Need an App for That?

Apps employees may find helpful at work

By Aliah D. Wright Nov 14, 2014
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Busy HR professionals and employees can adopt a multitude of apps to use from their mobile phones to improve engagement, manage time and attendance, increase productivity, and more. For example, German enterprise software company SAP has a suite of mobile apps that do everything from helping employees find carpooling buddies to assisting recruiters in managing candidate data.

David Thielen, the creator of the Enforced Vacation app—which employees can use to “pause” their e-mail—said he came up with the idea after one of his sales engineers was answering a support ticket while “in the emergency room about to have emergency gallbladder surgery.” Thielen, CEO of Windward Studios, the company that developed the app, said he believes employees need “downtime.”

“If everyone is burning out [from constantly checking e-mail], they’re not as effective. If you don’t have downtime, you’re not on top of your game, and if you don’t have downtime, you never get those flashes of insights that are so valuable.”

Here are just a smattering of popular apps employees may find helpful. They are available online, or in the Google Play, or Apple App stores.

Concur. An expense and travel app employees use to manage their work-related travel and keep track of their receipts. Workers can take photographs of receipts, upload them to the app and manage their expenses in real time for faster reimbursement later.

Cotap. A secure instant messaging app. More than 67 percent of workers use a mobile messaging app to text colleagues, according to the company that developed this app. Cotap is the secure version of Facebook’s WhatsApp, wherein users can exchange messages in a more secure environment.

Daylite. An app for recruiters looking to manage candidate and job processes on Apple devices, including Mac, iPhone and iPad. This app stores a detailed history of communication with job candidates, including e-mails, phone calls, past job orders, interviews and more. Recruiters can filter through contacts to find candidates by specific job skill or field of work.

Enforced Vacation. Allows employees who access their work e-mail accounts 24 hours a day to choose whom to receive e-mails from at night, over the weekend or on holidays, or decide not to receive any e-mails at all. Companies have to opt-in for the app to work.

Elance. A freelance service through which companies hire contractors to perform short-term assignments. Employers can keep track of projects and make payments. Functionality is somewhat limited on the mobile platform, but the service is fully functional online.

Fiverr. A similar freelance app that connects users with freelancers in more than 120 categories—with services starting at $5.

eflex Benefits. Gives users 24-hour access to their benefits accounts, where they can manage and file claims and check for approvals (and denials). Users can process their claims faster by uploading photos of their receipts through their smartphone’s camera.

Foko. A private photo-sharing and messaging platform for companies touted as an “Instagram for employees.” “It’s the ultimate medium when it comes to messages,” Foko CEO Marc Gingras told SHRM Online. Employees download the app and verify their e-mail address through their corporate e-mail account. Anyone who has connected through a corporate e-mail account with the same domain name can use the app. Only registered users can see photos their colleagues are sharing, Gingras said. “You can pick and choose who you want to follow; you can add a caption underneath the photo.” People can add filters over the photos, just as in Instagram, and they can crop images and add text to the images as well. While employees can now use the app without clearing it with HR first, Foko is adding an administrator panel so employers can control who uses the app.

NOVAtime’s Native Mobile Applications. Gives remote employees, such as construction workers, home health care aides and housekeepers, access to work schedules, timekeeping, vacation or sick leave accruals, vacation requests, and other information. Managers can approve time off requests and track performance.

oDesk. Another platform where freelancers or independent professionals can contract for short-term projects such as designing websites or developing code, improving search engine rankings, writing content, creating mobile apps, and more.

Secret and Whisper. These apps enable anonymous messaging.Both allow users to swap secret messages without ever knowing the identity of the user or sender. Whisper also allows groups of people to have anonymous conversations. Both apps allow users to superimpose photos on their messages.

Wickr and Confide. These apps convey encrypted messages. Then the messages disappear, a la “Mission Impossible.” Text messages sent over Confide disappear as soon as the user finishes reading them. Wickr messages, photos and videos self-destruct based on when the user decides they should expire. Wickr also has a secure shredder feature that prevents deleted files from being recovered, completely erasing any deleted files on your device.

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

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