On January 19, 1999, Research In Motion (RIM) introduced the BlackBerry 850, a wireless, two-way pager that supported mobile email and web browsing. It changed everything about the way we work.
With this device, being out of the office no longer meant being out of touch. The ability to send and receive email while away from the desktop opened the door to a mobile workstyle that has been growing by leaps and bounds ever since. A recent study by Swiss services organization IWG found that more than two-thirds of professionals around the world now work away from the office at least once every week.
Although the mobile workstyle delivers proven efficiency and productivity benefits, it creates challenges for today’s human resources (HR) departments. Accessing important company documents, forms and services from a mobile device remains a tricky process. Disparate, disconnected applications and systems with different logins and user interfaces make it difficult for remote and mobile employees to find resources they need. In our recent HR Employee Communication Survey, 50 percent of respondents said they cannot access HR materials from their mobile devices.
Our survey found that paper documents, phone conversations and in-person meetings remain among the most common ways HR departments communicate with employees. These methods are increasingly inefficient in organizations with large numbers of remote and mobile workers. HR professionals often spend more than half their workday answering repetitive questions from employees about benefits, policies and procedures.
Mobile Is Essential
A mobile HR strategy really shouldn’t be optional any longer. Mobile communication has become second nature to most users and is easily the preferred channel for American adults under age 50. It only makes sense to enable employees to access important employment and work information at any time, from any location with any device.
A well-defined mobile strategy can relieve the administrative burden on HR staff by allowing remote employees to access personal records, submit timesheets, review benefits packages, sign up for vacation time and more. Sierra-Cedar, a Georgia-based IT service management company that has been tracking HR technology trends for nearly two decades, says the addition of mobile access increases employee self-service adoption rates by 25 percent.
Enabling access to web-based documents from a mobile device is a good start, but a truly effective mobile HR strategy requires the development of applications and processes specifically tailored for the mobile environment, including user-friendly interfaces. Beyond enabling employee access, a mobile HR strategy should also create the ability to push time-sensitive information to employees regardless of their location or device.
Mobile Boosts HR’s Value
In its 2019 HR Systems Survey, Sierra-Cedar reports that mobile HR has been adopted by 51 percent of organizations, up from just 13 percent in 2014. The firm reports that HR management and record-keeping, time and attendance, leave management, payroll, and talent acquisition are the most frequently adopted mobile HR processes.
For years, HR professionals have talked about making HR a more strategic business partner with a leading role in determining the direction of their organizations. Sierra-Cedar’s 2018 survey found that mobile-enabled HR departments are three times more likely to be viewed as a strategic business partner by both management and the workforce as compared to those with no mobile strategy. Furthermore, those with no mobile plans are twice as likely to be viewed as having no credibility within the organization.
The mobile workforce has grown dramatically since the first BlackBerry was introduced, and it is only going to keep expanding. A well-developed mobile strategy can help HR organizations efficiently support growing numbers of “deskless” employees. This will require working with all stakeholders to ensure that processes and interfaces are well-designed and mobile-friendly, and that other key back-office systems are properly integrated. A good place to start the process is consulting with a provider such as AdaptivEdge with extensive experience in HR modernization initiatives.
Written and composed by Lyndsay Soprano, Director of Marketing