Female industrial worker using cell phone while sitting on stack of wooden planks

Guest post by Joe Loya.

Communication is changing rapidly. Technology has transformed not only how we consume and absorb information, but it has also transformed what captures our attention, keeps us interested, and motivates us to take action.

In their recent book, The Mobile Mind Shift, authors Ted Schadler, Josh Bernoff, and Julie Ask of Forrester Research describe the mobile mind shift as “the expectation that I can get what I want in my immediate context and moments of need.” They go on to say that what has “shifted” is in fact our behavior.

It’s hard to believe it has been only eight years since the iPhone was first released in June 2007. And today, over a billion people worldwide have made the iPhone and its competitors our “constant companion.” Sure, we use our mobile phones to make phone calls (at least sometimes), but how often do you find yourself checking your email or Facebook or Pinterest or [fill in your favorite app]? If you need a quick answer, how often do you ask Siri or Google?

Smartphones have become a basic and essential tool for daily living. They have conditioned us not only to do lots of things with our phone. They have also caused us to expect new things.

And let’s face it; it is not just millennials (and younger) who are phone dependent. We all are. As of October 2014, Pew Research center reported that 64% of American adults own a smartphone of some kind; that’s up 35% from 2011.[1] And 46% of Mobile Mind Shiftsmartphone owners say their smartphone is something “they couldn’t live without.”[2]

So what does all this mean for how we communicate today with our employees? In today’s “information overloaded” world, where attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to get their employees’ attention.

Tom Haak of the HR Trend Institute recently wrote about “12 emerging internal communications trends”[3] that can enable internal communications to increase their impact. Mobile is in the top three trends. Tom makes the point that while mobile can hardly be considered an emerging trend (and that point is certainly reinforced by the folks at Forrester Research), “it is remarkable how slowly internal communications is using this trend to increase impact.”

So if you are looking to accelerate your communications, here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Think “omni-channel” – In marketing terms, this is a reflection of the choice that consumers
    have today in how they engage a brand. Consumers can now engage with a company in a physical store, through a catalog, on their computer, tablet, or phone, or through social media. The bottom line is that the customer chooses how she wants to connect with the brand and it is often through multiple channels. Employee communication should be no different.
  • Make it Easy to Connect – Users want a simple, easy, personalized, and intuitive experience — outside the firewall — on any device and available 24/7/365. Many employers are still using email and intranet-based web content for employees with online access. And they’re combining that with sending printed newsletters and other materials to homes to reach those without regular access, as well as family members. Most companies are still reluctant to use employees’ personal cell phones as a communication channel. Mobile technology has bridged what we used to call “the digital divide. It provides a way to reach audiences that you couldn’t reach before, through text notifications and links to phone-friendly responsive web content, engaging video, and other useful content.
  • Be visual – Employees (as consumers of information) don’t take the time to read and absorb lengthy brochures. Face-to-face meetings can be expensive and ineffective. And most of us process information based on what we see. Humans are visual creatures. Communication technology today makes it easier than ever to engage our audience with pictures, infographics, animated video, and touch-see and engagescreen user-friendly navigation.

The time is now. Mobile is no longer “emerging.” Employees expect to communicate with and interact with HR using a consumer-grade mobile experience. Use this trend to increase the impact of your workforce engagement by making mobile an effective part of your communication strategy.


Joe Loya is a colleague with Aspendale and also principal of Payne Road, LLC. Joe’s areas of expertise include HR and Workforce Communication Strategy, as well as Technology & Digital Media.

[1] http://pewrsr.ch/1NF3kbK
[2] http://pewrsr.ch/1BMihQT

[3] http://hrtrendinstitute.com/2014/12/13/12-emerging-internal-communications-trends/

Jesse Lahey, SPHR, is the host of the podcasts Engaging Leader and Workforce Health Engagement, and he is CEO (chief engagement officer) of Aspendale Communications. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. If you know anyone who would benefit from this information, please share it!