HR, There’s an App for That – and Google, Microsoft and Amazon Employees are Users


“HR is not your friend.”

Heard that one before?

In a time when HR abuses and negligences are receiving significant amounts of attention across all industries, the trust that the American workforce has for HR has suffered substantially in recent years.

In particular, the increased focus placed on gender discrimination in the workplace has played a key role in the deterioration of HR’s credibility. From a lawsuit accusing Nike of systemic gender discriminationOpens a new window to the highly publicized problems faced by women at Uber (which has become the focal point for a federal investigationOpens a new window ), human resources has fast become a villain in the eyes of the public.

And this is more than just an HR problem. It’s organizational.

When HR is perceived as failing to adequately represent staff, it is often seen as a reflection of management’s lack of loyalty to its workers. Perhaps that’s why executive teams and HR departments have prioritized improving their credibility over the past few years.

Indeed, the 2018 Edelman Trust BarometerOpens a new window – an annual study of the trust and credibility in companies, people and institutions – found that building trust is the number one priority for CEOs across the globe. Meanwhile, the report also revealed – surprisingly – that employer trust in the US is up 15% from 2017.

And yet, as we hear about the despicable sexual harassment perpetrated by the Matt Lauers, Les Moonves and Harvey Weinsteins of the world – and, critically, the failure by the responsible HR departments to respond accordingly to the various accusations made throughout the years – employees are increasingly exploring other avenues to air their grievances and find potential solutions to their problems at the office.

Embracing apps to build trust and credibility

While social media, blogs and employment websites are highlighting and amplifying workplace issues, fast-growing apps like BlindOpens a new window have created an entirely new platform for America’s workforce to discuss and vent anonymously on what they don’t like about their organizations.

Users of these apps on average make negative declarations about HR, which makes sense considering that they’re using the app rather than appealing to their HR representatives for support.

In fact, according to a survey of Blind’s users, seven out of 10 employees distrust HR.

Although this is a worrisome statistic, it should be noted that it is based on answers from respondents who are on an app specifically designed for people who feel let down by their employer.

Nevertheless, it is still a sobering figure given that Blind has some 40,000 users from Microsoft, 20,000 from Amazon and nearly 10,000 from Google, among users from thousands of other companies.

Rather than view such apps as a threat to HR, they can be embraced to help improve company credibility.

Complaints on a platform like Blind, or similarly on the online job board and employee forum Glassdoor, which hosts a database of anonymous employee reviews, can enlighten HR teams on where they need most improvement.

Meanwhile, other new apps such as BravelyOpens a new window and We Said EnoughOpens a new window can help make reporting issues easier for employees. These tools use algorithms or even outsource some HR responsibilities to third parties that can, without bias, handle worker grievances, or offer advice on how to deal with a particular issue.

Crucially, all of these platforms promise complete anonymity.

An obvious key benefit of integrating this technology into an HR stack is that it can empower employees to feel more comfortable reporting a problem instead of fearing reprisal for coming forward. That’s a significant factor considering that 46% of people who dealt with a “difficult situation” at work actually left their job as a result.

Not only can this new wave of HR tech build trust and help employeess feel empowered to speak up, integrating the apps into a company’s operations also shows staff a commitment to improving HR’s handling of workplace issues.

Bravely, for instance, can host companies’ conduct guides and harassment policies, making them easily accessible. Similarly, another fledgling app, tEQuitable, offers a suite of legal resources and advice for an individual struggling to handle a difficult workplace situation.

Many of these platforms also offer management access to quarterly reports with updates on feedback fielded across organizational teams.

Some HR officers may fear the idea of outsourcing aspects of their job to apps. They shouldn’t.

Using such tools will only improve HR services, making them more robust and dynamic, and allowing HR officers to focus on arguably the most important aspect of their job: the human element.