05 June 2019
Johannesburg - We leave home in the morning and open an app to book a taxi. On our commute, we open other apps to check e-mails, respond to messages, see what our friends are up to, and maybe read a book. At lunch time, we order food – again, through an app.
Apps help us to manage our lives and we’re increasingly demanding the same simple experience in the workplace. While most businesses are moving with the times by providing access to company e-mail and meeting systems via smartphones apps, the human resources (HR) function has been slow to evolve and remains buried under multiple systems and processes.
This is according to Michelle Gomes, HR Executive at HR Artis, who adds that businesses need to digitise their HR functions if they want to attract young talent and keep their workforce engaged.
The mobile workforce is growing rapidly:
• 91% of corporate employees use at least one mobile app;
• 71% of employees spend over two hours a week accessing company information on their mobiles;
• The average mobile worker works an additional 240 hours a year than the general population; and
• 53% of executives said apps improve business processes and increase productivity.
“The growing mobile workforce brings challenges and opportunities to the workplace,” says Gomes. “On the one hand, technology enables collaboration across teams and borders. People can better manage their time, and work when they’re most productive, helping them to achieve work-life balance. On the other hand, managing a dispersed workforce that’s not bound to office hours or a single location is tricky.”
She says the current – and outdated – state of HR management is unnecessarily complex. “People still have to log in to different systems to apply for leave, submit expense reports, capture their goals, plan their career development, and manage their personal information. Often, these systems can only be accessed on-premises or via a VPN, which can be slow and frustrating, and negatively impacts the employee experience.”
Businesses have to get better at managing mobile, untethered workforces, who demand and expect app-like, instant gratification experiences for everything, and are bringing consumer habits into the workplace. The app economy has created a self-service mindset, where people want to be able to help themselves and are less inclined to ask for assistance unless absolutely necessary.
An HR and payroll app that integrates all HR tasks and capabilities changes the dynamics of teamwork and engagement, says Gomes.
“There’s an app for everything else in our lives, so why shouldn’t we be able to apply for and monitor leave, get more information about our team members, plan our career development, and download payslips and other documents from a single interface? By putting responsibility for their own personal development into employees’ hands, they’re more likely to take ownership of the process, in terms of setting their own goals and identifying skills they want to develop.”
She says such an app should support three different levels of users – employees, managers, and HR staff.
“In just a few clicks and swipes, managers should be able to track productivity, training, attendance, and time-sheets; approve or reject expense reports; manage succession plans and performance reviews; and access the team’s information, like work history, birthdays, and contact details.
“The HR team should be able to push policy and procedure to the entire workforce in real-time. And, when it comes to recruitment, HR teams need an overview of what skills the business currently has and where the gaps are, making it easier to find the right candidates and knowing which existing employees are ready to be upskilled,” says Gomes.
Having access to all employee information in one place also simplifies processes like auditing, employment equity planning, and document workflow and controls. With many of these functions automated, HR teams have more time to focus on creating more engaged, productive teams with clear development paths that are aligned with the company’s goals.
Highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability. Factors that contribute to high engagement include providing employees with clear expectations and the tools and support to do their best work; and 89% of HR leaders agree that ongoing peer feedback and check-ins are key for successful outcomes.
People expect more from businesses these days, especially HR, says Gomes. Technology and the rising app-as-a-service industry can empower HR teams to meet those expectations, which improves employee loyalty and retention.
“Employee self-service technology, like apps, can drive engagement by giving staff more control over their personal data and providing easy access to critical information, like company policies. These solutions change the relationship between employees and employers because it gives employees more autonomy while giving employers greater control over their HR processes.
They can also be used to gather employee feedback on issues and opportunities, giving employees a sense that their voices are being heard and that their contribution is considered and valued.
Importantly, says Gomes, these systems must be intuitive and easy to use to ensure widespread adoption. The more convenient the system, the more likely employees will use it, both in and out of the office.