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"What employees share is often more important than my updates" - How an employee app has transformed communication at Prechtl
As a member of management, Simon Mareth regularly chats with the 400 employees of Prechtl fresh food stores OHG via their employee app. Sometimes, head office no longer needs to intervene - employees find the best solution together. In our interview, the 28-year-old revealed how he brought digital communication and New Work behaviors to the shop floor.
Why did you want to digitalize internal communication in your fresh food stores - what bothered you about the previous status quo?
Information flowed almost exclusively from the head office to the shops, if at all. And let’s face it, who reads announcements? And while there was at least theoretically a feedback channel through personal exchange on site, there was no direct feedback channel to management. But what employees share on the floor is often more important than the information we distribute.
What makes communication between branch employees and head office so valuable?
The employees on the ground have a direct line to the customers. In the past, if someone from the branch wanted to reach me to pass on urgent feedback, it went something like this: find the phone, call me, and find out that I'm not at my desk. Leave a call-back request and hope to be reachable yourself. By then, the customer was already talking with our competitor two doors down.
"The employees in the branch take responsibility themselves. Without going through head office. That takes us to a new level."
Member of the Management Board at Prechtl
How does the dialogue work today?
Via groups in an employee app that our employees download onto their personal smartphones. The wine consultants, for example, communicate across branches via their own group. Among other things, it's about which variety is most in demand at the moment or about helping each other when products are running low. The employees no longer just execute, but take responsibility themselves. Without going through head office. This raises them to a new level.
And if head office is needed?
Then all employees can reach us directly via the chat function. And they also get an answer. A few hours ago, for example, an employee from the beverage department contacted me because buying the bottle by the case cost more than it did individually. A small error in the system that was quickly corrected before the market opened - and therefore before the customers could notice it. This is a giant leap compared to the past, which the employees also appreciate.
So, more information is flowing in all directions than before?
Above all, it flows faster. And only to where it's needed. Only the administrative staff, the store managers, and the trainee representatives have their own email addresses. With a noticeboard, on the other hand, we cannot control whether the information is relevant. This was already difficult before covid-19. The pandemic then acted as a catalyst for internal communication, which is visibly shifting to the employee app: the more that is distributed via the app, the more people are interested in it. I still get a lot of emails, but now around 80% are from externals.
What tipped the scales in favor of Flip over other employee apps?
I was convinced by the fact that Flip was developed specifically for frontline employees. For those who make sure that the customers have a great shopping experience. Apart from that, we can't buy Office licenses for the entire staff, especially since some colleagues are not so digitally savvy. But everyone understands Flip immediately.
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