Ghadeer Redler: Creating a positive employee experience is crucial to an organization's success. And when it comes to frontline workers, who make up roughly 80% of the workforce, it's key that they feel informed, connected, and engaged. That's why having a seamless and personalized mobile interface is more important than ever before. On this episode of The Workday Podcast, Berea Schaffer, VP of Mobile at Workday, shares insights on how businesses can increase employee satisfaction by delivering an engaging end-to-end mobile app experience. I'm your host, Ghadeer Redler. Thanks for joining me today, Berea. Before we get started, can you tell us a little bit about your background and current role at Workday?
Berea Schaffer: Yep. So as you said, I am the VP of Mobile here at Workday. We have about 100 people on our team. We build the IOS and Android apps for Workday. And prior to joining Workday, I have spent 17 years in tech. Lots of that experience has been in mobile, and a lot of it has actually been in B2C companies, building solutions for people like travelers, for Expedia. I spent quite a bit of time at a startup called Armoire, which I'm still very involved in, which as a huge mobile presence. And I did some consulting and worked at Go Daddy, lots of other places. But I am super excited to be here at Workday and building apps that help over 60 million employees around the world do their jobs better every day.
Ghadeer Redler: Awesome. Well, we're excited to have you here in the Workday studio. So before we dive into the world of mobile, let's set the stage. Employee experience is such a broad term. So from your perspective, how do you define employee experience, and why is it so important?
Berea Schaffer: Yeah. Employee experience is, is very broad. It's really about how you create an environment that leads to more engaged and happy employees. And that spans, as you can imagine, across all of the interactions that employees would have with their organization and their peers at work. And employee experience is so incredibly important these days. It's what helps or hinders our ability to attract and retain talent. And, of course, we all know the war for talent is huge right now, and people are really demanding a, a great employee experience, one that matches their values, one that, you know, is seamless and helps them do their jobs effectively. And at Workday, we're in a really unique position. We are actually at the center of employee experience for most of the customers that we serve. We have all of the information about their employees. We have all the information about the organization and the needs of the organization. And we are the place that many employees and managers come to do lots of their-- lots of their tasks, lots of the jobs that they have to do for their organization.
Berea Schaffer: And so when we think about what we can do, we have the opportunity to really improve employee productivity through streamlining their digital experience. We also are at the center of helping foster growth and development for people. As we all know, everyone wants to grow their careers. The world is moving more towards a skills-based career framework. And we really have the opportunity to understand where people want to grow, what their opportunities are, and connect them with learning and training. And finally, we can help people feel more connected both to their organizations and their peers. And that can be through things like making sure that they're kept up to date on what's happening in their companies, that they have conversations with their peers and their managers. And through other products that we have such as Peakon, we can actually help organizations keep a pulse on how employees are feeling day-to-day and act sooner than they might have been able to otherwise.
Ghadeer Redler: Now, let's talk a bit about the role that mobile plays in employee experience. Can you share some insights on that?
Berea Schaffer: When we think about mobile for employee experience, I think at the center of it is we all are on our devices all the time. And we are used to having this really great and amazing access to people and information wherever we are. And that, that level of convenience that mobile has introduced in our lives is now the expectation for our work lives as well. And so when we are thinking about how to create the best employee experience, mobile really offers us the opportunity to meet people in their natural flow of work and really help them be productive and be engaged in the ways that they're used to. And the majority of workforces now actually have people using their phones, and the majority of workers feel that they can't do their jobs effectively without them.
Berea Schaffer: And so at Workday, we are really trying to figure out, how can we deliver a really amazing experience on our phones so that we can keep employees engaged, up to date, help them stay informed, but we can also allow them to approve that expense report while they're commuting to work or check in and check out super seamlessly on their job without going to a computer. And when we think about the way that people are working right now, there's a couple things that really stand out. First, over 80% of the world's workforce is deskless. They don't sit at a desk all day. They don't have laptops in front of them. And so their phones are really, often, the best place to enable them to do these types of things. And on top of that though, people are more dispersed than ever now with the pandemic. And now, people working from home, they're needing their business access to come to them. They're not sitting at the office all day. And so the net net is really that mobile is incredibly important. It helps employees be more productive, stay more engaged in the ways that they're used to, and our reliance on mobile is so huge today, and it's not slowing down.
Ghadeer Redler: Yeah. You make a lot of great points. And to touch on something you just
said, you know, it sounds like employees really are expecting a more consumer-like mobile experience at work as well. So what would you say are some of the challenges that businesses face when it comes to engaging with their employees on mobile?
Berea Schaffer: Yeah. So I would kind of group these into two things. The first is the employee challenges. So there's a few things that we've seen pop up in our research. One of them is just really around, you know, being able to separate your work and your life. And there still is a, do I want to use my personal device for work purposes? Lots of employers need to then secure those devices to make sure that they're safe and, you know, their critical information is not getting out. And people still view their personal device as something that is theirs. And so creating that kind of balance and, you know, do I want to be able to be reached all the time is something that people thing about. Another thing is the financial burden that it can pose. So if you're sending notifications or people are consuming a lot of data for work purposes on their phones, oftentimes, that will eat up their data plans. And so that's another consideration to keep in mind. And another one that, that has popped up recently that's quite interesting when we look at deskless workers is, although we know that they have devices with them, that it really enables them by being in their natural flow of work, there still is a stigma of bringing your phone out in the workplace or using it in front of customers. And oftentimes, people don't view that as a work thing. They think that you are slacking off. We hear this a lot from employees, that even though they're doing things for work, the, the perception is that they're doing something personal on their devices. And so that's definitely things that we know cross employees' minds.
Berea Schaffer: On the employer side, our customers, there's, there's quite a bit of things that have come up with mobile enablement. The first one and top of mind is really security. So with personal devices or even, you know, a lot of employers will actually supply devices, there is always the challenge of, you know, is, is the information and data secure. And we could have a whole segment on security [laughter] for devices and bring-your-own-device policies and the pros and cons there. But I think at the end of the day, it is becoming more popular to allow devices in the workplace, and employers are seeing that it's helping people be more productive, and they're starting to embrace that. The second part of that is really around the employer challenges. And there's a couple of things that really stand out in our research. The first one, of course, and top of mind for all CIOs is, is security. And so how do I make sure that if my employees are accessing work information from their devices, that we're keeping that information secure, we're protecting ourselves from breeches? And that's a very important topic, and we could have a whole segment on bring-your-own-device policies and best practices there. But we won't go into that right now.
Ghadeer Redler: Maybe another Workday podcast.
Berea Schaffer: Yeah. Absolutely. The second part that is really interesting is with hourly employees, and that is, if hourly employees need to be paid for the time that they're working, well, what happens when they're accessing their device off hours? Do I need to pay for those hours? And this is a top-of-mind concern for a lot of our customers that have hourly employees, that they bring up quite often. And so that's something else that, that we see employers working through with their employees and trying to figure out, you know, how they compensate for that time.
Ghadeer Redler: Let's dive a little more into that. What are some of the best practices that IT leaders should consider when implementing a mobile app in their workplace?
Berea Schaffer: Yeah. Definitely. So building off the last question a little bit, we, we talked briefly about security. But that is really, I think what's top of mind for most CIOs is, how do I make sure that I enable employees to be really productive, to be really engaged, but also secure my enterprise? And that's really just about putting a lot of careful thought into the policies and security measures that you have in place. And so everything from employee education, making sure that they-- and that's an ongoing thing, making sure that they know when and what they can access, and also that they understand, you know, what, what types of networks and things are safe to connect with, that's something that needs to be in place. We're all used to having that type of training for our laptops. And it's the same thing with the, with personal devices that you bring to work. The other thing is, you know, a lot of employers now use MDM solutions to help protect what employees can actually do from their devices, you know, what they can download, what they can access. And those are other things that they can put in place. And of course, things like encrypting data, both at rest and when it's transferred, these are all things that, that really need to be thought through well with a bring-your-own-device policy. Another thing is really just around starting to weave it into the employee experience, so making sure that it's very seamless, that it's very connected. So if you are filling out an expense report from your phone on your device, but then you transition to another device, you know, how do you make sure that that's all connected, that you can pick up where you left off? And so just making it, you know, a completely seamless digital experience, no matter what device you're on. And that's great for Workday because we're obviously a cloud enterprise software provider.
Berea Schaffer: I think the last thing is really around thinking about that end-to-end employee experience and starting to kind of understand how you can best leverage mobile to really make people more productive in their day-to-day tasks. And there is just so much opportunity that these devices have with integrations with camera, with geolocation, and there's just all sorts of unique capabilities that people can weave into their apps to really help make their businesses more efficient.
Ghadeer Redler: Yeah. Those are all really great things to consider. Let's talk about the future of mobile for a moment. If you could look into your crystal ball, where do you see the mobile experience going in the next five years? And, can you also touch a little bit about where Workday is investing in the mobile experience as well?
Berea Schaffer: Definitely. So when we think about our mobile experience, we're really trying to step back and view it from two different angles. One, mobile can really help people be more productive. And that's, again, about meeting them in their natural flow of work, making sure that they can access the information they need, and do the tasks they need from wherever they're working.
But the second piece is really around how to drive increased engagement with employees.
And our devices are so naturally engaging. One, we're on them all the time. But, two, you can use mechanisms like push notifications and other things to actually draw people in. And so when we think about our mobile experience, we are trying to figure out how to create both a more productive and engaged workplace with it. And a few of the areas that we're investing is how can we look at what employees are doing most on our-- on our mobile apps and make those top tasks really, really seamless and effortless? And so you'll see things like, you know, if you're filling out an expense report, how can we take what is quite tedious to do today and integrate with native functionality like the camera, being able to seamlessly upload, and really get that expense submitted as, as easy as possible, like you would expect to be able to do from your device. And we're gonna be applying that same logic to lots of the top tasks that people are doing on mobile.
Berea Schaffer: The second area around engagement, there's, there's a couple of things that we have an opportunity to do. First is we see a lot of people engaging in learning on their mobile phones, which is great. It was actually kind of a surprising trend for me. And when you think about how people are planning their careers, how they're finding new opportunities, a lot of that is happening on devices today. And so we are really thinking about, how can we enable growth by making the experience of searching for opportunities, whether it's inside, you know, your, your existing company with things like Career Hub, or maybe you're, you're looking for jobs from other companies. How can we make that a really seamless and easy but also engaging experience? And then how can we help understand what it is that you are looking to do in your career, the, the skills that you're looking to acquire, how you're looking to grow? And how can we start to make those interactions a lot more fun, a lot more engaging? So how can we push new opportunities to you and say, "Hey, this is something you might be interested in," or, "This learning just came available. You should think about taking it." And those are some of the things that we can do to really help make the career path and the learning experience more fun on mobile.
Berea Schaffer: And then finally, we think a lot about building connection and belonging. And we're hearing more and more, especially as people are more dispersed than ever, that employees don't feel like they're getting enough communication from their workplaces. And you always have your phone in your pocket, and so if you need information, the best place to send it is there. And so we're trying to think about, how can we make sure that we are helping companies communicate needed information to employees and keep them up to date? But we're also thinking about connections between employees and their peers. And there's a lot of communications that are happening around things like schedules or shift swapping. And how can we think about really bringing those into the app experience in a very natural way - we're used to doing those types of things on our phones already - and really helping people kind of drive those connections, build that belonging, build that community with their workplaces.
Ghadeer Redler: That's some really exciting new technology to come. With all of the new technology that is on the rise, what personally gets you excited? What are you most looking forward to seeing in the mobile app space?
Berea Schaffer: Yeah. There's two things I think that, that I think are really innovative and cool to experiment with. And the first is actually around augmented reality on our devices and just thinking about how that could really change training and learning and just become so much more immersive than it is today. A couple examples come to mind. One would be you're a retail associate, and you can actually use AR-based training to see how you might put together an endcap or a display. That's pretty amazing. That's pretty powerful. Or we're also seeing things like, manufacturing training is-- you know, can come to your device and can actually show you how to repair a part. All of that is just really exciting and amazing. And people are already starting to use that in the workplace today.
Berea Schaffer: The other one that I think is really interesting for Workday and in the realm of deskless workers is around really rich push notifications that are actionable. And so one use case example there would be I am an hourly employee who has to check in for work. I walk through the door, and I'm maybe automatically checked in, or I get a push notification that says, "Hey, looks like you're at work. Do you want to check in?" I think opportunities like that are really exciting. And we're also looking at things like widgets, which have become very popular. They sit on the home screen of your device. You don't even have to log in. Maybe that could show you your schedule information. So I think those types of opportunities are, are really amazing, and it'll be interesting to see what we can do to, you know, make people's lives easier, so.
Ghadeer Redler: Yeah. I, I know I hold my home screen widgets close to my heart, so excited to see how it plays out in the professional space as well. Well, Berea, thanks again for joining me today. I've really enjoyed our conversation and having you on The Workday Podcast. For those of you listening, if you'd like to hear more, please subscribe.