by Jeff Corbin | July 22, 2015

Having just returned from the Advanced Learning Institute’s Strategic Internal Communications conference in Boston, I wanted to reflect on what I saw, learned and experienced.

First, with more than 100 communications professionals from some of the largest companies in the world in attendance, it was clear to me that there is something interesting going on with respect to the importance that companies are now placing on their employees, engaging with them and being concerned about overall job satisfaction.  Numerous case studies were presented from companies like Walmart, Century 21 Real Estate and BJs Wholesale Club and their use of current technology like social media, mobile, messaging and collaboration tools.  There was a clear recognition among those present that companies need to adapt not only to the changes in technology currently underway, but also the needs and expectations of the Millennial generation that will make up the vast majority of the workforce in the coming years.

I had the opportunity to present on the subject of the use of mobile technology to engage with a disengaged, yet connected workforce.  And, I was joined by Leanne Budolfson, Employee Communications Manager at Cumberland Gulf Group. A few of the key points that I highlighted:

  • As we learned from theEMPLOYEEapp’s recent Mobile Trends in the Workplace survey of more than 200 U.S. based workers, to the extent employees are increasingly becoming mobile in their work, it is critical that they be able to easily access information through their smart devices. Unfortunately, the user experience of most legacy Intranets and SharePoint systems via mobile is inadequate.
  • While more than half of the respondents to the survey identified themselves as Millennials, they indicated that their employers are still stuck in the 20th Century relying on communications tools like email and not more current technologies.
  • Finally, frequency of communication is critical to employee engagement and job satisfaction. Millennials place great importance on openness in communication, involvement in the decision making process and the ability to be heard.

As part of the presentation, Leanne gave an overview of her work in employee communications at Cumberland Gulf where she talked about establishing and executing on the company’s mobile communications strategy for their over 6,500 Cumberland Farms employees.  As she mentioned, Cumberland Farms’ workforce consists of a majority of front-line employees who have limited access to company information. Recognizing that a significant percentage of their employees now have mobile devices, and to address this issue, Leanne and Cumberland Gulf are in the process of deploying a mobile solution (full disclosure: they are utilizing theEMPLOYEEapp) to connect and engage with their employees in order to make information like benefits, scheduling and company news available to their broader workforce.

My take-away from the ALI event – it was great.  The attendees were engaged, excited to network with their fellow internal communications colleagues and left inspired to get back to work to start implementing some of the great ideas they learned in Boston.

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