Mobile Solutions: A Technology Imperative for Today’s HR Department

By Steve Roth

If you were to walk into any office today, you would likely see a majority of employees using smartphones and mobile devices to conduct work-related activity — one would hope it was work-related anyway. The role of the smartphone and other mobile devices has changed dramatically in recent years.

In the past, workers saw the occasional executive wielding a Blackberry—a “nice-to-have” perk to review and respond to emails on-the-go. Fast forward to today: Mobile devices are now a critical asset for a significant number of employees and managers to support a variety of tasks throughout their workday. The reliance upon these devices has resulted in tremendous changes in how companies leverage enterprise mobile functionality to conduct tasks and, more importantly, communicate with their workforces.

Investments in mobile and wireless solutions have significantly enhanced operational efficiencies, impacting all disciplines from supply chain management to service and sales execution. Human Resources (HR) also has a lot to gain from emerging mobile functionality. At its core, HR works to improve employee productivity, peace of mind and communications. With an ability to deliver information in real time on highly portable hardware, mobile is becoming the platform that best aligns with HR’s core mission. HR managers, IT departments and top executives alike understand the need for effective mobile HR solutions to help their workforce increase productivity and meet business objectives.

Mobile Expectations

What many HR professionals are realizing is that the workforce is very motivated to take advantage of these new mobile solutions. In a recent ADP Research Institute study on mobile HR application usage behavior, 37 percent of registered mobile users readily turned to their mobile HR solution to access their pay information. This equates to a 60-percent higher utilization rate than those who only relied on stationary web access to view this information. It is not surprising mobile is a sought after platform.

HR departments are well aware of the changes taking place within the ranks of their multi-generational workforces. No longer are employees spending a majority of their business day inside the confines of the corporate office building. Now, workers have flexible schedules, splitting their work hours between their home and the office to create better work-life balance and meet personal obligations. With a new generation of employees who were raised on mobile technology now entering the workforce, the expectations for mobile functionality have never been greater. IT departments are scrambling to ensure these workers have fully functioning mobile access in real-time. Millennials, in particular, are the driving force that is encouraging companies to re-evaluate how they utilize mobile to drive business. This is a major opportunity for HR departments to enhance their own functionalities and create greater value for the broader organization.

Empowering Employees

Despite recent changes in the pace of business transactions and operations, many HR departments continue to be hindered by the administrative burden of paperwork and miscellaneous employee requests. The mobile platform can actually help offset the majority of clerical HR tasks and save precious time. Many organizations are already utilizing SaaS platforms to generate greater efficiencies within HR management, accessing these applications on desktops and laptops. With so many more employees conducting work in wireless environments, it is more critical than ever before to have the same functionality and access to this HR information on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. With easier access and ability to view this information in real time, more employees will be empowered to find what they need on their own without involving HR personnel to expedite the tasks.

So, what does this mean? Instead of employees calling their HR departments to request a time run for their teams, they can view important personal and/or company information instantly, enabling HR staff to tackle initiatives that impact the broader business.

Improved Management

Recruitment and talent management are two additional areas where HR professionals can unlock even greater value. More prospective employees are viewing and applying for jobs at companies on their mobile device. While mobile devices will never be a recommended tool for resume entry, they can certainly be a tool that offers a seamless path to view, apply, submit and monitor a job posting. Once an employee is hired, the process of onboarding and managing the progression of that individual has long been a paperwork intensive task. Using a mobile solution and device to acclimate a new employee quickly, submit performance reviews or analyze time and attendance, however, is a much more efficient method that can open the door for effective data aggregation and further workforce analysis.

These examples reveal a clear benefit: HR departments today have the opportunity to leverage mobile to advance and change the perception of their function. Rather than serve as the helpful administrator enrolling employees in benefits, HR personnel can elevate themselves to the role of strategist and counselor, and collaborate with executives from other functional areas to make more high-impact HR and holistic human capital management decisions.

Challenges to Implementation

Employers can achieve many benefits by implementing mobile HR solutions, but there are concerns associated with these solutions that need to be addressed. Security, for example, remains an important consideration among companies as they assess software vulnerabilities that could impact their operations, employees and customers. Many mobile solutions developed today, however, can employ the same enterprise security infrastructures as web-based applications. These solutions shouldn’t be considered separate applications with subpar security standards.

Another common misperception is that HR departments will be bogged down even more with employee requests to troubleshoot issues following the deployment of a mobile HR solution. When ADP implemented a mobile HR solution for its own employees, less than one percent of incoming calls to HR personnel and IT service staff involved issues with the mobile solution.

To truly harness the value of mobile, HR departments should always seek out employee feedback to ensure the solutions are aligned with employees’ most critical needs. If they don’t, they may pursue a solution that only provides minimal functionality and receives little use by employees—ultimately offering little value to the company.

Aligning Needs

Every company should evaluate how to best utilize mobile HR solutions based on how the needs of their workforce align with streamlining business processes for greater effectiveness. There’s no doubting the ability of these solutions can become as integral as cloud, big data and social media to help businesses achieve broader organizational objectives. If utilized to its full potential, mobile can enable HR departments to achieve their ultimate goal of becoming a true partner on business strategy and workforce optimization.

About the Author

Steve Roth is senior director and mobile product manager for ADP Inc., a provider of business processing and cloud-based HR solutions.