Did you know that 78% of Americans are emotionally disconnected at work?
What’s worse, Gallup has tallied up the cost of these unhappy, disengaged employees in the U.S. at $350 billion annually.
Here’s the interesting thing about those numbers:
They coincide with “The Age of Email”—an era in America’s workplace history that’s been defined by the countless hours employees spend sorting, filing, forwarding, and searching endless email threads as teams seek to solve problems, showcase accomplishments, demonstrate progress, and keep everyone in the loop.
On the one hand, email has a lot of potential. It can be a great tool for connecting teams, clarifying critical information, and communicating company culture.
Except when it doesn’t. Because sometimes—a lot of times, actually—email is used the wrong way. At the wrong times. For the wrong kinds of business communications. And that’s when things start to go awry.
Allow me to explain…
Company culture is the key to employee engagement.
Unfortunately, an over reliance on email can kill it.
We’ve long known that company culture is the key to developing a productive, profitable work environment where employees are exceptionally engaged. According to IES and The UK Institute for Work Studies, increasing employee engagement investments by just 10% can increase profits by $2,400 per employee, per year.
Yet creating a killer culture has long eluded even the most motivated CEOs and team leads. One explanation for this is the fact that many well-meaning leaders often overlook the silent killer in their midst.
Yep, I’m talking about inefficient email.
It’s not that email is bad. Far from it. But what was once an effective communication tool for driving engagement has morphed into an ever-present, unwieldy repository for everything from spam to critical communications … with no easy way to distinguish important news from colossal wastes of time.
For decades, email was the primary means of communication and collaboration. The result? Many leaders continue to over-rely on email to keep everyone connected and create culture. They’ll sweat over subject lines and methodically craft compelling paragraphs that in reality never get more than a quick, sad skim.
Depending too heavily on email to engage employees can turn an otherwise productive tool into a monster of overwhelm. Creating culture in today’s fast-paced environment requires so much more: short bursts of communications that are easy to digest, company goals that are simple to access, affinity groups and activities that can be quickly discovered and joined…and the list goes on. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: We already fixed all that with Slack chats and channels. Email excess is down. The problem’s been solved.
Not so. Different platform. Same issues. When productivity is paramount, sorting through chat archives isn’t all that different from combing through email threads.
There’s an alternative to email and chat excess that offers a way out of this mess.
Here’s yet another interesting mix of statistics:
Americans check their smartphones 150 times a day. We reportedly stare at small screens for an estimated 3 hours and 40 minutes. And that’s not all. New research indicates we actually consult with our smartphone screens twice as much as we think we do.
Just think about how much of that time is spent scrolling through stacks of chat channels and email threads to identify the gems and translate autosuggest errors.
Now imagine a smartphone setup where the most valuable information magically moves to the forefront in a way that’s clear, compelling and engaging.
Bliss, right? Well, that’s exactly what happens when you use a mobile app for work.
How to engage employees with a mobile app.
Engaging employees on mobile—instead of email—has the power to turn this:
A mobile app is a powerful thing. It allows organizations to connect with employees exactly where, when, and how they want. In Recipe for Digital Workplace Execution: Transform the Employee Experience, the guys at Gartner put it this way:
“Employees expect high-quality and consumer-grade experiences at work, which they witness in their personal lives.”
After all, your employees are using mobile apps in every other area of life. Why wouldn’t they expect to have an app for work? Mobile apps make it much easier to engage employees and create a culture of camaraderie. When you know precisely how and when your audience prefers to receive messages, delivering highly relevant notifications through the means they prefer is a cinch.
For example, you can:
- Use push notifications to introduce new employees, celebrate birthdays, share important announcements and more. This not only eliminates a huge chunk of email excess, but also allows you to tailor a delivery system for important messages based on the devices employees use daily hourly.
- Create interactive portals for important communications.A mobile suggestion box makes it easy for employees to offer input and for human resources teams to access, aggregate, analyze, and implement them. Likewise, a central location for company goals and objectives keeps critical communication top of mind.
- Structure activities that promote happiness in the workplace. With a mobile app, you can quickly unite employees through shared interests, organize outings, and offer some spontaneity—all while ensuring no one is unintentionally left out.
The key to engaging employees all starts with a culture of camaraderie and engagement—the kind that simply can’t be created with email. Thankfully, there are newer and better ways to foster lasting, loyal relationships in the workplace.
Looking for more ideas and best practices to boost employee engagement? Download the guide to developing a strong company culture!