Opinion: Mobile tools and platforms driving HR value in Australia

by HCA18 Dec 2015
Want to embrace mobile technology in your HR team but don't know where to start? Rachel Sutton outlines how her company has moved beyond the bare basics of what mobile can do for HR.

According to research published by Australian telecommunications reporter, Paul Budde, smartphone penetration in Australia reached over 85% by mid-2015, radically transforming the way Australian businesses operate.
In addition to creating new ways for organisations to interact with customers, suppliers and other stakeholders, mobile technology is also helping HR departments become more efficient and build better relationships with employees by offering employee self-service (ESS) platforms.
In late 2015, employees are no longer tethered to a desk; mobility is the norm for a great many businesses, enabling team members to work remotely and balance office and home life. Employees benefit from the convenience and access to information 24/7 while managers and HR staff can handle requests and administration tasks from their mobile devices.
Technology to bring people together
As a global organisation operating across a wide range of time-zones and cultures, Sage has drawn on its technology heritage in payroll and HR in Australia to benefit from deploying an ESS solution across the business. Within the Sage business, HR staff all use a smartphone, which helps serve as their office. It enables staff to receive instant notifications and responses with rich, live information that is kept accurate.
The ESS tool offered by Sage MicrOpay enables traditional employee access to payroll and leave data from a remote location via a browser-based interface. Staff members can sit with family members at home and have direct access to the ESS platform to review and book leave for holidays or important family events. In a fast-paced work environment, this frees up time for HR teams and managers, while providing a more convenient, employee-centric experience.
The ubiquity of mobile access has also enabled modern businesses to benefit from a number of other tools to deliver learning and development to employees. In a competitive employment environment, it’s important for organisations to provide relevant, robust training to enable employees to grow and enhance their skills. Sage operates the Sage Academy, which is a digital, mobile-friendly platform that provides training programmes and enables staff members to help take an active role in their personal development.
By deploying all training on a single platform, it offers employees the flexibility to learn at their own pace and convenience. Sage has engaged with providers who have extensive suites of digital learning opportunities that give access to thousands of courses. Offering all staff within a global organisation access to a single unified training platform helps drive a single, truly global company culture.
A second factor in helping businesses strive towards a single culture are enterprise collaboration platforms like Salesforce Chatter or Microsoft Yammer. These internal collaboration tools resemble popular social media platforms, which reduces the learning curve for employees when deployed across a company network. They are critical in helping organisations be able to work globally, with full collaboration that email just doesn’t offer.
Where once, distributed teams relied heavily on conference calls, virtual meetings or email, enterprise collaboration platforms are effective because they enable staff members from teams in disparate locations to engage with each other directly. This level of flexibility has an additional benefit – it can be used to reach more members within the organisation more quickly. It’s not uncommon for the list of recipients on an important email chain to ebb and flow as a project develops. Collaboration platforms have an opt-in system, so as a project reaches a new phase, or new team members are added, they can have access to all discussion, notes, files and multimedia associated with the project.
The HR connection
These tools benefit HR as it frees up time to really focus on delivering important outcomes by engaging people with important interactions. Mobile technology and collaboration tools help make it possible for HR staff to reduce time spent policing and instead add real business value. For example, not being restricted to a desk during work hours enables employees the opportunity to interact with HR at any time, and in turn, HR staff are able respond more quickly and improve the quality of the service they provide to the business. The employee has more control in how they engage in conversations about their development.
A second benefit of technology-based platforms for the HR department is the added ability to deal with employee requests as they arrive. Being able to respond in near real time helps minimise the stress around what new requests may have come in overnight, which reduces administration and filing, and enables HR staff to further add value. Even better, these platforms help create a positive effect on HR team morale and staff retention because the environment is more rewarding. HR employees aren’t restricted by systems and processes and instead are free to deliver excellent service using these smart, employee-centric tools.

About the author
Rachel Sutton is the group HR manger for Sage Australia