Article: HR on-the-go: How mobile applications help


HR on-the-go: How mobile applications help

Mobile applications allow information to be published through a mobile RSS-type feed for regular updates to employees

HR can improve workforce engagement by leveraging mobile applications


We all remember our first mobile device; the sheer anticipation of getting one made us giddy with excitement. Since then, mobile devices have come a long way, and today by allowing us to continously stay connected and become more productive, they help us by making our lives easier. The recent evolution of the tablet and smartphone device has taken this a step further by providing full functionality of a desktop or a laptop to access and edit corporate data, while on the move. And a function that can benefit tremendously from these technology innovations, is human resources. The question therefore, is no longer about “should human resources capitalize on this medium to better support workforce?” instead, the focus is on “how HR can enable this?”

The adoption of smart devices has been on a steady rise. In 2010 alone, there were more than twice as many people buying smartphones (304 million) as compared to 118 million new users signing up for Facebook. It is now just a matter of how, what and when HR will deliver functionality to these growing number of device users.

The Acceptable “Apps”

More people prefer to use applications, which do not require them to type substantially. For the 21 percent of time spent on an iPad “communicating”, they are either sending 1-2 line response to an email, or writing a 140 character tweet or a 1 liner update on Facebook.

Mostly, use of these apps often takes place when people are already doing a hundred other things at the same time. Therefore, applications which meet the profile mentioned below would be best suited for mobile apps:

No need for a portal: Most HR applications focus on connecting transactions, analytics and information to some sort of role-based HR portal. However, this is addressed on a smartphone, as the “desktop” acts like a portal for workers. Among other features, the icons on the screen replace the links on the portal and some smartphones also allow for widgets on the desktop and content, such as alerts that can be pushed to the device.

Mobile application vs. mobile browser: The easiest and fastest way to get applications mobile is to make the existing ones accessible through a mobile browser. Most Human Capital Management (HCM) applications will not be a good fit for mobile devices, but certain ones such as an employee directory work well.

End-to-end actions: 95 percent of the time, an employee will access a HCM mobile application, if they need to take action on a single item, like a vacation request, looking up a co-workers information, etc. Additionally, a manager can perform a more complex task, like trying to retain specific information on a worker and fasten decision making, while on the move. The manager can leverage the mobile HCM application to review the salary of the team, look at the department’s salary budget to determine the scope for salary increase and finally give an out-of-cycle increase to that worker.

Complete in 2 minutes or less: Activities like writing long emails and completing performance review tasks can be extremely time consuming on devices like iPhone and Blackberry. While a tablet like iPad is slightly better to complete such tasks, it will still take 2-3 minutes, similar to a laptop or a desktop.

“Mashed” with other functional areas: For ease of use and adoption, HCM mobile applications should be “mashed” with other functional areas, like sales, to give them a much better chance of being accepted and to be able to provide a complete offering to employees.

HR applications to go “Mobile”

Today, organizations can extend few important HR applications to employees’ mobile devices to enhance workforce productivity, instill learning initiatives and drive employee engagement. ‘Mobile learning‘ can train, feed and share corporate information on the employees’ smartphone devices, anytime and anywhere, which results into their knowledge development and skill enhancement. Employees can access highly interactive searchable content, videos, podcasts, training program materials and also conduct tests at a flexible time and location convenient to them.

The Worker Directory is another application that provides a secure, real-time access to employee contact, availability and hierarchy information, thereby equipping HR personnel to complete simple task like job changes, updating employee goal, etc., while on the move. Similarly, the tablet version of this application will have robust functionality by enabling an ERP on hand-held devices. Additionally, mobile applications also contribute towards enhancing workforce communication, especially for employees who are always on the move. This will allow intranet portals and emails, to be published through a mobile RSS type feed for employees, for regular updates.

Further, applications on workforce analytics make possible scorecards, metrics and graphs that help HR professionals analyze data that help measure workforce productivity. Most business intelligence vendors today can build mobile dashboards, which can deliver workforce analytics to employees in a practical, inexpensive and through a shorter deployment time-frame. Finally, a mobile application can be used to keep graduates and professionals engaged through the recruitment process and thus ease the hiring process. Candidates can be updated on their interview schedules and can get information about the organization and the interviewer, on a much faster and easier medium.

Today, mobile devices and applications are a part of the workforce’s everyday life. Thus, HR has a great opportunity to improve engagement and productivity of its workers by providing targeted, action-oriented mobile applications, which will make them excited. However, not all HR applications should be made available on the mobile platform. For example, performance reviews, compensation planning or any activity requiring significant typing are not processes that should be adopted on the mobile platform. The challenge however, is whether or not HR will be able to deliver mobile applications in the near term to meet the demand.


• Can your organization afford mobile devices?
• Does your organization have corporate accounts with mobile device providers and are these accessible to your targeted employees?
• Do you have the process to help you identify the critical talent that needs access to the different applications?
• Are your mobile devices secure and compliant? Do you have a multi-level security scheme like password upon entry, VPN, encryption of local data, etc.?


Your organization is ready to roll out HR mobile applications

Your organization should wait and prepare the ground first

Humair Ghauri is the Senior Director, HCM Product Strategy at Oracle Corporation 

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Topics: Technology, Strategic HR

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