How habit-forming workflows in enterprise apps increase employee productivity

Think about how you feel when you first wake up—before you’ve had your coffee. When you’re tired and groggy, even the simplest tasks seem difficult. Yet somehow we’re able to get up, shower, brush our teeth, and get ready for the day ahead. How do we manage it?


Habits are powerful things. They allow us to sleepwalk through tasks that could otherwise dominate our thoughts. Habits serve as a mental shortcut, helping us conserve our energy and get more done throughout the day. They allow our brains to “almost completely shut down,” says business author Charles Duhigg. “And this is a real advantage, because it means you have all of this mental activity you can devote to something else.”

Around 45 percent of the choices we make every day stem from habit rather than conscious decision making. At work, this can translate to a huge impact on how productive and effective we are throughout our day.. Developing the right work habits can mean the difference between mediocre performance and smashing success.

These days, technology plays a significant role in the habits we form. Social media apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat leverage the latest research on habit-forming behavior to hook users into habitual engagement with their platform. In other words, they have been built in a way that sustains our attention and keeps us coming back for more. We think we’re using these apps, but in reality, they’re training us to get into the habit of using them.

At the consumer level, habit-forming technology is about creating “addictive” experiences that boost engagement. At the enterprise level, getting employees engaged with enterprise software is a huge boon—but the benefits go far deeper than that. Habit-forming enterprise apps can actually guide employees toward work habits that enhance their job performance.                                                                                                                               

Yet most enterprises have not been able to harness the psychology of habit to nudge employees toward better productivity. Despite the frenzy to make slicker and more alluring apps, “the overwhelming majority of companies are still building very un-engaging products,” says author and behavioral designer Nir Eyal.

How habit-forming technology works

By closely studying the behavior of app users, developers can figure out which psychological buttons to push to create desirable habits. This information helps them build apps that hook employees into coming back again and again. The more often employees perform certain actions, the more ingrained the habit becomes.                                   

Companies that incorporate habit-forming technology into their workplace are leaving the rest of the business world in the dust when it comes to engagement. For instance, teams and businesses that use Sapho’s modern portal have been able to triple employee productivity by building micro apps that deliver habit-forming workflows  through a cycle of hooks designed to keep employees engaged.

Sapho Employee Experience Portal uses micro apps to break down complex business processes into modern workflows and push these tasks to employees to create a personalized experience for each individual. The workflows are then structured around a three-step habit-forming process.

Step 1: Trigger                                                                          

Every habit-forming action starts with a trigger, or some sort of cue that propels the user to return to the app. Triggers can be external (like the notification sound on your mobile device) or internal (such as a memory or emotion). The most effective apps use a combination of both.

Since negative emotions such as stress and anxiety are some of the most powerful internal triggers, the app should focus on solving a particular pain point for the user. Sapho eliminates some of the most common organizational pain points by:

  • Replacing clunky system interfaces with a modern portal, including a Facebook-like workfeed that keeps employees engaged.
  • Breaking down data silos and pulling together information in one place from across the enterprise.
  • Focusing on events (or system changes) that occur in existing systems to determine when and who to deliver information to,  so employees don’t have to go looking for it.
  • Streamlining business processes into single-purpose micro apps and eliminating unnecessary busy work.

Step 2: Action

Once triggered, users need an easy way to take action. “In the workplace, this could take the form of a user-friendly interface where workers can quickly find useful resources,” says business expert Ross Tuffee. “This is an area where apps in the consumer world have excelled: Scrolling through an Instagram or Twitter feed, for example, is a very straightforward process.”

With Sapho, all the data from the multiple systems that is needed to take action can be included in the notification, allowing employees to complete work tasks from a modern portal in a single click. This enables them to make smarter decisions while taking quick action and getting more work done on the job.

Step 3: Reward

Finally, habit-forming technology rewards users for taking action. Without a positive end result, there’s no motivation to keep coming back. Rewards can be social—such as recognition from peers—or related to personal achievement. Checking off tasks from a list is one example of this type of reward.

When employees take action within Sapho, they’re able to finish work tasks right from their mobile device—or from any device, intranet, or messenger they happen to be using at the time. By completing items from their to-do list, they can visibly see their progress throughout the workday. This helps motivate them to continue getting work done.

Habit-forming technology has the potential to give enterprises a huge competitive advantage. Sapho Employee Experience Portal helps businesses cultivate a highly engaged, highly productive workforce.

 Learn more about how our customers are using Sapho Employee Experience Portal to increase employee productivity. 


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Elle Sidell

Elle Sidell is a Digital Marketing Manager at Sapho. She joins from AVG Technologies where she worked on web content for business stakeholders. Her previous experience includes content creation, copywriting, and managing the online presence of several SaaS services.

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