Embracing the Mobile HR App Trend; Stop Telling Employees to Get Off Their Phones!

It’s 10am and for the past half hour you’ve watched Bob Bradley pick up his phone six times—now seven—and even though you know he’s doing stuff, you can’t help but think, ‘is he even working?!

Ryan Jensen, HR transformation consultant and Veran Performance writes about the role of mobile in workplace productivity and learning for myHRcareers HR blog.

We all have thoughts like this from time to time, even when it comes to ourselves. When we’re at work, we refrain from picking up our phones because we don’t want others to think we’re bored, unproductive, or unable to focus on work. But when you think about how much we use our phones and what we use them for, for example—communicating with friends and family, managing our financials, reading the news, etc., it only makes sense for ‘work’ (or whatever it is that you do) to be on your phone as well.

New research suggests the average amount of time one spends on their smartphone is 5 hours per day and the technology is only getting more and more robust. So whether you like it or not, mobile devices are here to stay and it’s in our best interests, as HR leaders, to work with this trend, rather than against it. It’s time to embrace work related apps, get our people to use them, and abolish the stereotype that being on your phone means you’re not working.

Self-service + mobile app = the future

The introduction of employee self-service (ESS) and manager self-service (MSS) technology has been game changing in the way it helps us work quickly and efficiently—for example, transactions with middlemen can be completed quickly without them, and we have access to information that used to be buried or out of reach. Now, when we combine ESS/MSS with mobile platforms, we open a whole new way of working.

The capabilities of self-service become even more useful when enabled on a mobile device you can take anywhere with you. For example, if you’re a manger and you’ve got to write a performance review or approve an address change, you don’t need to be physically at your office—you could do it from home, on the train, in between meetings, anywhere!

Cloud HR tech providers have developed numerous applications to promote more productive ways of HR working, but the current trend is coding apps on mobile platforms first, rather than for desktops or PC’s. This is a brilliant move, seeing as it improves accessibility for all parties, and it makes our lives easier.

Businesses are moving to mobile platforms and we need to embrace this trend. Phones are just a part of our lives now, and to be honest, if we’re going to be on our phones anyway, let’s at least give our people an app so that they can do HR related things! Use the technology that’s already in our hands rather than build on an outdated stereotype. Self-service mobile apps are the frontier of HR and we need to get on board and understand that this is the path of least resistance to interacting with information.

How mobile HR apps makes your life easier

Have I sold it to you yet?  In case you forgot, here’s how mobile HR apps make your life easier.

1. It’s easier to do standard HR stuff

Mobile self-service allows you to do typical HR activities such as performance reviews, learning and development courses, requesting and approving time off (time and attendance), expenses on the go, ability to change bank or address details, and muchmore.

For example, with the proper app, a manager could do a quarterly check / performance review with an employee with both their phones—everything could be recorded right then and there, nothing would have to be written down, both people could look at previously types notes pertaining to the review, and if something like a performance rating needs to be agreed upon, both could swipe the ‘yes, I approve’ button on their own device.

Another example, if you’re doing an L&D course that requires you to watch videos or go through a slide pack, you could do that on the go or even lying in bed!

2. Mobile HR apps drive engagement levels

Mobile HR apps can help drive engagement in a number of ways. One of the benefits is that you’re able to incorporate gamification to apps that can make something that was once seen as boring, fun.

At my old company we had a health and wellness initiative where we were all given pedometers with radio signals and if you averaged 10,000 steps a day for the quarter, you’d get an AmEx gift card at the end. This really encouraged walking meetings, exercising to and from work, and using breaks to walk around—I’m a testament to its success! It would be very easy for this program to be implemented via mobile app to engage employees in efforts to promote fitness.

3. It’s easier to keep in touch with everyone

We already use mobile devices to keep in touch with friends and family, therefore, it only makes sense that we use them to keep in touch with our co-workers! Self-service apps that allow you to communicate better with your colleagues (not email!) can expedite working and bring people closer together. This could be facilitated by a company intranet accessible on mobile devices.

HR mobile apps could also deliver company news via mobile newsletters or the sharing of interesting news articles.

4. There’s potential to collect more data

Companies are always trying to get data, and with mobile HR apps, it’s easier to collect data on your employees to find new and better ways of working. Engagement surveys are very useful in this regard and by putting surveys on an app and making it fun or incentivising, you’re able to collect more responses. This goes past mandatory engagement reviews, and can help you glean greater insights into the business.

5. It seamlessly integrates into your life in a non-invasive way

Employees already use their phones all the time; this type of tech is non-invasive and integrates seamlessly into employees lives. There’s less of a learning curve because the UI is optimised for UX, and the pickup rate is greater. The benefit here is that there’s less training in order to understand what you need to do and takes advantage of something that is already omnipresent in your life.

Final thoughts

Mobile is here to stay, whether you like it or not. It’s time we embrace work-related apps and harness the ability to make interacting with HR related activities for employees and managers easier and more efficient. The power is literally already in your employees’ hands—let’s start using it.