Mobility Report: The Changing Definition of Mobilization in HR

Tags: SAP

This article, exclusive to Human Resources iQ, draws on research highlighted in the whitepaper "The Always-On Enterprise: Mobilizing the HR Workplace Connection." You can download the free whitepaper, courtesy Human Resources iQ and SAP, here.

By next year, over 60 percent of organizations plan to provide their employees with mobile access to Human Resources and Human Capital Management data, according to Bloomberg Businessweek Research. This data ranges from traditional employee self service data (such as payroll, PTO tracking, benefits information, etc.) to more sensitive, performance-related data such as employee reviews.

While this certainly will produce relief from the tactical burden on HR partners, the demand for a service delivery shift is actually coming largely in part from the employees—namely, younger Millennial generation workers who are accustomed to on-demand access to all kinds of information.

The need for faster access to HR data also stems from increasingly globalized workforces. Merck & Co. is a great example of how a $27.4 billion pharmaceutical company uses mobile HR.

"Going back 15 years, we didn’t have distributed organizations," says Martin Khun, executive director for strategic marketing operations and commercial support for the Asia/Pacific region of Merck Sharpe & Dohme, a Merck & Co. subsidiary. "It was painful and tedious. It took 150 e-mails to get anything done," he remembers. "All the employees had to have a local manager, even though they reported to me. Whenever I wanted to make a change for an employee, I had to write to the local HR person, who by proxy handled every kind of approval—from vacation requests to expense reports."

Research also purports companies that provide access to HR data via mobile devices will benefit from faster decision-making, increased productivity and higher rates of employee satisfaction.

According to Khun, deploying mobile HR has significantly reduced the cumbersome burden that the global workforce originally presented. Nowadays, "All my employees can sign on and apply for leave or any other request," Khun says. "When someone gets back from a trip, they submit their expenses, and the request pops up on my screen and I approve it. They get paid in their local currency, but the approval comes from me."

Approximately 80 percent of companies provide most of their senior executives with a mobile device. With this in mind, it seems practical to give supervisors mobile access to workforce management data and analytics.

"There’s a big push to get analytic information into the hands of managers," says Jason Geller, the global and U.S. HR transformation practice leader at Deloitte Consulting. "Giving them the ability to sit on their couch with a tablet and go into information in a more casual way, rather than sitting at a desktop and going through printed reports."

This shift also raises a few issues when it comes to matters of privacy. Because highly personal information will be disseminated over mobile networks, there is a need for upgraded authentication, encryption, access, partitioning and backup (download the research brief for more in-depth information on IT’s recommendations for how to protect sensitive data).

At Altera, HR executive Lyman says it should be part of the corporate culture. "There should be respect for the confidentiality of data, whether it’s business or personal," he says. "Your general policies should incorporate the concepts of need-to-know, of operating with integrity and with the expectation of doing the right thing—whether the data is in a hard-copy file that’s stamped confidential or on a mobile device."