The New Rules of Engagement: How Tech is Energizing Employee Communication

Millennials—and their technology—are changing the workplace in fundamental ways. This coming generation is re-shaping the workforce and the workplace—and it is clear that business management must adapt.

Millennials expect to work for organizations that provide work and working conditions that reflect the generation’s interest in community and personal wellbeing. They also expect employees and management to engage in genuine, two-way dialogue. Too many organizations are still giving lip service to their role in improving social or environmental conditions or workplace health. Employers who are broadcasting generic messages through email, posters in the lunchroom, and productivity-draining meetings are missing the point.

There are, however, both messages and tools that can help private and public employers get with a program more suited to attract and retain their employees’ energy and talents.

One of the most promising technologies for revamping employee communication is mobile. Check out the numbers: only 13% of employees interact with their company intranet daily, and employees send and receive a mind-numbing 121 emails a day, many of which (particularly ones relating to corporate programs) go unread and without response. Conversely, text messages are read 90% of text messages are read within three minutes of receipt.

As more companies adopt mobile for engaging employees in their corporate programs, some of the “new rules of engagement” for mobile communication have emerged:


Short and sweet is the key for reaching the modern worker, raised on to-the-point social media messages.

Mobile messages should be one or two sentences (say, 140 characters) designed to get the reader’s attention and understanding at a glance.


No one wants to be talked at. Employers need to approve themselves comfortable with a two-way dialogue? While few employees will respond (or even read) a long all-hands email blast, mobile allows employees to quickly stay up to date with company programs, and often share their feedback/opinions with management. This can take the form of a multiple choice quiz question to evaluate understanding or a poll of how many employees would be interested in a volunteer opportunity or wellness offering. With the simple touch of the screen, employees feel they’ve had a say and managers’ decisions are empowered by having the pulse of the organization.

Gamification – another form of active engagement and two-way communication – can yield impressive improvements in corporate program uptake. Deloitte achieved a 30% increase in regular weekly users of its training platform through the use of an gamified incentive program and public leaderboards.


Unlike traditional methods of communication that blanket all employees at random times, mobile allows for message and delivery time customization. With mobile, specific messages can be sent at the exact time employees need to see them.

For example, for a group of workers who start their shift at 9 am, sending a mobile message regarding mission critical safety information five minutes before the start of a shift exponentially increases knowledge rates around a particular activity.


Successful enterprise app developers take a page from popular consumer loyalty rewards programs, which strive to uncover a user profile, and then send subsequent target messages that are particularly relevant to the consumer. Similarly, mobile can be used to easily target staff by demographics or corporate divisions and deliver customized messages.

For example, if the warehouse division of a company continues to not engage with a certain message (as identified by poor scores on quiz questions or a lack of response to a request for feedback), that message can be altered to achieve better understanding, engagement, and participation. This real-time feedback and analytics can ensure programs can be evaluated and modified on the fly to achieve success. 

Mobile can also intelligently segment messaging for employees and direct opportunities to those that have expressed interest in a particular type of message or program (e.g., volunteering for a tree planting outing).


Selecting the right tool to educate and engage employees (and through a channel that allows for quantifiable metrics to prove engagement) is a challenge many companies face. Looking at today’s trends in workplace culture and communication provides some direction. For example, a survey of 300 heads of employee engagement from major companies identified several trends that are transforming the workplace environment, such as individualism, digitization, technological convergence, demographic change.

With the almost universal penetration of mobile devices amongst Millennials, mobile may soon be an essential technology in developing a one-on-one, firm-to-employee relationship. And, as most managers know, this relationship is the key to employee productivity, retention, happiness, and engagement. Not bad for something that fits in the palm of your hand.

Caitlin Carpenter works in Marketing and Communications at Nudge Rewards.