The way we work has changed radically over the last 30 years and with the advent of flexible working it has made it more important that staff in a business are effectively communicated with by management and vice versa. Fortunately, smartphones can come to the rescue as businesses now benefit from using a company app for internal use. But, what are the essential good features of an employee app or a company app?
The starting point is to establish a need. Apps can be pricey to develop (but not necessarily) so it’s important to clarify what existing problems a company app will solve. It’s no use developing an app if it isn’t going to address internal issues or provide any solutions. Start by listing the existing problems (e.g. informing all staff of general notices, managing annual leave, etc.) and this will, with the help of an app developer, begin the list of features that your app will need to have.
There are, however, some features that may be essential so here are thirteen (lucky for some!) good features to start you off.
1. User groups: Different people in your organisation may have different levels of privilege to access information. Defining user-groups can help with the planning of the app to decide which employees have access to which information.
2. Push notifications: There’s no such thing as a traditional noticeboard anymore. And while most companies have some sort of internal messaging system, at the least group emails, push notifications will enable you to make sure all employees receive any important messages.
3. Documents, policies and manuals: A document repository is an important addition and can provide easy access for HR policies, risk assessment forms, standard letterheads, anything really that staff should have access to. Documents can be categorised and even locked for certain staff if they are not privy due to their level of authority.
4. Employee directory: Large organisations may have different points of contact that employees may deal with, e.g. HR, accounts, the boss, etc. Having a section on the app whereby employees can quickly and easily contact the right member of management staff is an important feature.
5. Cafeteria menu: Maybe for larger companies, but having an up-to-date menu on the app is a nice feature, especially if employees are meeting over a working lunch.
6. Surveys and polls: App surveys and polls are an easy addition and allow management to garner opinion from employees. Including staff in the process of policy changes or decision making is important for morale and an app is the perfect platform with which to do it.
7. Locations: Again for larger companies, but if a business is spread over several sites then providing employees with the locations and contact details of key people is an important time-saving feature. Including GPS/Google Map links is handy for employees who travel frequently between sites.
8. Live chat: Quick and easy to include for employees who want to ask questions of management. Live chat removes the need for a phone call and is an unobtrusive use of the recipient’s time.
9. Submit reports: Often, reports need to be submitted by staff. Any paper-based reports can be replaced by a form submission, for example, employees who have to submit site surveys or risk assessments can do this via the app which is then sent via a web form and can be converted to a printable format.
10. Events: An events calendar is a useful addition and could be used to log staff holidays, staff dos, company closing dates for bank holidays, etc.
11. Messageboard: Apps can be useful for empowering staff as well as saving management time. A messageboard where employees can ask questions to be answered by other members of staff is a way of reducing demand on management as well as engendering collaboration amongst staff members.
12. App improvements/feedback: Ongoing development is important so asking staff to submit suggestions for additional app features should be included. The staff are going to be using the app more than anyone else so making sure it’s stays beneficial and useful to them is important to ensure they keep using it as initially intended.
13. Managing it yourself: The app should have a central dashboard that gives you the ability to manage it yourself. It’s useless having an app where you need the help of the developer to send out push notifications, download submitted documents, log holiday requests, etc. Not only should you be autonomous in its management, but it should also be easier to manage than whatever systems you had that the app is replacing.
Most of us have smartphones and probably all of us have downloaded and installed an app only to uninstall it less than two minutes later because it doesn’t do what we want it to. Therefore, it’s worth reiterating, that an internal company app has to solve a problem or at the least, make things better. Changing employees’ habits is difficult at the best of times so getting everyone to adopt a new system of internal communication involves everyone being on board.
Therefore, proper market research and stakeholder opinion is vital to ensure whatever solution is arrived at is going to be used by all employees. Asking the staff themselves what issues an app needs to solve for them is an important exercise so they don’t feel that the app is being inflicted on them and is solely there to solve management issues.
In the end, you’ll have an app that improves internal workflows and communication from the boss’ point of view but also something that improves the working conditions and general happiness of your staff. When you’ve done that, why not get in touch with us and we can help you get it all together?! We can even help you with the stakeholder research too. 😉