Can staff motivation really be achieved via a mobile phone?

mobile motivationGone are the days when managers wanting to motivate their staff simply had to call a team meeting in the office anytime and everyone would be there. As a result of remote working and flexible hours it is very rare for most of the team to be in one building at the same time, certainly not without several days’ warning. So managers have had to harness instant communication technology, using email and websites to explain the benefits and maintain the momentum for their staff motivation scheme. Technology moves on and more and more of us are accessing the internet and emails via mobile phones, rather than computers. So once again, managers must reconfigure their operations to adapt to “mobile motivation”.  

Of course mobile technology brings new forms of messaging into the equation. In addition to email, intranet, websites, and text messaging, Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media provide a wealth of opportunities that should be considered.

The essential starting point to maximise the benefit of mobile technology is to design and create content specifically for the medium, and not simply adapt it. The size of screens and technology limitations can reduce the impact of many communications if they are forced into this new format.

It should not be assumed that Facebook, text and Twitter are only for the young, the growing population of ‘silver surfers’ is testament to the far reaching power of social media, particularly via mobile platforms. It’s always worth undertaking some research into your audience preferences when considering social media platforms. Where Facebook is right for one group it may be LinkedIn that gets the vote of others. Be careful, as staff may perceive an employer utilising social media as a communication channel too far and intruding in their personal time and space.

mobile inspirationThe advantage of mobile motivation is that managers can communicate with staff any time, anywhere. However, this can create its own issues. Rather than switching us on, for some, being contactable at all times can have the opposite effect and, in fact, simply turn them off.  They regard being within reach of an employer 24/7 (and being expected to respond) as an additional contributor to stress. In light of the recent prediction from telecoms company Ericsson that mobile devices will outnumber people within five years, how will this impact on our productivity and motivation levels?

Recent research carried out by Regus found that 25% of workers will use technology such as smart phones and netbooks to work whilst on holiday. But when work eats into relaxation time, what impact does this have on employee motivation levels? A balance must be struck carefully.

 

Leading by example

Birmingham City Council logoBirmingham City Council, which is Europe’s largest council, is one organisation to have taken the plunge and started texting employees. Earlier this year, 5000 text messages were sent out by the Council to volunteers at the European Athletics Indoor Championships. Sent over three days, the messages were used as both a motivational and employee recognition tool. The organisers felt that the efficiency and simplicity of sending a text message meant it was the ideal way to thank staff for their support in making the event a success.

coca cola

 

In America Coca-Cola recently piloted Coke-Text, a programme for restaurant managers to send promotional messages easily to workforces and simultaneously involve them in award schemes. Coke-Text did create a positive response within restaurants and the scheme demonstrated that text messages could improve upon methods already used and boost efficiencies.

 

An app for that

Apps provide another opportunity to exploit the use of technology in employee motivation schemes. The American app, iRecognize, enables employers to send an automated message of praise to an employee through Facebook, twitter, an e-card or a text message. Whilst the computerised delivery of the message makes it less personalised, this app’s existence certainly highlights the integral part that mobile motivation is playing in company’s employee engagement schemes.

 

A well-structured strategy

So, employers keen to integrate motivational messages via mobile into their overall employee engagement and recognition strategy, should consider a couple of potential problems that may alienate staff:

  • Motivational communication directed to an entire team may mean that staff receive irrelevant messages, which can have an adverse effect.
  • The overuse of messages can also have the opposite of the desired effect.  Employees may disregard the texts altogether and overlook key information, meaning they stop being effective.

However, one particular advantage of incorporating mobile led motivational messages within an employee engagement scheme is that it is typically considered a personal form of communication. Therefore, it may likely be seen as more relaxed or liberated, and helps the employer to connect with the employee. Rather than send ad hoc, mobile communication will be most effective if it becomes part of a company’s overall strategy. Carefully planned communication can create a positive and notable impact.

It’s clear that mobile technology will continue to increase in importance to employers and therefore mobile motivation will be significant in the future. For employees who are working longer but with less rigid hours, and using mobile technology on the go, mobile motivation can play an important role in keeping engagement levels high.

 

John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.

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