impact on employee engagement, organisational culture and productivity. Yet research from the UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) suggests that many employees feel they receive limited or very little information.

It’s not surprising then, that the UK’s business sector has a below-average reputation for employee engagement, even though we’re meant to be technologically advanced, multicultural and inclusive. After surveying 7,000 employees from various businesses around the world, leading business and employee engagement research company ORC International ranked the UK #18 out of 20 countries for employee engagement.

ORC certainly recognises that if a company is to seize tomorrow’s profitable business opportunities before anyone else does and develops the perfect product to take to market, that company needs to deliver an ideal customer experience. And before any of that can happen there’s the matter of creating an internal culture that attracts, engages and retains the very best employees. Because it’s those motivated individuals who will deal with customers and create that excellent customer experience in the first place.

And it’s not only ORC highlighting the challenge: a survey reported on in HR Magazine revealed that only 37% of UK workers feel encouraged to be innovative and less than 50% felt valued at work. Wow! Before such a demotivated workforce is let loose on a customer, things need to improve internally, but how?

Well, traditional methods of internal communications such as printed newsletters or time-consuming meetings, are too labour-intensive and costly in today’s business environment. A much better approach is for employers to leverage the rise of social media and their employees’ own digital skills. It’s something IBM has encouraged for years now, according to chief executive of Havas Media, Paul Frampton. As far back as 2010 IBM left it up to employees to interact on social media – it had no corporate Twitter account itself, rather leaving it to staff, to post whatever they wanted about the company; in so doing, IBM began achieving a range of internal and external communications objectives in an entirely new way. Frampton said that too many CEOs bury their heads in the sand, having not shifted from the command-and-control management style they grew up with, adding that being accessible enough and prepared to enter into conversations and learn from others is key.

So, where does this all lead us? Smartphones are ubiquitous across corporate environments and some experts claim social media rather than e-mail, or a company blog, are more likely to be read by millennial employees, so the one obvious tool for modernising your internal communication strategy is to use a mobile app. Also many organisations have a majority of their workforce without access to email, intranet, laptop or company phone, like workers in retail, construction, factories, public buildings (ports, train stations, stadiums) but like over 80% of the UK population, they do carry their smartphone everywhere, including at work.

First Bus Aberdeen has leveraged that fact to offer timely and relevant communication to all of their staff, we helped them build an app to reach everyone at any time for two-way live updates, and this has raised the engagement and interest level of all employees, especially the 350 bus drivers who used to get only 10 minutes of management briefing per day, too short to catch up on all company news and impossible for the staff print magazine to be up-to-date. Apps can certainly enhance internal employee communications with instant updates on news stories, image galleries, videos, presentations, documents and more.

We agree with CIPD that communication is a critical aspect of employee engagement, which in turn promotes better performance, employee retention and well-being. Employees are more engaged when information flows freely and they’re made aware of organisational activities and management decisions that affect their roles.

See how our clients used their own mobile apps to revitalise their internal communication strategy and boost employee engagement.

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