Last year, people were online for an average of 24 hours a week. For people aged 16-24, this was higher, at 34.3 hours. Smartphone addiction is real, and it’s being fuelled by the rise of the ‘tech natives’, aka Generation Z.
But what can HR do about this problem? And is it even a problem? Or is there a way HR can take advantage of smartphone addiction at work?
31% of employers outright ban mobile phones
HR often looks to solve the problem of smartphone addiction at work, by finding out how they can prevent employees from using their personal devices. According to a report by HR News:
- 31% of employees say personal smartphones are banned outright
- 29% of employees say senior management don’t trust them to use their personal devices
- 26% of employees are confused by their company’s mobile policy
But the question I always find myself asking, is this: Is the use of smartphones at work really such a bad thing? I explored this topic in some detail, a while ago, in an article titled: Should HR be more relaxed about mobile phones at work.
If you’re still debating whether it’s a good or bad thing, then read that article. Today, I’m going to assume that instead of trying to ‘beat’ the smartphone addiction at work, you’re trying to take advantage of it.
Quicker compliance & a better audit trail
Have you ever felt like getting key company documents signed is a constant game of cat and mouse? The trouble is not that people don’t see the policies or documents… it’s that they are far too busy doing their work, to remember to sign them, and return them to HR.
If you have an online HR system, then you’re one step ahead of the game already – employees can electronically sign documents once they’ve read them. But why stop at just desktop and laptop computers?
If your HR system has the capability for eSigning documents, then encouraging employees to do this from their mobile phone, will help you keep your response rate high – and the auditors happy!
Plus, you may be able to edit and upload your own HR documents from your own mobile phone. Remember, you probably use your smartphone just as much as your employees do.
Oh, and in case you were wondering – yes, electronic signatures are just as legally binding as pen and paper!
Smartphones are the new way to clock in and out
Tracking time and attendance is one of the most understated benefits of smartphones, as far as HR is concerned. There are so many ways to clock in and out. But why don’t more HR professionals consider the advantages of using smartphones?
I mean, seriously. It’s easy to forget a punch code. It’s easy to forget to add a name to a spreadsheet. It’s very easy to leave an ID card at home. But how often have you gone to work without your mobile phone, or forgotten the pin code to unlock it?
We are so attached to our smartphones, that we are almost literally becoming a nation of cyborgs. And research from 2014 says that even if you do forget your mobile phone, 3 in 10 people would go back home to get it, no matter how far they were from the house.
HR can use this obsession of never leaving a phone behind, by utilising this pocket computer to support clocking in and out. For example:
- Geofencing can clock employees in and out when they enter a particular geographic area
- Proximity beacons can automatically clock employees in when they are close enough to the beacon
- QR scanners on phones can scan codes to prove particular locations have been visited
If you’re a People HR customer, you might like to learn more about the new time and attendance package we launched, which helps you take advantage of this technology. Learn more about time and attendance on our news site, here.
Allowing smartphones encourages a more honest, open way of working
Natalie Lynch is a solicitor. And she says that if HR fails to embrace the working style of the era, then they are mandating a workplace that has incentive to sneak or become unmarketable. In other words, stopping employees using their phones just encourages them to go behind your back – which is more of an issue.
“Smartphones can be locked down in ways that make sense to each employer, according to their security issues” she reassures. “By embracing smartphones, HR is acknowledging the acceleration of business, research and integration.”
Lynch says that even employers operating in locked down free trade zones find ways to utilise phones to keep their employees relevant and efficient, while safeguarding company data.
Other advantages of encouraging smartphones in the workplace
Smartphones at work encourage transparency and honesty. They can offer HR innovative new ways to track time and attendance, and they can get more key documents signed, faster. Here are a few other ways HR can embrace smartphone addiction:
- Engagement. Using smartphones as a way to engage employees is a great way of taking advantage of the fact that they probably have their phone with them at all times. Sending “thanks” notifications to recognise and appreciate is one idea. Some companies also use HR apps to notify employees of exciting company events.
- Secure chat. Some HR departments like to use mobile phones as a way to engage in secure chat with employees. For example, the People® app offers auditable chat functionality between team members and their manager – meaning you can have confidential HR discussions with employees, wherever they are.
- Tracking team time. A good way HR can encourage smartphone use, is by helping employees see when their team members are working, or when they are away. With a team calendar synched to a mobile phone, there’s no need to go hunting for somebody who isn’t there.
If you are a People® customer, you can use our smartphone app for Android and IOS, completely free of charge. Just download from the app store here: