How to use the latest technology to achieve employee engagement


The time has come for us to rethink our engagement approach and apply lessons learned from the consumer sphere. Mobile technology has already changed how companies do business but they have yet to exploit its many merits in the name of employee engagement.

You’ll learn:
•    To rethink the current approach of reaching and engaging every employee
•    The opportunity available by introducing mobile technology
•    How to achieve the best employee engagement results from deploying mobile technology

Who are we trying to engage?

You may think this is a strange question to ask but unfortunately, it’s necessary. If I were to ask every employee engagement professional, most would say ‘everyone’. I agree. We should be trying to engage everyone. But, for decades, we have been casually ignoring the majority of our employees. 

80% (2.4 billion globally) are non-desk employees (NDEs). These ‘untethered’ workers are difficult to reach and near impossible to hear from. Rather than collectively doing something about it, we have been sticking our heads in the sand and continuing to focus on engaging those we can see and reach – the office employee. 

Traditional approaches

Traditional digital channels, such as intranets and most enterprise social networks (ESNs), primarily serve employees who are desk-based. Of the 80% of NDEs around the world, 83% have no corporate email address - so accessing a corporate intranet or ESN is near impossible. 84% say they receive not enough communication to perform their jobs effectively. These employees are making products and serving customers as the face of the brand.

I’m not advocating a focus only on NDEs. Of course a holistic approach is the only way to drive end-to-end engagement. The continued increase in work flexibility, often referred to as the digital workplace, means that desk-based employees also expect to be connected with their colleagues, systems and customers, while on the go. Systems which are mobile and easy to access anytime, anywhere, are now becoming the norm. 

Gone are the days of top-down communications, archaic document libraries, corporate newsfeeds, and ghost written letters from the CEO.

Going mobile

A mobile revolution happened in the consumer sphere over nine years ago. Why is the world of enterprise lagging? 

Employees are consumers also; they have become accustomed to using intuitive tools, which provide relevant information, in real time. They are no longer waiting for their employers to provide them with these tools. If the company doesn’t provide them, they will use externally available tools for work purposes. Evernote and Facebook are great examples. This presents the IT team with a host of issues, such as loss of control, data security and knowledge management.

Mobile can be an extremely effective engagement channel as it knows who you are, where you are and what you like. 

We are becoming addicted to our smartphones, relying on them to complete ever-increasingly critical tasks. The average person checks their phone over 150 times a day. Despite this, productivity is barely rising. Companies must adopt employee experiences that put employees at the heart. 

Enterprise seems wedded to desktop experiences, a one-size-fits-all approach, which focuses on push communications and document management. Yet, when we look at consumer experiences, this approach has long gone. 

Consumer mobile experiences use the best of peer-to-peer, democratized, media-rich, crowd-sourced communication and innovation. Imagine the transformation in employee engagement if the organisation was to adopt even half of these approaches. 

A recent survey found that small companies, which were defined as “mobile leaders” - due to the intensity of mobile usage - saw 200% greater revenue growth and hired people at a rate 800% faster than “mobile laggards.”

Transformational technology

If we wish to transform how enterprises engage their employees, then we have to adopt transformational approaches. Given the technological era we are currently in, adopting transformational technology as part of the approach is an obvious choice.

Transformational technology brings together social, mobile, analytics, and cloud (SMAC) capabilities with a new platform to improve every employee experience.

Enabling employees to engage with anyone, anytime, anywhere and being able to accurately measure the engagement, spot trends and opportunities would transform the way companies do business.

The winning trinity

For companies who are looking at introducing a mobile channel, there are three aspects that are critical to success – the winning trinity.

1.    Immediacy – providing employees with content in real time. Finding out about company news as it happens, internally rather than via external sources, like Google alerts.

2.    Context – delivering only relevant news and updates so employees are seeing what they need to know rather than ‘noise’ from across the business. Many companies deploy internet solutions which quickly overwhelm their employees as they start to drown in a sea of information. Important content gets missed while content that is irrelevant to the individual gets pride of place.

3.    Design – enterprise grade solutions are no longer going to cut it. As mentioned earlier, employees expect a consumer-like experience. If you don’t provide them with one, they will source their own tool externally and ignore yours. 

Content strategy and approach

The content you publish on a mobile platform is as important as the channel itself. Publishing desktop content on a mobile platform won’t get you the engagement you are looking for. 

The following are guidelines for copy length:

Mobile content should be short, to the point, solicit interaction where possible, and include rich media such as images and videos.

A shortcut to driving engagement on a mobile channel is to enable user-generated content. This means giving employees a voice. Most channels will provide a moderation layer, reassuring administrators that control is not lost. However, the message it gives employees is integral to engagement: ‘We trust you, we want to hear from you, your opinion really matters’.

Crowd-sourcing video

If you wish to take the engagement experience up a notch, encourage crowd-sourced video content. This may work better in certain cultures (company and geographic) but when it does, it is a very powerful engagement driver. 

Encouraging leaders to create video via their smartphone rather than expensive and often dry, scripted captures, will be very well received by employees. Replacing a letter from the CEO, which is often farmed out to the communications team, with a short authentic video will receive more engagement that you would imagine.


Jump on or get left behind

Mobile technology continues to change the world. It has already changed how we do business, for the better. If you wish to transform the employee experience, take the first step and explore how mobile technology can improve the company. 

There are many options out there to suit every type of business, budget and culture. Those who grasp the strategic opportunity, will lead the way over the coming years. Those who wait to see what others will do, will join the laggards.


[1] Kevin Spain:

[2] Tribe Report 2012:

[3] Tribe Report 2012:

[4] Mary Meeker, Liang Wu. KPCB Internet Trends 2013. Available at:

[5] Boston Consulting Group (BCG): 

Ciara O’Keeffe, is VP of Product and Customer Delivery, StaffConnect. She is a digital communications leader, speaker, author and judge. Having gained experience within HR and Internal Communication roles at Unilever, L’Oréal and Diageo, she now specializes in enterprise mobile technology. Ciara has led multiple projects to launch apps in enterprises around the world.

Twitter: @CommsOKeeffe