What if work was just like browsing Facebook?

Ever notice how easy Facebook makes your social life? Notifications alert you to important milestones. A personalized news feed catches you up on the latest happenings. With a single tap you can send encouragement to a friend.

It’s so easy our social lives have grown exponentially as a result. The average Facebook user stays connected to more than 300 friends. Imagine sustaining all those relationships without a mobile app to help.

Now imagine if work were that easy. We’d never miss an important task. We could approve work projects and requests in the same amount of time it takes to like a friend’s vacation photos. We’d tap and swipe our way to productivity.

In fact, that sort of work experience is exactly what today’s workforce is demanding. As Citrix noted in its Mobile Analytics report, “traditional distinctions between personal and business mobility are quickly fading from view. As a result, employers are increasingly expected to deliver work experiences that echo the simplicity of their consumer experiences.

Engaging the social media generation

Blame it on the millennials, if you like.

A third of employees belong to this tech-loving generation. Within 10 years, that number will skyrocket to three-quarters. Not only are they the drivers behind an exploding mobile workforce (which has surpassed 1.3 billion, more than a third of the world’s total workforce) but they’re changing the way work gets done.

These aren’t your typical 9-to-5 employees. Rather, they want to do work the way they do social media: mobile, flexible and easily accessible. Nine in 10 crave a fast-paced work environment, and they’re demanding technology that helps them succeed at it.

They’ve got the attention of IT leaders. Seventy percent say mobile technology is necessary for supporting millennials in the workplace, while more than half plan to increase their mobile investments in the near future. But it’s not just mobile these employees want. Nearly six in 10 IT leaders say communication and collaboration tools are also in high demand, and 43 percent plan on investing dollars into them.

“A lot of companies are talking about how to support and engage millennials, but there are so many that are not even close to doing so — and those who don’t are at a major competitive disadvantage,” said Alisia Genzler, vice president of Randstad Technologies, an IT staffing company.

So how can employers avoid getting left behind?

Enticing employees into productivity

One of the biggest reasons people love consumer apps is because they make things easy for us.

In fact, ease of use is the single most important feature of any mobile app, research has found. In one survey, 92 percent of respondents said apps must to be easy to use and intuitive, while 84 percent agreed they should make us more productive.

But the most successful apps take it even farther — they actually motivate us to get stuff done. Facebook, for example, combines reward cues with unpredictability and small bits of information to stimulate dopamine in the brain. Not only does this make the activity more pleasurable, but it also increases our motivation to do something.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Reward cues. Notifications use the same psychology as a clickbait headline, alerting you that there’s information you really want to know without telling you enough to satisfy. We’ve learned to anticipate a reward when we hear our phones ping or see the notification number on an app’s icon.
  2. Unpredictability. The rewards on a social networking site are unpredictable; we never know when they’re going to show up or what they’ll be. The random element increases dopamine levels and makes us enjoy it even more.
  3. Small bits of information. More dopamine makes us want to seek out more information, which we’re then motivated to respond to.

What do all of these things have in common? They can all be replicated in an enterprise app that streamlines workflow and makes the workday easier — just like consumer apps make our personal lives easier.

Making the workday easier with micro apps

There’s no question that apps like Facebook make managing our social lives much easier — everything’s right there in one place. There’s no reason an enterprise app can’t do the same for our workload.

In fact, that’s the reason for Sapho’s existence. Our rapid micro application development and integration platform gives IT staff the tools to rapidly create secure micro apps that meet both the company’s needs and employees’ demands for a truly mobile work experience. Using our drag-and-drop app builder, IT professionals can create micro apps that include:

  1. Push notifications. Most enterprise software requires users to remember which app is needed to get a certain piece of data, but that paradigm is changing. Mobile users have become accustomed to software that notifies them when something needs to be done.Push notifications allow employees to be alerted with important information or if there is an urgent task that requires action.
  2. Real-time news feed. Keep employees apprised of what’s happening with a personalized news feed that delivers information relevant to each individual’s job. This puts important information in front of employees’ eyes before they even know they need it.
  3. Automated workflows. Once the information is delivered, employees can take action on it right from their feed without having to log into any other programs. Approving PTO or expenses, for example, can be as simple as tapping in response to a notification.

If social media can enable us to maintain far larger social networks than ever before, the same tactics can be used to help us churn through more work — and at a faster rate — than ever before. Imagine that.

This piece originally appeared on the Sapho blog.