Blog Article

There’s an app for that!

Posted by Rick Lash

Rick Lash

In fact, there’s an app for just about everything – from finding a restaurant, current news and weather, airline schedules, traffic and transit status for your ride home, to losing weight. Researchers are now developing apps that will keep track of who is monitoring your apps.

Now, with mobile technologies being a way of life, overwhelmed human resources departments are turning to apps as a tool to provide around-the-clock services to an increasingly global workforce. Apps are now being used to manage recruitment and payroll processes, track employee time, attendance records, and work schedules and provide performance data.

In the process, apps are ushering in a fundamental change in the role and function of HR departments in major organizations.

Line managers now have instant access to benchmark pay and benefits databases that can provide answers to questions like “how much would it cost to relocate Carlos from Spain to Beijing?” or, “If I expand Mary’s role, how much should her salary go up?” – traditional HR turf.

While this may strike fear into the hearts of some HR departments, it shouldn’t. They should see this as an opportunity to adapt and grow. For example, knowing that a line manager is making a decision on whether to relocate Carlos is based on valid data and is aligned to the organization’s policies should provide comfort, and not be seen as a threat.

HR departments should be looking at ways to leverage apps to measure performance, change behavior, and their develop leaders.

Through apps like Hay Group’s Leadership Styles and Climate app, organizations can measure the effectiveness of their leadership programs in ways that were previously impossible. For example, most organizations measure their leadership development initiatives by gathering feedback from participants. But how does an organization measure whether an employee has actually changed their behavior? Apps enable an organization to measure the development activities that the employee is actually doing and the resulting behavior changes, along with the impact on business results.

In one groundbreaking study, conducted by a Swedish start-up company called Hoa’s Toolshop, a group of depressed patients were given a smartphone app that prompted users to engage in simple behaviors focused on adding structure to their life by doing undemanding tasks such as “go for a walk in nature”. After eight weeks, the group using the App showed significantly lower levels of depression.

Now imagine this scenario. After a leadership development program, you download a special development app with ‘micro-tips’ of practical actions to improve your leadership behavior when you’re back on the job. The tips are based on your specific development needs and expert research as well as recommendations of others in the organization using the app. The micro-tips get scheduled into your electronic calendar and are easy to complete and very doable. Each week, you receive a new list of tips tailored to your personal development plan or you may continue to work the old list until they are embedded in a new set of work habits. You can rate the effectiveness of the tips you used and share those with others. Your direct reports can also monitor and assess your progress through automatic surveys that are delivered through their smartphones.

Apps are not a passing fad, but a powerful technology that empowers line managers, frees up HR to focus on more strategic, value added activities and makes it easier for people to make real behavior change on the job to ensure they stay on track with their plans.


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