How to go about implementing a benefits app

84% of UK adults have a smartphone and, collectively, UK citizens look at their smartphones over a billion times a day. We know employees are using their smartphones at work, checking them on average once an hour and engaging with apps for over three hours a day. So of course launching a new benefits app will be a breeze, right? 

Regardless of how great your app is, it's very hard to get people to change the way they've been doing things for years. Don't assume that all you'll have to do is send out an email extolling the amazing features of the app and that staff will be metaphorically queuing up to download it. Even if the benefits of the app are irresistible, it looks fantastic and its fun and easy to use, expect some resistance and apathy.

A critical element of successful adoption is the on-boarding programme. After choosing your app, the launch, training and follow up are equally as important to the success of take-up. With a strategic and well planned on-boarding programme, we've achieved 80% adoption rates of our well-being app in the first two weeks. Here are some key steps to successful on-boarding.

Great user experience

Of course, your app has to be excellent; user friendly and providing a good user experience - functional, reliable, usable, convenient, pleasurable and meaningful. If it's not you won't get repeat use.

Understand your audience

Different employees will adopt new technology at different speeds and your app is no exception. Understand your audience types and plan your roll out to cater for their needs. 

We see broadly three types: 

1) Early adopters - these won't need much convincing as they are already prolific users of their phone and apps. They are likely to be Millennials and Generation Y, but you will find them across all of your generations. Use this group to your advantage in your on-boarding.

2) What's in it for me group - this is usually the largest group that needs convincing. They're pretty comfortable with the way they access their benefits currently and really need to be sold and shown the value of the app and how it will personally benefit them. 

3) Johnny-come-latelies - it's often difficult to get any uptake from this group unless they are forced into it by not being to access their benefits any other way. As well as understanding the benefits of the app, this group will need ongoing hand holding and support.

Create a roll out plan

Once you've established your audience, you can create a roll out plan, setting dates, deployment tiers and tactics, targeting specific groups individually.

Engage early adopters and influencers

In a large organisation it's better to roll out your app to those employees who will be enthusiastic about it such as the early adopters. Importantly, you must also get your influencers, managers and leaders on-board early, so staff see senior take-up. Use your early adopters and influencers as your app evangelists, promoting its benefits and offering support to others in using it. Competitions and incentives amongst managers to get sign up from their teams are tactics that work well.

Show & tell

It's necessary to show as well as tell to emphasise the value and benefits of the app. Create a powerful sales pitch as you would for a consumer product and set up events and face to face training activities at which staff can use the app.

Celebrate adoption early

Shout about your adoption figures and share positive feedback and good news stories around the app as quickly and as widely as you can to create a FOMO effect - fear of missing out. This will help motivate those not yet on board to sign up. 


A big build up and launch is very helpful to raise awareness and create some excitement, but regular follow-up is just as important. Unless the app is integral to do their daily job, people will just carry on as normal, so continuous promotion, persuasion and training is always necessary. Set milestones for adoption and gather employee feedback so you can measure and adjust your on-boarding programme.

Choose a customer focused provider

Choose a partner who will take an active role in the on-boarding programme and provide continued support to ensure maximum engagement though an on-going communications and training strategy.

An effective on-boarding programme and follow-up will be the key driver in successful adoption of your app. The greater the employee adoption, the greater the ROI, so it's worth the investment.

James Hewitt is head of adoption and engagement at LifeWorks.

This article was provided by LifeWorks. 

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