For a long time, organisations have been divided between the perceived benefits and disadvantages of the use of mobiles in the workplace. We’ve all heard the arguments for and against, and whilst some organisations have embraced mobile technology, others are still far behind in reaping the potential benefits that the use of this simple and pervasive platform can bring. Now, more than ever, it’s time for the mobile phone to be brought front and centre in maintaining productivity and reaching out to support employees in the new world of work.
Not only do employees and management have to deal with working from home and the challenge of physical distancing, but also those who are still working in the physical workplace face significant challenges, including how to collaborate with large teams, working in isolated departments, being based across multiple locations, and the stresses and strains on mental health of having to face daily risks associated with the pandemic.
For those employees who are desk-bound, and perhaps even connected to corporate networks, solutions include the use of intranets, social media, and virtual meetings. But what about those in the workforce who are deployed at physical company locations, or whose work takes them outside? This list is not exhaustive, but includes all those working in critical services such as civil defence, hospitals, and sanitation, as well as those in service-industries such as hotels, warehouses and distribution centres, food manufacturing, airlines and airports, and retail.
Support for employees who can’t work from home
One example of an industry sector particularly impacted by the pandemic and where the workforce is largely not able to work from home or be desk-based, is the hospitality sector. Despite the reduction in the usual stream of clientele, most hotels have stayed operational by re-purposing to accommodate remote working, or even as centres for quarantine. In some countries, an internal staycation culture has also emerged as a response to bans on international travel. In each of these scenarios, hotels have had to maintain at least a skeleton staff across all key service functions. In addition, this sector has traditionally been based on differentiation via brand-specific service provision. The challenges to keeping employees in this type of environment informed, trained, and engaged are significant.
The ability to hold training sessions on site, to promote team-building events, hold daily team briefings, and cope with employees rotating between sites has been severely restricted. And this is not only applicable to the hotel industry – the retail sector has been similarly affected, whether franchise operations, mall operations or supermarket chains, as have airlines and airports, hospitals … and the list goes on.
The Need for a Common Platform
Organisations are challenged with coming up with ways to support communication, keep everyone informed, provide engagement, and maintain vital functions such as:
- Training and performance management
- Updating and disseminating rapidly changing processes and procedures
- Providing health and safety, wellness, and benefits updates
- Recognising and rewarding employees
- Sharing success stories and positive customer feedback
- Team building activities such as discussions, forums, and employee competitions
- Processing transactions such as claims, payroll and self-service activities
The importance of having a common platform to be able to deliver everything in a simple “anytime, anywhere” approach, providing a single point of contact for employees and managers, and helping the employee and manager continue to manage daily operations has become more important than ever.
Enter the Mobile Phone …
Providing employees with access to the company HRMS via their mobile devices goes a long way to meeting the challenges being faced. This approach means that employees can continue to access all core functions such as benefit information, claim processing, and training and development. In addition, HR teams can utilise the accessibility and availability of mobile devices to ensure that employees are kept informed of new regulations and new procedures, and connected to one central source of information – so critical in environments where being aware of, and following, the latest health and safety regulations can now literally be a matter of life and death. In addition to the practical benefits of this approach, the maintenance of a “normality” in routine cannot be underestimated in terms of impact on reducing stress and promoting positive mental health.
Training and Development
With a little creativity, training teams and management can post the latest “how to” videos on available platforms such as WhatsApp, Instagram, or YouTube. Employees can watch wherever they are on their own phone. This helps reach a wide employee base at different locations with a standardised message. This can simply be extended to employees being able to create content themselves and posting for colleagues to view – not only sharing good practices, but also giving employees a much-needed sense of “control” and engagement.
Mobiles can also be used to support quizzing apps and surveys that can be used to connect to the workforce and facilitate keeping communication channels open. Similar apps can also be used to provide employees with on-job checklists to help support adherence to regulations that are subject to multiple and frequent changes. Again, this gives not only operational benefits for the organisation, but also helps with inducing confidence in employees who appreciate the importance of following defined procedures on the job.
Setting up a group on an app such as WhatsApp encourages and spreads tacit knowledge between employees, while giving managers and supervisors a way to maintain open communication, and to identify and correct mistaken ideas, misunderstandings, or problem areas. Maintaining open communication channels helps people feel connected and safe. Many employees are now becoming more comfortable with virtual meeting applications such as Zoom, that enable team meetings to continue even when employees may be isolated. It’s also important to note that the use of virtual meetings provides a method of keeping employees who are working from home connected to colleagues who are in the workplace – essential for maintaining team dynamics and often dependent workflows.
Placing mobile use at the centre of work operations has benefits not only for the employees but also for management. In addition to the shared benefits from improved communication, the following are also important advantages of this approach:
- Ability to quickly reach teams and individuals with important new information
- Improved speed in resolving issues
- Ability to process management tasks remotely – such as approving claims and leave requests, or processing payroll approvals
- Enabling supervisors and managers to continually engage and motivate when face to face engagement is restricted
- Driving productivity that might otherwise be severely impacted by the new working environment and regulations
- Maintaining record keeping and data gathering for management reporting
In short, now is the time when organisations should put aside any concerns and embrace the benefits that the use of mobile technology can bring to the organisation, management, and employees. At the heart of this is the ability to share a central HR system via the widest possible range of mobile devices.
If you want your organisation to gain an advantage in these turbulent times, take a look at HRBluSky, a comprehensive HRMS solution that prides itself on providing a full range of feature rich services via mobile devices.