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Employee engagement at the right time: Team Safe App by Appranet


Bruce Howe, CEO - Putti

Bruce Howe from Putti is back this month to share an incredible App that was developed on the fly in response to COVID-19 and putting employee communication, health and wellbeing front and Centre.

We are living in crazy and unique times. The number of emergencies, crises, disasters that businesses and we all deal with, is far too high. Now we're all living in the times of a pandemic with COVID-19.

Most good businesses talk about sustainability plans and ultimately the best businesses do follow through and document those plans. Often this is done after a crisis. In reality what happens when a crisis hits? We panic. We try to do our best by helping people and making sure that they're okay and in comfort. We then do the obvious business checks and see if we're able to go on. Business results tend to recover, and large businesses have the reserves to soldier on - but what about the people?

Purpose driven businesses need to be thinking of more permanent ways of keeping in touch with employees and ongoing personal well-being as emergencies unfold.

I was a leader of a business during a major crisis. In a previous life, I was GM for Nokia in East Africa. Living in Nairobi, Kenya, and regularly travelling through beautiful parts of Africa like Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda, and another 15 or so countries. We had a great life in Nairobi moving freely and exploring amazing parts of Africa. That was until September 21st, 2012 when the Westgate mall shootings occurred. It was a horrendous terrorist attack by 4 al Shabab extremists who walked into a mall and started to shoot it up, eventually killing 71 people and wounding another 200. It was the mall that we used as a family, most of our friends, and our teammates from Nokia. My wife had been there the day before the shooting! 

We panicked! We first selfishly thought about ourselves, friends and then my thoughts were to our team and who might have been inside. We got on WhatsApp quick smart. I sent a message to our sales manager and office manager to ask them how they were and families. Quickly followed by, had they been in touch with anybody in the team. They then jumped on WhatsApp to check-in. We had a few days of chasing each other around and we were lucky that nobody in our team was hurt.

By the time we got back to work which was a few days later, we sat down as a team to talk through all manner of stuff. It was tough. As the dust settled, we reviewed how we dealt with the situation. We were not proud of the lack of process, our inability to be in quick contact with our team and then the appropriate follow up.

There is a huge role for digital tools to help with employee engagement. I am now lucky enough to be working in a business that can respond quickly in times of crisis through the development of digital tools and apps.

We reflected and knew we had some tremendous capability in our platform Appranet, but how could we deploy it to allow businesses to deliver the information that is required during an emergency to the employee and management team? We defined what was critical in emergency times based on my past experience.

  • Delivering accountability towards the team

  • Enabling the team to call out for help and being able to maintain regular contact is essential for an employee to maintain a feeling of belonging and support by the business. 

  • Delivering real-time feedback from the team at a macro level to understand trends and exposure for risk analysis.

These are day-to-day conversations that just need to happen. They need to happen seamlessly, while tracked digitally. The business needs to know which employees are in a good space, which employees are not, and which employees are potentially in grave danger. Only then, can the business truly offer the support that is required. 

In response, we've created an app called “Team Safe” off the back of Appranet. This mobile app collates all essential information around emergencies.

Using COVID-19 as an example, it can deliver very clear guidance, policies and support information to employees.

  • The mobile app enables daily check-ins and forms relevant to escalations and reports that are required.

  • Through push notifications, the app allows for communication from head office so that a management team can communicate directives and messages of support. 

  • The “Team Safe app” brings a level of quantitative insight that gives agility for the business to make quick decisions in view of employee welfare and business performance. 

Employee engagement programs are about the idea of embracing how an employee feels, how passionate they are about the organisation and the commitment levels. During times of emergencies or crisis, the closeness of an organisation to an employee can be the difference between showing true engagement levels and demonstrate the purpose of an organisation versus well, the opposite.

Join other NZ businesses both large and small to unite and collaborate while managing your people and your business against COVID-19. What’s more, to help businesses get up and running, we are offering a 30-day free trial to get you through.

Bruce Howe is CEO of Putti. Putti Apps has built apps for leading international brands including ASOS, Marks & Spencer, Aéropostale and Air Europa. Locally, they are known for NZ Herald, Wendy’s Hamburgers,, Neighbourly and many more.

Drop Bruce a line, or visit

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