The return to work after Covid - 10 ways employee apps can help - Engage Colleague

The return to work after Covid – 10 ways employee apps can help

22 Apr 2021, posted in

It’s Spring 2021 and with the country unlocking and restrictions easing, there’s more talk and more planning about the return to work after Covid. Bringing back staff from furlough. Encouraging one-year veterans of home-working to return to the office. Negotiating a new, hybrid working style of office and home. Meeting new colleagues for the first time in person. Or for others, continuing on the production floor, warehouse or cab like they have been these past 12 months but knowing it’s still all a bit different.

For HR leaders, it’s another phase that has to be managed adroitly; there’s pressure on communications and internal operations and support frameworks, and on employees too. This last lockdown has really pushed people to their limits, with plenty of anecdotal reports of digital fatigue, fraying tempers and time-out requests.

Employee or workforce apps might seem to be only adding to the digital noise but used sensitively and sensibly, they could be invaluable in safely navigating the return – and nurturing your people.

Here are just ten practical ways they can help:

  1. Single source of truth – After such a period of flux and stress it’s essential that everyone has one ‘go-to’ place which they can rely on for the latest news, information, policies, awareness videos, particularly in an evolving situation and where many new starters may just be getting up to speed etc.
  2. AI-driven personal feed– Everyone can stay on top in real-time of the information that applies to them, and be made instantly aware of new resources and help coming on board. Organisations will take the ‘restart’ as an opportunity to get the corporate narrative going again and Facebook-style feeds can ensure good penetration of that messaging.
  3. Push notifications – There’s going to be an on-going need to alert people to significant changes or time-sensitive developments. This can happen at a very granular level, allowing precise targeting of individuals and teams.
  4. Pinned posts – Don’t let the really important news drop down someone’s feed. Critical updates and advisory notices can be pinned and kept top of mind.
  5. Support schemes – Apps are an obvious mechanism for surfacing employee help initiatives, such as cycle to work schemes or flexible season tickets. Transactional or self-service elements eg in-app applications add a welcome element of convenience and efficiency.
  6. Staff wellbeing – From health management to confidential reporting, a good employee app should be one of your first lines of defence for protecting your staff. Specialist resources, dedicated helplines, confidential advice, wellness blogs and vlogs, mood checkers, there’s a strong mix of tools available.
  7. Scheduling and shift planning – Things could be weird for a while as we all adjust. You might have to book a desk or a car parking spot. Or manage complex shift and/or red/blue team requirements. So self-service scheduling tools, or rota systems integrated with one-to-one and group messaging, could be much in demand
  8. Secure messaging– With more ‘fluidity’ between work and office, potentially staggered work patterns, newer – or fewer – team members, quick, easy and effective communication and collaboration will be a ‘must have’.  But insist upon the safeguards of enterprise-grade security so that information stays safely within the corporate firewall – and well away from WhatsApp.
  9. Re-induction– You can provide a range of videos, guides, operating manuals and layouts/maps for staff to acquaint themselves with how their workplace is having to operate within government guidelines, how it will look physically, traffic flows, hygiene protocols, handling routines etc.
  10. Onboarding – Inducting new team members is the same challenge it’s always been, but with the extra complications of potentially less time spent in the physical workplace and more distance from colleagues, so denying starters that ‘osmosis’ effect where they can soak up the culture and style of the business. Employee apps can easily be recast as digital training or elearning solutions, offering everything from personalised videos and one-tap access to key materials to easy chats with new colleagues and rapid feedback mechanisms.