How Mobile Micro Apps Boost Employee Engagement and Productivity

Employee engagement is a top priority for many HR professionals, but it can be difficult to achieve — especially as the newest generation enters the workforce. While millennials comprise the largest generation of workers, only 29% are engaged at work and 71% are either not engaged or actively disengaged (Gallup 2016). This is a huge problem for businesses — one that costs the US economy $30.5 billion annually.

If you’re an HR leader, keeping employees engaged can make or break your organization. A recent study by Adobe found a direct correlation between technology and employee engagement and retention. In fact, 85% of employees who feel their company’s technology is ahead of the curve say they love their jobs, and 70% of employees believe technology improves work-life balance. On the other hand, most alarmingly, 42% of millennials say they would leave a company due to “substandard technology.”

So how can organizations easily and cost-effectively implement technology that can keep millennials engaged? Look no further than what’s in their hand or pocket — their mobile device.

In their personal lives, millennials rely on mobile devices and mobile apps to make their lives easier. They now expect a similar consumer-style experience anytime, anywhere — whether they’re at home, on the road or in the office, during the day or at nights or weekends. For millennials, it’s not acceptable to use desktop-only applications or complex mobile applications. They want something that is quick and simple, and they want it now.

These changing workforce dynamics mean there is a heightened expectation on HR leaders to provide a more natural workplace experience. Now, more than ever, it’s crucial that HR leaders tap into the power of mobility before workers decide to take their skills elsewhere.

Many HR systems are monolithic and complex, and only accessible within the confines of the corporate network, making them difficult to access and mobilize. The best way to approach mobility is by providing employees with a simple, task-focused experience through the use of mobile micro apps — common operations that can be completed in no more than one minute. The benefits of mobile micro apps for an organization run deep. A report by Adobe found that employee mobility can increase productivity by 51%, improve internal communications by 47% and reduce overall business costs by 31%.

By mobilizing HR self-service capabilities into a suite of micro apps, employees and managers can more easily submit a PTO request, view a pay stub, or approve a travel request. The functions that can be most easily mobile-enabled are with Corporate Communications, HR Operations, and Benefits.

Corporate Communications

Mobile-enabling company news, employee directories and corporate compliance acknowledgements can improve agility and employee engagement. By alerting employees of news and events via push notifications, they are more likely to read and share than accessing the company intranet from their office desktop. Also, by delivering time-sensitive materials, employees can quickly digitally sign and acknowledge receipt of policies in support of corporate governance and compliance. And because a mobile device is more personal than a desktop, HR can actually leverage mobility to get live employee input. By delivering the company bulletin through their mobile devices, employees can quickly add a comment or send feedback to the company. This opens up new channels of communications between executives and employees.

HR Operations

By creating mobile micro apps for timesheets and approvals, paystubs, employee schedule requests and performance appraisals, HR leaders can significantly reduce friction in their workers’ lives. These critical HR processes are typically housed in disparate systems across the organization. Employees may have to access an HR portal to find their paystub, a different online system to submit timesheets, and yet another system to sign off on a performance appraisal. This can become a huge source of frustration for millennial workers, so creating micro apps for each of these tasks becomes a quick and easy solution. Workers can swiftly check their pay stub or submit their timesheets during their morning commute on the train or while they’re waiting for coffee.


Mobilizing benefits processes including enrollment and PTO can not only boost employee engagement but also help HR leaders reduce costs. When millennials can’t quickly access information they need about their benefits or vacation, they typically contact the company’s HR team. While most HR leaders might say they are more than happy to help, the truth is that these types of small requests add up — leaving a human resources director as more of a support help desk taking away time from high value training or strategic initiatives. By delivering a suite of mobile micro apps, employees can more easily access the information they need. This is a subtle, yet effective way to keep employees feeling engaged.

For companies looking to empower their employees with mobile access to their HR systems, it’s important not to include every single feature from the original solution. Taking all the functionality from the existing systems and re-factoring for responsive design rarely works as the complexity is inherited, and usability and intuitiveness suffers. As such, it’s vital that organizations pick and choose the right tasks to mobilize — those that are common or high-value and that can be completed in less than a minute

As the workforce becomes younger and with increasingly high expectations for a consumer-like experience, HR leaders can turn to mobility to satisfy their employees while also improving productivity. Mobile micro apps introduce a new two-way communication stream between employees and the company, and can meaningfully improve employee engagement.

This article was originally published on HR Technologist

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