Enhancing Employee Engagement with Mobile

Savvy companies understand which mobile tools to embrace.

By Glen Chambers September 1, 2015

9HR_Tech_Final.jpg0915cover.jpgMobile technology has come a long way since the days of flip phones. For organizations, integrating mobile capabilities into digital tools can support employee productivity and engagement. The first step to becoming a mobile-savvy employer is to understand the various options for developing this technology.

Enhancing Mobile

Mobile apps can take three unique forms, each with its own set of benefits and build approaches.

Native apps are based on software written for mobile devices that is developed to use on a specific platform, such as Windows, iOS or Android. They are downloaded directly to the device and stored locally. The majority of the code and assets reside on the phone. Native apps can be downloaded by visiting the appropriate app store for the device (Windows Phone Store, Apple App Store, Google Play).

Web apps, which can be quicker to build and change and simpler to maintain than native apps, can be accessed by any modern mobile device that has a browser. They exist and run within the browser with the support of HTML5, CSS3 and advanced JavaScript. In fact, the browser itself is a native app that has direct access to the device’s operating system. There are two subdivisions within Web apps: mobile Web apps and mobile websites, both of which can be accessed on smartphones.

The key difference is that mobile websites are designed responsively so they work well on both large and small screens, whereas mobile Web apps are developed specifically for mobile devices.

For a mobile website, each time a new page is accessed, the device downloads all the page content (HTML, CSS, JavaScript and data). For a Web app, however, download occurs on the initial visit and the data is stored locally. Therefore, while a Web app will have a longer download time initially, it will be quicker to access on subsequent visits, while a mobile website will have to load content for each new page visited, requiring more-frequent downloads.

Hybrid apps combine elements of both native apps and Web apps. They are built using Web technology that is wrapped in a platform-specific shell. This means they are downloaded from app stores, yet they are not limited the way Web apps are to certain mobile functionality. Unlike native apps that can potentially work offline, hybrid apps mostly rely on a constant Internet connection as the data and content come from external sources.

Mobile Empowerment

Apps with slick user interfaces, intuitive controls and real on-the-go connectivity can take mobile technology to the next level of productivity. More and more, mobile functionality is being delivered inclusively with modern digital solutions. For example, cloud-based expense programs with native apps allow users to access a phone’s camera to capture photos of receipts and upload them into an expense report. Apps on customer relationship management platforms are giving sales staff who travel from one client meeting to the next quick and efficient access to client details with just a few clicks. And digital marketing platforms can now incorporate apps for monitoring responses to marketing e-mails. Intranets that form document management platforms can combine mobile access with cloud-based document readers and editing services to allow employees to not only view documents on the go, but to actually work on them.

Using the intranet for corporate messaging and global vision can play directly into employee engagement strategies. Creating a corporate news feed with rich media is a great way to keep staff connected to organizational goals and to spread important information across the business fast. The intranet can also serve as a people directory that can be used to help employees identify others with the skills they need for specific projects. If combined with a native application, a mobile-friendly intranet can also link directly into the call capabilities of a user’s phone for instant connection to any global team member.

Cloud-based intranet-as-a-service solutions feature both responsive and native mobile applications that can be built on various platforms. The apps themselves are maintained on the supplier end, allowing them to be updated with minimal cost and effort.

With more workers predicted to access business applications via their mobile devices in the future, HR leaders have an opportunity to use mobile technology to simplify administrative tasks, boost engagement and drive organizational effectiveness.

Glen Chambers is senior vice president of the North American division of BrightStarr. He combines extensive management experience with broad technical and business consulting skills. To find out more about BrightStarr, visit www.brightstarr.com.

©2015. International Association for Human Resource Information Management. Used with permission.

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