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Paper Forms Are So Yesterday

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Technology is the great disruptor, and what it is disrupting now is the need for paper forms. Mobile technology, coupled with cost and environmental pressures, and tech-savvy millennials, is changing the way business is conducted. In this perfect tsunami of events, your paper forms need to go and mobile apps for smartphones and tablets need a hearty welcome.

Only the Facts

The shift away from desktops to smartphones or smartphones-and-tablets is gaining speed. Wired predicts that smartphones will become the only computer people use within the next two years, and each generation of technology is able to handle more tasks. The handwriting is on the wall for employers – the place and methods for completing work will continue shifting away from desk-bound to mobile.

Businesses spend more than $120 billion annually on printed forms, and most of those forms are outdated within three months. It is a business and environmental tragedy. Each misfiled document costs your business an average of $125 in employee search time and other business impacts.

Freed from the Desk

Overlaying everything is a tech-savvy millennial workforce that expects employers to prove they care about the environment and are willing to adapt to technology to make the environment and employee lives better. Nielson Research found that over 85 percent of millennials own smartphones. The millennials in your workforce are the first generation of workers who are completely comfortable using mobile technology.

Important for employers like you to know is that millennials naturally believe the mobility should free them from their desks and paperwork. Mobile applications for smartphones and tablets enable them to roam the office building to innovate with coworkers, roam around the house while achieving work-life balance, and roam the world when your business goes global.

Mobile apps are quickly proving to be the key to increasing employee productivity and engagement, and to streamlining forms completion and input, without the need for paper. Employees can access information whenever it works best for them, whether in the office, at home, are out on the town. They can read the latest corporate policy, complete a travel report or review announcements, auto-sign any document and send it back as proof it was read. Millennials are not interested in paper pushing when they know the touch of an app can lead to more efficient and timely results while enabling self-service functionality.

Apps are the Future

Employers who see the paperless writing on the wall are quickly transitioning to the use of mobile technology and apps that enable employees to access the intranet and back office programs. It is so efficient that many companies require their employees to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). In fact, Tech Pro Research’s survey found that 74 percent of organizations already expect employees to use their personal smartphones and tablets for work.  Millennials certainly don’t have a problem with that policy. If you are still relying on paper forms, it is time to consider switching to using a more electronic solution. Paper is so yesterday, and mobile technology is so the future.

Why HR Risk Exists in Any Size Company

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Human Resources risks are not confined to big corporations. All companies are subject to accusations of sexual harassment, discrimination, wage violations and a host of other employee-related claims. In fact, Employment Practices Liability is one now one of the fastest growing legal specialties. Sometimes, it seems like all roads seem to lead to attorneys.

Protection against these types of claims requires having a strong culture of inclusion and respect, and solid HR policies that are well communicated. An efficient HR communication system includes an employee process for signing off on current policies, critical to minimizing risks in an increasingly mobile workforce. As your employees walk around with eyes attached to their smartphones, it would be comforting for you, as an employer, to know they are staying current on the HR policies that protect them and you from an expensive and embarrassing mistakes.

Employment Practices Liability Impacts All Businesses

Every business has a culture, and your HR policies and procedures are major determinants of the type of culture formed. It does not matter if you have three employees or 300 employees because business size is not a factor. Discrimination and harassment can occur between two employees, or management and the entire workforce when your compensation or promotion procedures have built-in discrimination..

If you stay current on recent sexual harassment cases, you will notice they involve a wide a range of businesses. The Society for Human Resources Management recently discussed two cases in which women banded together to file EEOC claims of sexual harassment. In a sign of the times, both took place in companies that are in traditionally male-dominated industries. Hard to believe in this day and age that Moreno Farms in Florida had male supervisors engaging in graphic sexual advances, while Con Ed in New York was found guilty of refusing women equal opportunities for on-the-job training, work assignments, promotions and fair performance evaluations. Really? You would think a highly regulated utility company would certainly know better by now and have cleaned up its HR practices.

The lesson to be learned is that developing a culture of equality and inclusion is extremely important. If anyone in your business lacks respect for peers or coworkers, the risk is high that you will eventually find yourself sitting at a table across from an EEOC representative at the least, or a federal judge at the worst. Such a culture relies on transparent and supportive HR policies, and procedures that make it clear there is zero tolerance for inequality and discrimination, and everyone needs to be read and sign off on them.

Expensive HR Failures

Change is a constant today, and you need to rapidly adapt to the laws as they are printed by establishing relevant policies, procedures and effective communication systems or pay the piper in fines and lawsuit settlements. Even a handful of employees can be very expensive if they treat others unfairly. In September 2015, a federal jury awarded $17.4 million to the five former employees of Moreno Farms who experienced sexual harassment, and Con Ed must pay $3.8 million to resolve charges of sexual harassment and discrimination. There are big bucks in filing discrimination claims, even if you were in the dark as to what was going on.

A simple line of defense against lawsuits and EEOC claims is ensuring that each and every employee signs off on HR policies and procedures no matter where the person may roam the earth. That way, there is documentation proving the employees understand the corporate ethics, values and policies. Fortunately, modern HR technology make it possible for you to electronically distribute and record documentation, making it easy for people to read and sign the policies and procedures. Bottom line: You really cannot afford to do less.