With a diverse and geographically spread-out employee population of office workers, retail store associates and delivery drivers, Sleep Country Canada’s human resources team knew it needed to get creative to make sure all its staffers received a high-quality employee experience.

“We continuously wanted to improve and have a better way of communicating and give employees not only the experience of [having the] information [they need] but the experience of Sleep Country and Dormez-vous as a whole,” said Alex Chnaiderman, director of total rewards at Sleep Country Canada/Dormez-vous, during Benefits Canada’s 2021 Tech Insights conference in January.

Initially, the team started with an email-based strategy, but Chnaiderman said it didn’t quite hit the mark. “Associates [who] are out on the roads in their trucks making deliveries may not get [an email] or look at it until a day or two later. We want to . . . give our associates that information at the touch of their fingertips.”

The team, seeing the growing trend of mobile shopping among its customers, realized the best way to communicate with employees was through their phones and so they decided to build an application. Due to the project’s small budget, the team was unable to contract out the development of the app, so Chnaiderman learned to code and spearheaded the task of building it in-house.

The tool — available on iOS and Android — launched in October 2019, and the company held a marketing campaign until February 2020 to encourage employees to use it. “In hindsight, that was very lucky timing because as COVID started to creep up on us, and we started to close our stores, this was a great way for us to communicate with our associates.”

Currently, more than 1,300 staffers — almost all of Sleep Country’s employee base — have downloaded the app.

Today, the tool includes the associate manual and helpful information on accessing the company’s extended health plan, life and travel insurance, registered retirement savings plan and deferred profit-sharing plan, fitness subsidy, employee assistance program, internal job postings and more. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Sleep Country used push notifications and a separate section of the app for coronavirus updates.

He said employees now have a one-stop shop for this information with the app, and if they need medical information, they can access it, and it’ll direct them to the proper channel. “For an employer that has multiple benefits coverage through different organizations, this was one way for us to centralize everything and simplify access for all.”

Data pulled from the app also gave Chnaiderman’s team a window into what was of most interest to employees. On a sample week near the beginning of 2021, a total of 187 users used it to learn more about the company’s payroll schedule for the year (48 clicks), holiday calendar (17), RRSP/DPSP (16) and coronavirus policies (13). “These kinds of analytics are great to have because you’re basically getting a very quick pulse on what’s going on with your employee base.”

In the next six months, Chnaiderman said the team plans to review the app to ensure everything is as simple and easy to access as it needs to be and whether there’s more information that could be added to the platform.