This is the age of mobile HR software

July 22, 2020

Once upon a time, HR software was a spreadsheet. Then it became an on-premise system. Then it became a cloud-based solution. And now we are in the thick of the next phase of evolution – and it’s all about the mobile phone. 

HR apps to replace traditional processes

Josh Bersin predicted the rise of mobile HR apps nearly five years ago.

In 2016, Computer Weekly reported this prediction. They said that more big businesses than ever were now using an SaaS-based delivery model for their HR information system. And they said that the next wave of progression was right around the corner – a mass migration of HR functions being taken care of by mobile applications.

“A new generation of innovative technology companies are developing smartphone apps” wrote tech reporter Bill Goodwin. “These will replace performance appraisals, measure the engagement of employees and help them achieve a better work-life balance.”

I think that 2016 was a significant year for smartphone apps. 

I’m not saying that it was the “year of the smartphone” or anything – that title belongs to 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. But I do think that by 2016, we had seen a significant number of the bigger, slower-moving corporations, adopting an SaaS model for their core business functions. 

And I believe that this cleared the path for smartphone apps to really make their way into the workstream.

We are riding an endless spike in smartphone usage

It’s fair to say that by 2016, we were already a nation of smartphone junkies. And this has ballooned over the last few years – especially where business is concerned. 

Did you know that:

  • 39% of people check their emails on the toilet (source)
  • 59% of Brits say their employer is too slow to deliver apps to the workforce (source)
  • 70% of people keep their phones “within constant eye contact” at work (source)

This is partly because smartphone ownership is increasing. According to Statista, 2.5 billion people worldwide owned a smartphone in 2016, compared to 3.2 billion in 2019. And the forecast for 2021 is 3.8 billion people! 

Whether we like it or not, mobile phones are very much a part of our working lives. And HR can either choose to resist, or use this information to their advantage.

HR needs to engage employees on their own territory

Progressive HR professionals know that if they want to interact with their workforce effectively, then they need to do so using a medium their employees are comfortable with. 

Once upon a time, this might have meant an appointment booking system, along with a big heavy wooden door with a waiting area outside. But these days, mobile apps are pretty much our native habitat.

We first launched the People HR app in June 2015, as a companion to our browser-based HR software. But development of the app itself actually started way back in 2012. 

You see, while we were preparing to bring the People HR web version to market, we suspected that the meteoric rise of the iPhone, which started in 2007, was going to make a deep and irreversible impact on the workforce. And looking at the numbers now, I think we were right.

Thousands of employees interact with HR via native mobile applications

Thousands of employees are doing their HR via mobile apps already. And to show you an example, I’ve pulled some usage stats from our own HR app: 

  • 103,269 app downloads by employees
  • 10,212 pulse surveys answered
  • 289,101 expense reports submitted

Of course, these figures were true as of writing this, and the numbers keep growing. It’s also worth noting that numbers are only from our own app – there are many, many competitors out there helping employees engage with HR in similar ways.

This tells me that a lot of people clearly use HR apps to manage their relationship with their employer. And it feels like HR is finally tapping into the power of knowing that they can engage and interact with their employees on the go.

The acceleration of mobile adoption since lockdown

Mobile working has been on the rise for quite some time. But it has been accelerated significantly since COVID-19 lockdown. 

People who may never have bothered to use their phones to check in on Skype, Slack or emails, have suddenly found themselves doing so religiously. And while it may have been lockdown that “forced” this latest surge in mobile adoption, for many there is no desire to go back.

It feels like perhaps lockdown has accelerated the growth of a trend that was already at our front door.

Mobile HR is not just for employees

HR apps can support more than just your employees. In fact, we recently finished building a brand new HR app for our customers, to replace the one we launched in 2015 – and it does an even better job of supporting the HR professionals and administrators during this expanding era of mobile working.

You see, whereas the app we launched in 2015 did a great job of engaging employees no matter where in the world they were, we quickly noticed that more HR leaders were looking for the freedom to perform their roles without having to log into a browser.

“My job entails visiting sites multiple times a week” one customer told us. “Some days I do not get the opportunity to even open my laptop until the end of the day. So having an HR app that lets me manage everything from my phone makes me much more productive. It also saves me during those embarrassing moments when I forget to do something important – I can just do it in the moment from my phone!”

The People HR mobile app is free for all customers. Not with us yet? Watch this trailer – or start your free trial today.

Our software has always been optimised for browsers on any device. But we believe that our new mobile app delivers HR software that even better supports the expanding age of mobile working – for you, for your employees, and for the future of your business.

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