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There's an app for that: HR magazine takes a look at some mobile apps to help with the day job

HR Editorial , 15 Dec 2011

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Mobile internet usage will overtake PC-based usage within the next four years, according to forecasts released in September by market research firm IDC. Its report also said sales of mobiles and tablets will soon overtake the sales of PCs.

Last month, at the CIPD conference and exhibition in Manchester, Neil Morrison, group HR director at publisher Random House Group, said: "My personal view is that you can control social media no more than you can control what people think and say. There is no plan B - technology is going to progress, but social media is here to stay: the only choice is how to manage it."

Every hour, five million tweets are posted on social media sites and droves of people have downloaded apps such as Twitter, Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to their mobile devices, to keep up with online debate, news and updates. In fact, the desire of younger employees to use social media, mobile devices and the internet more freely in the workplace is strong enough to influence their future job choice more than salary, according to an international study published by Cisco in September.

The second annual Cisco Connected World Technology Report, which surveyed more than 2,800 college students and young professionals in 14 countries, was commissioned to assess the challenges companies face as they strive to balance employee and business needs amid increasing network demands, mobility capabilities and security risks.

These potential recruits are using apps for jobseeking and this shift towards mobile devices means smartphone apps are becoming increasingly important for both HR professionals and for the HR systems we provide to managers and employees.

In fact, there are 500,000 apps available to download on the iTunes App Store alone, with a myriad of HR and management tools to choose from. But are these just gimmicks or 'iFads' - or are they a legitimate way to keep up with ever-changing employment regulations, recruit the best talent, manage company car fleets and nurture a culture of wellbeing?

What HR apps are hot?

UK Employment Law Cloud

Cost: free

Where to find it: AppStore

In a nutshell: The app features calculators for statutory redundancy pay entitlements, key maternity leave dates and severance pay amounts and has the ability to send calculations by email. Step-by-step checklists for disciplinary, grievance and flexible working request meetings provide users with instant access to the key legal procedural points.

The application also allows users access to law firm Squire Sanders Hammonds' own employment law updates and HR-focused workshops, as well as to an iPhone version of the firm's Essential HR Legal Facts booklet.

HR Advisor

Cost: free

Where to find it: AppStore

In a nutshell: Includes sections on areas of law, such as unfair dismissal, redundancy, maternity and paternity leave, equal pay and discrimination, as well as frequently asked questions. Details of statutory rates, such as the minimum wage, are automatically updated.

The interactive calculator function for redundancy will allow the user to input details such as age, length of service and salary, whereupon the app will calculate the resulting estimated statutory redundancy payment. It will include a compensation calculator.

Key Employment Facts

Cost: free

Where to find it: at http://emp.gateleyuk.com/ in the web page of your smartphone browser

In a nutshell: The app includes details such as the relevant qualifying periods of service for all types of potential employment claims. In addition, users can find out: compensation limits; time limits for written particulars of employment; and specific individual employment rights.

Deep Sleep

Cost: £1.99

Where to find it: AppStore

In a nutshell: It uses a combination of relaxation techniques including deep breathing, visualisation and meditation, allowing listeners to "drift into a deep, natural and restful sleep" (though not, perhaps, at work).

Taleo Radar

Cost: free

Where to find it: AppStore

In a nutshell: Taleo Radar combines location-based mobile technology with talent intelligence to pinpoint career opportunities and match them with professionals whose skills and experience make them candidates for job openings, new business pitches, or professional collaboration and networking.

Lumesse TalentLink Mobile

Cost: free

Where to find it: via app stores on Android, AppStore and BlackBerry devices

In a nutshell: enables mobility and instant access to critical company information on people, jobs, candidates, interviews and hiring processes.

My Wellbeing

Cost: free

Where to find it:

In a nutshell: The task-based advice is built around everyday tasks such as dealing with emails, writing reports or attending meetings. As well as tips on how to manage these activities, related health advice is offered, such as relaxation or anger management.

Pensions Reform Planner

Cost: free

Where to find it: AppStore

In a nutshell: With less than a year until pensions auto-enrolment begins to affect employers, this is a calendar for HR professionals, highlighting key dates for pensions reform. It will keep the user up to date with all future events and key legislative dates in the run-up to auto-enrolment. It includes opinion from consultants at pensions firm Aegon about each event, with suggestions of what to do next. This is accompanied by a call to action and links to more information.

Lex Autolease Interactive

Cost: free

Where to find it: AppStore

In a nutshell: Designed to give company car drivers the power to remotely book in repairs, new tyres and replacement windscreens, or report accidents using their mobile handset. The service can also be used to schedule an MOT or service, as well as providing access to What Car? reviews.

GO Mobile

Cost: free

Where to find it: via any smartphone device, including iPhone, BlackBerry and HTC

In a nutshell: Provides a swift, secure and flexible means of helping charities and good causes of your choice tax-free. Allows staff to access Payroll Giving's Giving Online (GO) initiative, which allows employers to create and promote their own Payroll Giving website to employees.

Monster Job hunting app

Cost: free

Where to find it: AppStore

In a nutshell: The app uses Monster's 6Sense technology to match jobhunters' skills and experience to the right career opportunities.

 

HR magazine asked blogger, consultant and serial 'tweeter' JON INGHAM to pick out some of his favourite apps…

Personal Productivity:

WhatsApp/Tweetdeck/Reader

First are generic apps HR practitioners can use for their personal productivity. As someone who focuses on using social media, some of my favourite apps are WhatsApp (free for cross-platform group messaging), Tweetdeck (free for Twitter) and Reader (free for RSS feeds).

Professional Effectiveness:

UK Employment Law Cloud

There are also a small but rapidly growing number of apps HR practitioners can use to increase professional effectiveness. The most popular focus is employment law.

My favourite, since it offers the most functionality, is the UK Employment Law Cloud from Squire Sanders Hammond. In addition to the most comprehensive list of legal facts (with push notifications when there are developments) and calculators for maternity leave dates and severance and redundancy pay amounts, this offers the most useful set of checklists.

Perhaps I should say 'potentially useful', as I am not quite sure who the app would be useful for. I would expect HR practitioners to know the key aspects of legislation or to want to consult their lawyers, or a range of other sources, not just a smartphone app.

HR Systems:

Lex Autolease Interactive

Apps are now available to support many of the main HR and talent management systems (SAP Employee Lookup, Workday, Lumesse TalentLink etc), providing mobile access to their functions.

I am sure mobile will increasingly become the main way managers will get information on, and manage, their people, but of course, without corporate access to these systems, these apps are not so easy to review.

One of the more specific apps I have been able to look at, in an area that may concern some HR managers, is Lex Autolease Interactive. This app allows drivers (and fleet managers) to choose and manage their leased car. Support for choosing a car includes consulting What Car? reviews and booking a test drive.

Managing a car includes ordering European travel documents, reporting a road traffic accident and booking repairs, new tyres and replacement windscreens. There is also a Kwik-Fit centre locator.

It is a fairly simple app, but does all that is required and I am sure we will see many more apps dealing with specific functionality (in areas such as concierge services, social recognition, pensions calculation, benefits selection and so on) over time.

Wellbeing:

My Wellbeing

None of us feels productive and effective all the time. So once you, or your organisation's employees, have had enough of the above apps, you might want to try something such as My Wellbeing, developed by Leeds Metropolitan University to give users advice based on their current emotional state. Feeling tired? Not enough energy? Then you might want to read the app's advice on your diet, energy, fitness and exercise or managing stress.

Some of the guidance on the app is quite detailed, so for example, there is a good section on sleep, which explains the different stages of sleep, provides a good sleep guide and offers further advice on dealing with insomnia, and keeping a sleep diary.

Wellbeing:

Deep Sleep

You may even want to try another app, Deep Sleep, created by Scottish therapist, Andrew Johnson. The app costs £1.99 and provides a 30-minute wind-down using a combination of relaxation techniques, including deep breathing, visualisation and meditation. It is designed to be listened to last thing at night (after, not before, all those emails).

Johnson claims that two weeks' use of his creation can change a person's sleeping patterns for life. I cannot comment on that as I have only used the app once and failed to fall asleep - but I may just have been too focused on finishing this article for that.

Job Hunt:

Taleo Radar

If you are still feeling tired, then perhaps you should be looking for another job? And here again there are a small number of apps that can help eg Monster, Totaljobs and 1job, as well as one in-company job search app - Nestlé Careers - that provides the same sort of functionality.

Most of these apps are straightforward, providing keyword-based searching and the opportunity to 'favourite' certain jobs or email them back to yourself to view and apply for later on. I like the apps that provide an opportunity to apply for jobs using a pre-created CV, though I would probably never use this personally and am unsure how popular it will become.

More interesting though perhaps not so useful, at least in the short term, is Taleo Radar. This app uses GPS-based location information to connect professionals with job openings and opportunities for business deals and professional networking around them. This means that rather than searching for jobs, users can promote themselves and their skills and experience to whoever might be interested in a particular location.

I really like the idea of this app, as it uses functionality that is only available on mobile devices - rather than simply providing the same functionality as on a PC, but making this more accessible.

The challenge in any system such as this is to develop a critical mass of users to increase the benefits it provides. I just got a message that "No one is currently logged in nearby", so I am not convinced the benefit is currently there. But out of all of the apps reviewed in this article, given its mobile-focused functionality, this is the one I am going to keep an eye on.

 

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Fingertip HR App

Julia Homan 17 Dec 2011

Fingertip HR Limited have created and launched an App for iPhone, iPad and iPod that provides a free FAQ section and in-app purchase guides at £1.49 each covering most employee and employment-related matters. There are 10 guides in all, each one containing a step by step process for the different stages of each subject together with template letters, meeting formats, spreadsheets and forms. The sections cover the entire lifecycle of an employee and, as a taster we have made the Holiday guide free. There are also tips where relevant to prompt the user to think carefully about what they are trying to achieve at each step. The App will be updated extensively in January 2012 when a new section on Capability/Incapacity will be added together with lots more FAQs. We have billed our App as a resource that business owners and managers cannot afford to be without. We think it's an ideal tool for SMEs but also for franchisors or national multi-site businesses who want to ensure consistency and transparency across their entire business network. We're willing to talk to any businesses that are interested in white-labelling our App for their own internal use. The Fingertip HR App is available for download from the App store on iTunes at: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/fingertip-hr/id453013977?mt=8 We're also on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. With best wishes Julia Julia Homan MCIPD Fingertip HR Limited

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