The Connected Digital Economy: Helping Build a Culture of Employee Engagement through APIs and Applications
Posted by: on 25 February 2016 in Innovation & Technology
A top priority of HR leaders is to effectively manage the workforce and build a culture of engagement. But this can be challenging when over half of your team’s day is spent on administrative tasks like manually inputting data, managing multiple systems and handling concerns about information accuracy.
Applications and API* driven insights are changing these time-consuming practices for the better. These tools focus on creating a better customer experience, driving additional sales and streamlining processes. Through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs), the world has witnessed some significant success stories — most notably Uber, Netflix, Amazon and Expedia. These organisations succeed in large part because of their reliance on business intelligence gathered from these API-driven insights.
How Do APIs Work?
Simply put, an API is a piece of code that allows different applications and databases to communicate and share data. An API connects different types of software without the need for user intervention. Amazon is a well-known example of an organisation that, through the use of an API, provides direct sales and links to their products on third-party websites. TripAdvisor is another example. Their APIs give customers the ability to instantly book accommodations through numerous sites — as well as directly from hotels.
However, APIs are no longer limited to improving customer interactions. They can now also enhance your HR protocols and procedures. These solutions can connect systems and information seamlessly into the business, providing the data to help you make more informed choices. For example, you can use an API to create a customisable organisational chart that allows you to experiment with different hiring scenarios and sharpen your decision making.
Why APIs Are Important
Organisations often find themselves allocating time and resources to managing multiple systems that are not integrated, addressing data entry errors and discrepancies, and developing reports to provide analytical management based on data that isn’t in real time.
According to a 2015 Deloitte survey (1), leaders now rate culture and engagement as their most important business issues. Compare that with the fact that 60 per cent of workforce solutions do not integrate, and it seems obvious that APIs are a tool that could simplify complex HR metrics and utilise real-time data to gain insights into an organisation’s health. As you tackle the challenges that a workforce made up of multiple generations brings, you also need to recognise cultural expectations and react with flexibility to your employee needs in areas such as talent, benefits, staffing and payroll.
One area where an API can quickly integrate with your existing systems is an application for a customised rewards program. This enables better recognition of outstanding employee achievements, leading to increased loyalty across the diverse population of your staff.
The Pivotal Role of Integration
Integration is vital for improving business efficiency — and APIs can support that assimilation — especially for optimising HR systems. Attracting and retaining talent, employee recognition, training, payroll, and workforce management are all key HR functions. While traditional systems don’t include intuitive technology and potentially lack the ability to engage with employees, generally because of single-source measurements, an API will provide a user-friendly experience that unifies services, eliminates duplication and even tailors communication pieces.
Innovation, Not Reaction
While task-oriented applications may be the talk of the digital world, their greatest benefit is found when implemented through an API to share data as part of an integrated solution. Essentially you need your apps to communicate with each other, and your existing systems, in real time. The key advantages of interconnected applications include speed (both quick to deploy and to add value), simplicity and a design that is functional and easy to use. Through a selection of integrated apps, you then benefit from utilising a common platform as opposed to accessing numerous solutions, each requiring a separate log-in (not to mention duplicate data entry), which can result in errors or faulty intelligence.
Imagine the advantage of creating an integrated platform, one that’s accessible through a single set of log-in credentials, regardless of location or device, which streamlines the workflow for your whole team. It becomes more about the business and your people and less about the administration and the frustration that is often felt when an employee has to duplicate information. Employing real-time data sharing and placing an emphasis on integration delivers efficiency, particularly when offering programs to a diverse workforce, contributing to a culture of employee engagement.
As important as APIs and any new technology are, the measure and potential success of any business paradigm is the impact and effectiveness that change delivers to your workforce. Embracing this widespread innovation, now available in the HR arena, can help your team and business deliver a more seamless and engaging experience for your most important resource: your employees.
APIs in Action:
Robert works in the HR department of a large retail business. For most of his time at the company, he’s used two or three systems to complete his work.
The Sticking Point
In the last year, his company has grown so quickly and added so many systems that it seems like his entire workday is spent looking up passwords and typing in log-in credentials.
Robert and his HR colleagues worked with the IT team to solve this problem by implementing APIs that integrate several systems. Now, he just has one password that grants him access to the software he needs each day. And, IT also used another API to build a custom application that’s saving Robert and his HR colleagues even more time so they can focus on recruiting, hiring, and building a great company culture.
* API stands for Application Programming Interface
- Global Human Capital Trends, Deloitte University Press, 2015
Written by: The ADP@Work team