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Preparing Your Employees – Internal Comms App Deployment

Ciara O’KeeffeCiara O’Keeffe·
Internal Comms App Deployment

If you’re considering adding an internal communications (IC) app to your channel mix, I’ve identified 5 key steps to follow.

For one of the steps ‘Preparing the Launch’, I recommend involving your employees. Having worked on many IC app deployments, companies who involved their employees early on had a far easier journey than those who didn’t.

A recommended approach for this is to run a focus group with your employees. There are many benefits to doing this, such as giving you an opportunity to establish early champions for the tool. It can also provide you with insights on where the tool can add business value for certain roles, functions or locations.

Below I provide some tips on running a focus group, which I have seen work for many companies. There’s no one way to do this, but some of the points should help guide your approach. I also focus on the topic of content and how to set yourself up for success in this area.

What you’ll need

  • A half day
  • A cross-selection of your employees gathered together. Ensure you have representation from different levels, locations and functions
  • At least one example demo app they can play with, to help them visualize how they may use the tool
  • A white board to draw up how things may look
  • A notebook to make copious notes on what employees suggest

Before you start, give them context; why are you even considering introducing this tool? If possible, link it to feedback you’ve received from employees or results of a recent survey. Remember you’ve been on this journey longer than they have so go slowly and explain the decisions you’ve taken so far and why.

It will be difficult for your employees to imagine something they’ve never used before. Show them screenshots of what other companies are using or, if possible, give them at least one demo product to test out.

There are certain areas which are important to discuss with your employees and get their input on. One of these areas is content. When it comes to content, you will have to learn to think differently about this channel versus more traditional IC channels.

It’s important to remember that mobile content should be shorter and ‘snackable’. If print is 100%, then desktop content should be 50% of print and mobile, 50% of desktop. Use the small screen to your advantage, shorter pieces of content can engage a larger audience, faster. There’s also an engagement opportunity in that you can encourage employees to create content. Many employees will already be familiar with posting images, updates and sharing information via their mobile device.

A natural next step in this conversation would be to ask your employees if they feel comfortable in sharing content themselves. This is going to be an important discussion. You will have some individuals who are the internal amplifiers of important announcements. You should continue to encourage them while working with the employees who are ‘digitally shy’. Lower their fear barrier by giving them examples of the type of content they could produce. Make sure you give them examples of both ‘work related’ and ‘social’ content.

An area that trips communicators up, in regards to content, is document management and editing. As a guide, approximately 70% of the time mobile is used to consume and share content and the remaining 30% of the time to create content. Planning to use a mobile to ‘download’ and edit documents is not an approach I’d recommend. Think of how you use your smartphone, when was the last time you edited a word document, completed a downloaded form or accessed a PowerPoint deck?

Ask your employees what they would like to see more of. Have some suggestions based on previous feedback you’ve gathered. You can add to the list and then work with them to prioritize it. Find out who, in the business, they would be interested in hearing from. Have your employees expressed an interest in hearing from your leaders more often? Research conducted by Tribe Inc. (http://www.tribeinc.com/)  found that employees who only heard leadership messages through their manager felt they weren’t important enough to be communicated with directly.

I will be covering this topic in more detail along with an overview of the “5 Steps to App Success” during a webinar on Wednesday 27 April at 4pm BST/11am EST/8am PDT.

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