An employee app running on mobile and desktop.
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Get started with an employee app: a guide for managers

Introducing and managing an employee app in your organization is easier than you think. Discover the steps to launch your employee app with a bang.

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With work constantly changing and frontline workers coming to the limelight, employee communication must go mobile. Allowing your employees to use the devices embedded in their daily lives can go a long way in increasing engagement.

But many IT, HR, and IC (Internal Communication) managers assume that setting up and maintaining an employee app is a long, tedious, and highly-technical process.

We’re here to break the myth. With a few simple steps and best practices, launching an employee app in your organization can be a breeze. In this post, we’ll show you how.

How to set up an employee app

From choosing an employee app to rolling it out, here’s all you need to know.

Decide the functionality you need 

Your internal communications strategy and goals will help you determine the features you need the most in an employee app.

For example, if one of your goals is to keep frontline workers engaged and informed throughout the day, it’ll help to have a social-media-style newsfeed workers can scroll through.

Blink offers a social media feed.

Other essential features you should consider include 3rd-party integrations, a centralized content library, and instant messaging.

Consult with your workforce 

Your employee app will have a better chance of getting adopted by workers when they have had a say in the decision-making process, right from the beginning. So take their inputs on the features to prioritize in the app.

For example, you can conduct interviews or surveys to ask for information on their day-to-day activities, preferred collaboration channels, work locations, and so on.

Choose the best employee app 

When considering an employee app, there is no shortage of options. Different apps cater to different types of organizations and requirements. That’s why it’s essential to take your strategy, goals, organization’s size, and workers into account.

For example, Blink is specifically meant for organizations with frontline workers — employees who often don’t even have official email addresses.

Another important factor to consider is the build-quality. When checking your options, evaluate each on how user-friendly, secure, and cost-effective the app is.

Most contenders in this area come with a free trial or demo. And some are even happy to create a sandbox environment for you at a low fee. So take advantage of such offers to put your shortlisted apps to test.

Develop a usage policy 

Letting anyone post anything on the employee app can often lead to impulsive or embarrassing messages. So before you launch an employee app, you should have a clear policy explaining the rules of using the app, and what type of information is allowed through it.

To determine what rules you should lay out in your policy, look at your previous communication challenges. Plus, you can consult with your legal team on the potential risks and the guidelines that can minimize them.

For example, by clearly stating that employees are not to post unauthorized advertisements or “chain letters,” you can prevent any misuse or illegal activity on the app.

Decide who has ownership of what 

When using an employee app, you can distribute responsibilities among different local managers and team leaders. This will make maintaining and updating the app easier for everyone involved. 

The distribution can be based on the type of content, department, or a specific area in the app. If it’s based on department, for example, you can assign HR to handle scheduling and benefits, IT to handle technical updates, and so on.

In fact, Blink lets you create teams and add members to those teams within the app. This way, you can create a virtual structure that mimics the actual structure in your organization and assign admin roles accordingly.

Set user role and responsibility in an employee app.

Roll out your employee app 

Once you have the basics in place, you should launch the employee app without delay. You can always add more content or make any advanced modifications later. Don’t wait to put everything in from the outset.

The sooner workers start using the app, the sooner you’ll have feedback and data to see what’s working and what’s not. This will allow you to make informed improvements, instead of relying on guesswork.

What does success look like?

Championing the new employee app across your organization is essential for a successful implementation. And you should regularly track usage and respond to feedback. The metrics you can review include:

  • Number of activated accounts
  • Active users
  • Feed posts shared
  • Total number of direct and group messages sent 

Most reputable employee apps these days come with reporting capabilities built-in. With Blink, for example, you can see insights on not just the overall app usage, but also on the reach and engagement of each message.

Blink offers post insights for all posts.

Setting up an employee app: best practice tips

Just deploying the employee app is not enough. You also need to promote the app right from the beginning, share content regularly through the app, and remove any friction that may cause problems later. And this should be done for everyone, from the top-level executives to the junior workers.

Get executive buy-in 

Executive buy-in can make or break your employee app experience. Senior leaders and managers can create content on their own, or you can assign someone to get their thoughts and post on their behalf. For example:

  • CEO videos that build enthusiasm and excitement
  • Live Q&A with the executive team where they can answer questions
  • A message from the CEO
Executives in live Q and A.

Create a buzz

For best results, treat the launch of your employee app like a marketing campaign. Remind employees to use the app at different touchpoints.

A multi-touch approach helps build excitement, momentum, and fear of missing out. So the more communication channels and the higher frequency of communication, the better! For example:

  • Invest in promotional materials. In fact, you can create launch kits for workers, each including merchandise (T-shirts, for example), a handbook, and other goodies. 
  • Create an automated series of emails to promote the app before, during, and after the launch. If you already have an employee newsletter, you can update the same to include app promotions.
  • Distribute training materials such as video tutorials and quickstart guides to help people get started with the employee app.

Throw a fun launch party

The launch day of your employee app is crucial. And your primary goal on that day is to get as many people as possible in your organization to sign up for the app.

Here are some ideas to build anticipation before, during, and right after the launch day:

  • Host a social event with BBQ, cupcakes, or drinks.
  • Share a short welcome video on behalf of each department’s champion/influencer to the people in that department.
  • Create a Top Use Cases guide and share it with your teams for inspiration.
  • Hold competitions/raffles to reward people who sign up by the launch day.
  • Capture the moments and share fun images, links, and information on the Feed that your colleagues can engage with.

Remember! It’s supposed to be fun. So enjoy the experience and encourage everyone to do the same.  

Promote employee app influencers

Having someone as an advocate for the employee app in each department can accelerate its adoption. Once you’ve picked an influencer from each team, you can:

  • Incentivize them to help with adoption and engagement. For example, get them some Influencer merchandise and SWAG.
  • Create an influencer pack to explain why you’re introducing an employee app and why their role is so important.
  • Host monthly or quarterly Influencer meetings. Ideally, these could be in person, with treats to make them feel special and valued. 
Influencers promoting an employee app.

Create a post-launch communication plan

Having a communication plan in advance will help you determine how to engage workers from the outset. This plan will also include a schedule for what messages are to be shared and when. These could be:

  • Feed posts that recognize employees, teams, or departments for their contributions.
  • Messages that celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and company achievements/events.
  • Group chats for teams and departments to start replacing your existing internal communications.
  • Regular contests and competitions, such as a remote “Bake Off Competition” where participants share their images on the newsfeed.

Here’s a template for what an internal communication calendar may look like for your company. 

WhenWhatWhoWhy
MonthlyMonthly company-wide Feed post to the entire organizationNational TeamFocus on a specific business area and update your workforce on company news, business strategy, benefit providers, successes, etc.
WeeklyFeed post from Manager to TeamTeam Manager/LeaderShare team-specific announcements, recognize effort, acknowledge issues/frustrations, and encourage a sense of community.
Daily1-2-1 and group messagesAll employeesCreate 1-2-1 and group chats with your colleagues—share links to relevant resources, locations, files, images, videos, and much more. Business as usual notices, updates, and social sharing.
Ad-hocFeed postTeam member to TeamAsk a question, share a poll, recognize team efforts in front of peers and celebrate individual and team successes.
Ad-hocHub contentUsers with a level of Admin accessMaintain Hub content and structure regularly, so employees have access to all the relevant shortcuts, documents, files, and systems they regularly need—remember to notify them about any new Hub content on the Feed too!

Final thoughts on getting started with an employee app

When launching an employee app in your organization, the most important skills you will need are empathy and leading by example.

You’ll need to convince employees at all levels to learn and use the app. And it’s not possible without understanding their needs and clarifying benefits in a way that resonates with them.

Once you have done that, check the employee app several times a day. Answer questions, recognize employees, and acknowledge posts published by others.

The more you and other senior leaders use the app, the more workers will use it too. The result would be better overall engagement and productivity.

Also, if you haven’t decided which employee app to get for your workplace, take a look at Blink. Get a free demo today.