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The definitive employee app definition

Two girls in overalls looking at a phome.

The definitive employee app definition

Digital workplaces can be vast, made up of a variety of digital tools, but employee apps enable frontline workers to do what they really need to from one place.

Employee apps draw together news, team communication, workflow and information access to create a pocket-sized digital workplace. They are particularly effective for firstline workers as a way to digitally equip them with a tool for daily use.

Staffbase mobile employee app.
Staffbase has very good news features.

This doesn’t mean that office workers won’t benefit from an app too, but their functionality has been designed from a mobile-first perspective which suits firstline workers more. It also doesn’t mean that every app is a Swiss army knife of tools; some do only a few things well and this is appropriate for some businesses.

These are therefore tools that could benefit a huge variety of businesses and it’s why we’ve spent hundreds of hours researching and reviewing them for our new report. The employee apps featured in our report are designed to do some, or all, of the following.

Give businesses a tool to share news and information

Firstline workers have often been labelled as ‘hard to reach’ because there wasn’t sufficient technology in order to reach them. (While intranets have mobile approaches, we have found that very few tackle the needs of firstline works in the same, agile manner as employee apps.) The busy employee app marketplace now provides tools that will reach people, no matter how infrequently they open a laptop or how dispersed the team is. This then gives communicators and senior managers tools to easily get messages and important information out to them for the first time. SocialChorus, Staffbase, Groupe.io and Sociabble are just a few employee apps that have very good company communication tools among their feature-set. Thrive and Speakap are just two examples of apps with slick designs offering a good user experience.

Beekeeper employee mobile app.
Beekeeper is strong with its chat and social tools.

Provide a platform for users to talk with each other

One-to-one or group messaging is an obvious use case for an employee app that bypasses the need for shadow communications channels like WhatsApp. Teammates can therefore talk to each other about shift swapping, or socialise together digitally.

This also leads into…

Create a sense of community and business engagement

Employee apps provide broadcast approaches through activity streams, comments, or dedicated discussion spaces. These often replicate social networks in their functionality, so are familiar to users. Having spaces to share thoughts and opinions, whether to colleagues and leaders as a whole or in small groups, helps create a sense of community as well as engagement with the business overall.

Workgrid employee app.
Workgrid shows users what they have ‘to do’ from integrated systems.

Beekeeper and Workplace are just two examples of employee apps that have very strong chat, social and employee engagement tools. Smarp provides great analytics, so admins can see how well everything within the app is being used.

Simplify working practices

Through integrations with other systems or through in-built practical tools, employee apps can simplify and streamline working practices. They can give users new ways of doing things or accessing information that may have previously been closed off to them, and with it provide a clear return on investment or money-saving through the reduction of other tools.

Workgrid and Blink provide some excellent in-built tools and integration options with third-party systems. Actimo has stand-out e-learning tools, reducing the need for a separate learning management system (LMS).

All-in-one but focused

That is a lot for any system to achieve, never mind a pocket-sized one. There are also many options. At the time of writing we have identified 62 employee app products that could be worth your consideration.

Suzie Robinson

I've always worked with intranets, and have practical experience with all aspects of intranet management, including research, implementation, governance, and strategy. My roots are in internal communication and I focus on employee experience and engagement.

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