European employees can’t do enough basic HR admin online

Many administrative HR tasks are still not completed electronically across European workplaces

27 février 2019

Despite living in a mobile-first world, employees across Europe say they can’t do enough basic HR admin tasks on mobile devices and many still do them offline. On average, only 10% of HR admin tasks are possible on mobile devices only and 58% is still completed offline. These are the results of a new survey from leading provider of global payroll and HR services, SD Worx, which looks into the extent of the digitisation of the workplace.
The report found that just 9% of European employees submit expenses only on mobile, while half of those surveyed are still submitting expenses non-electronically. Requesting leave is the most popular administrative task to be completed digitally, with 12% doing so by mobile only, a further 12% completing the job through both fixed and mobile devices and 26% by fixed devices only. Despite mobile only scoring low, it’s promising to see that software use is higher for tasks that are applicable to all employees.

Of all surveyed HR administration tasks, only 20% on average can be done on mobile and too many HR admin tasks can still only be done on paper. Considering that the average person checks their phone about 50 times a day, mobile options would be expected to be more ingrained in the work environment. Not being able to do things digitally can have a huge impact on an organisation and its people. Employees will spend too long on HR admin tasks, preventing them from completing more valuable work and ultimately having a negative impact on employee engagement. 

Digital disconnect

The lack of online options for such everyday HR admin tasks has been noticed by employees across Europe. There is a disconnect between what they can currently do electronically at work versus what they would like to do. For example, only 47% of those surveyed are able to submit a sick note electronically, yet 64% would like to have the opportunity to do so. The gap is the smallest when it comes down to requesting and arranging business travel. 44% of employees can currently do this digitally, with 49% stating that they would like to be able to. 

Employees want to do more digitally

What people have the option to do digitally in terms on HR admin differs greatly depending on location. For example, 66% of those surveyed in the Netherlands can currently submit expenses online, whereas in Germany only 33% can. When it comes to requesting and arranging business travel, 55% of employees in the UK are able to do it digitally, compared to only 36% in Belgium.

Germany ranks considerably lower out of the countries surveyed across nearly all the categories suggesting that there is some way to go in terms of digitally transforming the workplace. The UK and The Netherlands consistently tend to come out on top across the activities that employees can currently do digitally. 

Germany has a huge opportunity with workplace tech

Despite employees across all countries being keen in general to work digitally, surprisingly employees in Germany don’t rank the highest in terms of tasks they would like to do electronically. In fact, employees in Germany appear to be the least concerned out of the six countries. For example, 65% of employees in the UK would like to request a change in working time (such as part-time, parental leave) digitally, whereas that’s only important to 44% of those surveyed in Germany. 

The UK generally had the highest number of respondents wanting the ability to do more tasks digitally at work. This would suggest that the more access people have to carry out work electronically, the more they want to see their options increase in the workplace. 

Steven Van Hoorebeke, CEO of SD Worx Group comments: “Nearly all areas of our lives have been changed by technology. While it’s been the case in our personal lives for some time now, in some instances it’s been slow to take hold in the workplace. As seen in this report, employees want to be able to carry out basic HR admin on mobile but they are not always given the opportunity to do so. In order to keep employees engaged and productive, it is vital for employers to listen to these concerns and adapt to this new way of working.”

About the survey

The Europe LTD survey is a questionnaire on one hundred work-related aspects relevant to employee satisfaction, motivation, involvement and engagement. Since 2009, the survey has been carried out annually among 2,500 Belgian employees under the name NV Belgium. Because of its international growth, SD Worx expanded this survey in 2017 to include Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria and the United Kingdom. It concerns 500 employees each time. 

The sample is representative of the specific local labour markets, with the same composition as to statute ((blue-collar) workers, office workers and civil servants), gender, region, work regime, language, educational degree and organisation size as that of the active labour population in the countries concerned.