This article was updated on July 11, 2018.

Mobile apps are revolutionizing the way HR departments interact with employees. Creating a mobile app education plan for your workforce, however, can be a challenge. The educational approach should be more about encouraging adoption rather than learning. Employees must first know about the app and why they need to incorporate it into their daily work.

Education Is Not a One-Size-Fits-All Proposition

According to the Association for Talent Development, all education plans share core attributes, such as a focus on solid learning objectives and adhering to a sound instructional design process. There will, however, be critical differences while developing a mobile app education plan.

Presumably, you are developing a mobile app education plan because you launched a mobile app for a workforce that is increasingly spread out. So the last thing you want to do is fall into the trap of implementing a traditional, formal, classroom-style education plan. To satisfy the needs of a diverse and decentralized workforce, you should instead consider a multi-channel, repeatable and varied promotional approach to helping people understand the app's purpose and how to use it.

Find Champions to Spread the Word

Instead of putting the entire responsibility of delivering the education plan on your learning and development team, which isn't scalable or sustainable, create a team of champions to help spread the word. Find a group of early adopter employees who are traditionally eager to use new technologies. Bring them together, teach them the app and then empower them to spread the word throughout your organization. To motivate and aid your champions, you could even provide each of them additional incentives, such as upgraded technology or specific titles for the project (Mobile App Champion, for example).

Take a Content Marketing Approach

Instead of a traditional training approach, the learning and development team should take a content marketing approach to its mobile app education plan. According to the Content Marketing Institute, "Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action."

The learning team can distribute "valuable, relevant, and consistent content" by creating videos showing what's possible in the app, writing weekly internal blog posts on the intranet offering tips, creating 5 x 7 cards listing three tasks that can be performed in the mobile app and even hanging signs in break rooms showing pictures of employees using the mobile app with messages about the tasks they are performing and the benefits they receive as a result. The point is to create an ongoing stream of content that educates people on what's possible using the mobile app and ultimately drives employees to use it.

Get Management Teams to Lead by Example

As with any corporate program, bringing managers in early is vital to gaining traction with employees. Gather managers to explain why you're launching the app and explain their role in the education plan. Managers should be instructed to lead by example and visibly show their subordinates when and how they are using the app.

A Multi-Tiered Effort

A different approach is necessary to develop a mobile app education plan, especially for an increasingly mobile workforce. More than likely a traditional, classroom-style approach will prove ineffective, so success will hinge more on app adoption than on whether people learned new skills. For successful mobile app implementation HR leadership should focus on training managers, identifying and empowering in-house experts and rolling out an ongoing content marketing approach.

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