Enhancing the Lines of Communication With Employees Through Mobile

By Steve French, Global VP of Product Management & Marketing, OpenMarket for Wired Insights

They are by our side day and night helping to improve everyday tasks in our personal lives by expediting daily activities, streamlining processes and improving communications. From hailing a cab, finding a recipe, and connecting with friends and family, to processing banking transactions, viewing photos, and communicating via email, text, voice and social media, we are constantly engaging with our mobile devices. This begs the question, with the world becoming more mobile-centric all the time – why aren’t our workplaces doing more to engage with employees via mobile?

Traditionally, mobile engagement within the enterprise has been effectively used as a way to connect with customers or partners. However, there is an untapped opportunity to extend mobile as a form of internal engagement with employees. In fact, according to ADP Research Institute, 42 percent of employees already use mobile technology for workday activities. Additionally, 70 percent of businesses believe mobile technology can raise workforce satisfaction, improve worker productivity, and enhance real-time decision making.

Although there is a lot of hype around trendy mobile technologies like apps and OTT messaging – the bread and butter capability most commonly used by today’s three billion global subscribers is SMS. The good news is, since 70 percent of enterprises already leverage SMS as their primary mobile engagement technology, IT is therefore familiar with how to integrate it into their day-to-day operations. In addition to supporting mobile as a platform, businesses should consider maintaining aspects of it that are most familiar to employees and can be easily added to the mix of current methods of communication.

Given its widespread acceptance in the workplace, stakeholders should focus on areas of the business where adopting two-way mobile messaging can make the biggest impact. Based on the work OpenMarket does with global enterprises, below are the top use cases for engaging with employees via the mobile channel:

IT Outage Notifications: Ensuring Business Continuity. Communicating efficiently with the right visibility across the IT organization is critical for success. A network or system glitch or outage can impact your service level agreements, putting your reputation and customer relationship at risk. With mobile notifications, businesses can easily alert the right staff and automatically escalate to gain additional support or management visibility when needed.

Emergency Alerts: Protecting Employee Welfare. Many organizations have a business continuity plan but haven’t established efficient emergency engagement processes. Between inclement weather, natural disasters, and security related events – contacting remote employees quickly has become increasingly important. Two-way automated text messaging solutions empower businesses to rapidly reach and notify employees, determine what kind of assistance they may need (i.e. safety, shelter, medical, or technical), and receive responses from employees to help determine next steps.

Two-Factor Authentication: Security for Everyone. While two-factor authentication (2FA) via text messaging isn’t new for customer-facing websites, the theft of laptops and other data breaches of critical business systems like the recent JP Morgan incident provide good reason for extending 2FA internally. Today, forward-thinking mobile enterprises are adding 2FA to their own internal portals and systems for employees, especially those containing confidential data.

Timesheet Reminders: Everyone Likes to be Paid. Whether it’s an MMS reminder that you need to submit a timesheet, a simple SMS notification that your paycheck has been deposited in your bank account, or that an expense reimbursement has been approved, employees care about their finances and value receiving these alerts and ahead of their cluttered e-mail inboxes.

Wellness Programs: Be Happy. Two-way messaging interactions (either SMS or MMS) helps employees easily enroll or opt in to wellness and benefits programs, driving participation and saving the company money on related healthcare expenses in the long run. A 2010 report found that wellness programs return $3.27 for every dollar spent. Additionally, since the start of 2014 companies are allowed to offer a reward or penalty of up to 50% for an employee’s health plan cost for smoking cessation programs. These wellness initiatives promote healthy behavior and reduce health care spending company-wide.

If you haven’t already started integrating mobile into your organization’s communication strategy, now is the time. Today, enterprise adoption of mobile for employee communication is growing because of its impact on improving business processes, employee satisfaction and workforce productivity. With a ubiquitous technology like mobile messaging, the upside and benefits of using mobile across the organization are hard to ignore.

Steve French is Global Vice President of Product Management and Marketing of OpenMarket.