The Growing Pains – and Pleasures – of Mobile Recruiting

By Aliah D. Wright Nov 2, 2015
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ClubCorp, which operates golf and country clubs, as well as business, sports and alumni clubs around the world, does a lot of hiring. However, the majority of job seekers applying for work via the company’s website used to abandon their applications midway in the process.

But that changed once the company upgraded its HR systems to allow for mobile apps for employees and mobile-friendly applications for job applicants.

“We got a lot of applicants who wanted to apply [through the website] but wouldn’t because they were frustrated because we weren’t mobile-friendly or device-friendly,” said Patrick Benson, chief information officer of ClubCorp, at Human Resource Executive’s 18th Annual HR Technology Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas. “But the weekend we [launched] we saw a 50 percent uptick in the number of applicants because [of] the native usability of the systems we implemented.”

ClubCorp representatives were among a slate of panelists at the conference that discussed the growing pains—and pleasures—of going mobile.

The panelists described how their companies use mobile in recruitment; to manage employee benefits, time and attendance; and to increase employee engagement and workplace productivity.

The statistics show how mobile usage is growing:

  • Nearly 64 percent of U.S. adults own a smartphone, according to Pew Research Center; by 2019, there will be nearly 1.5 smartphones per capita and mobile network connections will more than double, according to Cisco.
  • About 47 percent of Millennials use smartphones to search for jobs, according to Jobvite, which also found that 30 percent of Millennials search for jobs while they’re at their current job.
  • 60 percent of mobile users expect websites to load in less than 3 seconds, Cision reports.

With all of this smartphone use, it’s no wonder some companies have begun to finally optimize their career sites for mobile. According to a recent report from iCIMS, mobile and tablet usage among job seekers has “shown a staggering 60 percent increase,” although only “19 percent of organizations [surveyed in the U.S.] have implemented a mobile-friendly career portal.”

The companies that have “gone mobile” have considered smartphone use in how they attract talent, hire new employees, incentivize current employees, and improve both employee wellness and recognition through apps and internal social media sites.

The conference panelists told HR practitioners that they can and should play a pivotal role in helping facilitate the creation of mobile-enabled plans for their organizations.

Strategize First

First, the panelists suggested, HR should devise a mobile strategy. Determine what the plan for mobile is, what the company’s goals are and what you hope to accomplish.

“Decide if you want a mobile or optimized web presence or an app,” said Bryon Abramowitz, director of New York-based multinational professional services network PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). “Having a web presence that is mobile-friendly will lead you into several different directions,” he said, adding that companies should be aware that there is always a risk of security issues with mobile, too.

A report issued by network security company FireEye found that millions of mobile apps are vulnerable to attacks. The number of Android vulnerabilities has increased by 188 percent compared to 2011; the number of (Apple) iOS vulnerabilities has increased by 262 percent compared to 2011.

Abramowitz said that HR will have to decide “what ton of risk are you willing to accept. If you’re not dealing with confidential information, you can lock down with two-factor authentication, which is perfectly fine.”

He also suggested attendees consider “multifactor authentication for really sensitive data.”

Panelist Ed Coates, senior manager of benefits and compensation for Texas Mutual Insurance Company, urged HR to learn about cybersecurity. During his company’s conversion to a platform that would enable its HR professionals to approve time sheets and vacations from their mobile devices, “there was [at first] concern about putting our data in the cloud, and we had get over concerns about using mobile.” HR needs to “understand mobile device security—talk to IT and go through a process of educating the staff,” he said.

Communicating the shift to mobile device usage for employees is important as well.

“That was a fun part of the process,” Coates said. The company began communicating its mobile strategy to employees “very early on in the process and we kept feeding that to the workforce over the life of the deployment so we built up some excitement around that,” he said.

“After deployment, we put out a message to staff to go get the app,” Coates added. The company also “provided instructions and we continued to use online video and other educational tools so folks could easily understand how to use the app and what they could do. I went before two groups to show them how they could approve time sheets and vacations [from the app] and they got excited,” he said.

To communicate changes to PwC, Tom Dodd, vice chairman of U.S. human capital, said, “We started utilizing everything we could think of,” beginning with “a thorough change-management plan targeting all levels of the organization,” he said. “We deployed Google guides and all of our executive assistants got classroom training. We provided white-glove training to our leadership team. We used a top-down approach to make sure leaders were onboard and held online training courses for all. It was also an outstanding chance for reverse-mentoring with Millennials.”

Looking Ahead

Coates and the other panelists said HR professionals should plan to educate the staff to avoid obstacles later.

“We were giving people information they had never had before—and it really helped them do their jobs,” Coates said. “It was easy to get management comfortable with the device at the employee level.” However, “we had to assure people who had security concerns that their data was safe.”

Benson added that employers should conduct tests to make sure wireless devices will work properly on the corporate network.

“You’re at the mercy of your Wi-Fi,” said Benson. “We found out when we were testing we had consumer-grade Wi-Fi that could go up and down—it would cause unpredictable results in the application and lousy user experience. If you’re dependent on Wi-Fi, you’ll have to make sure it’s reliable.”

For those using deploying workplace apps—for time-keeping and attendance purposes, or to manage employee benefits—you want to focus on the end-user experience, he added.

“You’re going to learn stuff you never knew existed,” Benson said. “The technologies have changed … the concepts are still the same, but if you’re embarking on it thinking you’re going in one direction, you’re quickly going to be course-corrected.”

Aliah D. Wright is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

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