Whether you are a salaried white-collar desk worker or an hourly blue-collar laborer, innovative companies that offer HR benefits, policies, and tech are changing the ways we work. While AI is already impacting some key HR functions such as hiring, a pervasive trend has transformed all aspects of HR: the ubiquitous use of mobile applications. 

Kimberly McNeil, an HR knowledge adviser for the Society for Human Resource Management, describes AI as the “elephant in the room” and the “new kid on the block.” However, she says every element of HR—from how employees enlist in benefits to how they schedule their shifts and advance their careers—can now be done on a mobile device. 

“Most employees feel more comfortable on their phones,” says McNeil. “It’s just where we are as a society. Even in my own personal life, I very seldom fire up a computer. Everything happens on either a phone or a tablet.”

Alice, Carrot, and Cleo—all winners on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list in the human resources category—have mobile apps. If an employee benefit company doesn’t offer an application, it’s “almost dead in the water,” says McNeil. “If employees need quick access to benefit information when emergencies arise, a [mobile app] is going to be the number one way they get it.”

And innovative companies are offering user-friendly mobile applications for sectors of the economy that have historically been overlooked. For instance, approximately 70% of the U.S. workforce holds in-person frontline jobs, and 73% of these employees are still forced to use paper forms.

Now, Yoobic lets frontline workers use their phones to assess in-store task checklists, onboard, upskill, and fill out employee surveys. Plus, Gusto allows small-business owners to control payroll, HR, and benefits from the palms of their hands, and ShiftKey’s mobile app connects healthcare professionals with open shifts at facilities in their area.

Of course, “employers and HR professionals should definitely be thinking about AI,” says McNeil. “When cellphones and mobile devices became big, there were initial apprehensions, but [AI] is here, we’ve got to embrace it. We are the gatekeepers in terms of [assessing] things like privacy, safety, and biases.”

If the growth of mobile phones is any indicator, she may be right. 

Explore the full 2024 list of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies, 606 organizations that are reshaping industries and culture. We’ve selected the firms making the biggest impact across 58 categories, including advertising, artificial intelligence, design, sustainability, and more.

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24 thoughts on “The most innovative HR companies are embracing AI. They’re also mobile-first”
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