Employee Apps: Communicating Positive Employee Relations

In today’s tech-savvy workforce, businesses are utilizing the power of apps to accomplish just about anything – from general increased productivity at work to job-specific help like apps for human resources professionals. Additionally, many employers are using an employee app as a messenger for positive employee relations. Well-designed content and information can be delivered regularly to supervisors and employees, and ensure no one is left out of the communication loop. Critical training and a wealth of information are regularly transmitted, all of which helps your organization stay union-free.

The value of positive employee relations (PERS) is without question. The value of any positive relationship is understood because good relations make people happier in general, in addition to being more productive in the workplace. A happy and engaged workforce is significantly less prone to starting a union organizing campaign. The biggest change in employee relationship management (ERM) over the last decade has been introducing technology used to build, strengthen and grow positive relationships between management and employees and between coworkers. 

With powerful and professional video, web and eLearning, Projections has helped multiple organizations in terms of communication between leaders and their teams. We understand the importance of keeping your employees engaged and the significant impact that engagement and retention have on your bottom line. We’ll talk about why using internal apps for your employees can be an excellent way to stay in communication with team members. Whether your team is checking emails on a regular basis, or are made up of deskless workers, or a combination of both, you need an effective communication strategy!

Foundation of Employee App Content Stay Union-Free

There are common reasons employees decide to start organizing, and many of the reasons have been in existence for decades. It’s agreed some employees decide to join a labor union for reasons or conditions you can’t control. The most recent situation that comes to mind is COVID-19. PPE equipment was in short supply, and businesses had difficulty providing enough to keep employees safe, and the government lockdown forced layoffs.

However, a vast majority of the reasons or conditions leading to union organizing can be controlled by managers and supervisors through employee relationship management. The reasons your employees will be vulnerable to labor union promises include senior managers, leaders, and supervisors failing to:

  • Listen to employees, understand their concerns, and collect their ideas before making decisions (employee voice)
  • Solicit and give employee feedback on workplace concerns and problems
  • Motivate employees to work toward a common goal
  • Inform employees of the strong reasons to stay union-free
  • Inform employees of the truth about union behaviors
  • Equally include all employees in any way
  • Treat employees with respect and capable of making good decisions
  • Communicate what employees need to know about company policies, procedures, values, and company perspective on unionization
  • Develop a system for becoming aware of employee concerns before they become issues driving them to labor unions

Addressing these types of leadership communication issues is key to building a UnionProof culture. Companies that decide to implement an employee app are doing so because a well-designed app can address these supervisor-controlled issues that make the company more vulnerable to a union organizing campaign.

Employee Apps to Communicate

Developing a Great Employee App

An employee mobile app can cover a lot of territory. Should you decide to implement this digital communication resource, it’s important to create engaging content able that can eliminate many of the typical leadership communication gaps. It’s the way you strengthen employee engagement, positive employee relations, and the positive organizational culture all at the same time!

An employee app is a great equalizer because it enables you to reach all managers and supervisors, and workers to deliver consistent information and insights. Consistency in communication is a foundational principle of staying union-free. Positive leadership communication skills apply to all leaders, and the union-free message applies to all workers. Developing positive employee relations will keep you union-free, so think of the employee app as a link between the messages and the people who need to hear the messages. 

Four pillars of positive employee relations will underlie employee app content for developing positive employee relations. They are open communication, showing recognition, offering constant and consistent feedback, and investing in employees. Investing in training people at every organizational level is critical to embedding values and positivity in the workplace culture, which, once again, helps you stay union-free. 

So what is great employee app content? Following are the basic principles of designing app content get the most value:

  • Provides top-down employee management and actionable insights able to improve the employee experience
  • Facilitates two-way communication for purposes of idea sharing and feedback
  • It contains everything important to communicate in one app, so employees don’t have to shift between apps to get desired information
  • Accessible by employees who are on-premises, remote, and deskless workers

Developing Great Employee App Content

The app can serve supervisors and employees, though the content will not be identical. Gallup tracks employee engagement levels in the US workforce. The engagement level as of April-May 2020 was 38 percent which fell to 31 percent June 1-14, 2020. The historic drop in engagement wasn’t due to COVID-19. It was due to unclear communication between leaders and managers, and employees about things like plans moving forward or how the business was responding to racial injustice. Clarity is crucial, says Gallup. 

Supervisor App Content

The employee app content for supervisors will include information that keeps supervisors informed. Morela Hernandez, Jasmien Khattab, and Charlotte Hoopes discussed why good leaders are failing. One of them is that people who progress along the leadership path are less likely to receive “role-specific and level-appropriate training and development.” 

Focusing on leadership training and developing positive employee relations, app content should be intentional and include, but not limited to, staying union-free. The app can include content like the following:

  • Training on leadership skills on topics like effective listening, receiving and giving feedback, motivating employees, creating a positive culture, etc.
  • Training videos on TIPS and FOE rules, the National Labor Relations Act, employer rights, responding to the FAQ on the dark website, etc. 
  • Infographics showing the right path for handling employee grievances, union organizing campaign steps, etc. 
  • Analytics, i.e., employee turnover rates, employee usage of apps, employees using the union campaign website link, etc. 
  • Training videos covering a variety of topics, including corporate policies and procedures, company perspective on unions, etc.
  • Training on writing positive and informative posts for giving employees recognition, including the need for posting regularity
  • Push notifications from executive level and senior management
  • Links to reference materials, like corporate policies and other corporate-level documents

The supervisor app content becomes a leadership coaching tool on labor relations.

Employee App Content

What do your employees need to know to feel included, engaged, and supported by management? That’s the basic question driving employee app content. The app content may include:

  • Videos of senior management sharing information, perspectives, and praise
  • Access to training courses on company policies, including Human Resources policies and procedures
  • Link to the company policy on unions, union-focused website, and other relevant union-related information
  • Link to employee surveys
  • Training videos on company benefits, policies, and procedures 
  • Regular leadership posts reinforcing the open-door policy, company mission, values, and goals
  • Posts celebrating employee achievements and teams stories
  • Push notifications communicating new processes with relevant links to documents
  • Push notifications of corporate news or health and safety tips
  • App channel like chat enabling collaborative opportunities where employees can give and receive praise (feedback), ask each other questions, and share insights and knowledge
  • Interactive bulletin board
  • Create an event option enabling organizing or joining a company event to leverage the power of social
  • Create an employee idea hub that enables feedback via comments on company initiatives, brainstorming, evaluating ideas, etc. 
  • “Ask the company” channel, which could include access to the FAQ webpage on the union-focused dark website where employees ask anonymous questions
  • Link to employee onboarding program and follow-up

Keeping employees happy is a way to stay union-free, and the key to happiness is developing positive employee relations within a positive workplace culture. Communication flowing in all directions is the key. 

positive employee relations strategy

Common App Media Tools

There are so many ways to create employee app content. One suggestion is to first scan the options for various ways to communicate information to employees (leadership and staff) and decide which ones will work best for your organization. Following is a laundry list to get you going.

The app should be straightforward, easy to understand, and concisely present new information every day. An employee app can be an addition to an intranet or contain links to the intranet. Apps are only as good as the people who use them, and you want everyone using your organizational app. When introducing your app content, find some supervisor and staff champions at all levels who promote its use as an internal communication tool.  

Staying Union Free Requires Leadership Comprehensive Communication

Notice the previous discussion doesn’t just focus on staying union-free. That’s because keeping unions out involves so much more than simply talking about unions. You can’t separate staying union free from developing positive employee relations through great communication. Employee engagement requires comprehensive leadership communication about the business, concerns to employees, knowledge sharing, and culture. 

You can design an app that utilizes a set of tools best for our organization but always remember everything included in the content is intended to strengthen positive employee relations. Projections, Inc. can help by calling upon our professional expertise in developing employee engagement content in various forms, which in turn keeps you union-free. 

About the Author Walter Orechwa

Walter is IRI's Director of Digital Solutions and founder of UnionProof & A Better Leader. As the creator of Union Proof Certification, Walter provides expert advice, highly effective employee communication resources and ongoing learning opportunities for Human Resources and Labor Relations professionals.