• April 2011

Why Technology Rocks Human Resources

By Barbara Mitchell
HR Expert and Co-Author
The Essential HR Handbook

HR departments across the country are looking for any edge they can find to improve service and maximize their effectiveness. Thank goodness for technology.

Of course, we need to balance being technologically advanced with maintaining the personal, people side of HR. Fortunately, many innovative organizations are striking that balance.

Following are technologies that are making the biggest impact on HR.

  • Employee self-service for benefits enrollments and personal information changes such as names, dependents, etc.
  • Career-planning software
  • Succession-planning software
  • Vendor-management systems
  • Social media for recruiting

Consider these progressive firms

Master schedulers: Del Frisco’s Steakhouse in New York City. Managing the scheduling of a staff of 175 was nothing short of a nightmare for managers until they decided to create the schedule electronically and automatically route it to employee’s cell phones. Not only does this get the schedule out quickly, the software they use is integrated with a point-of-sale system that track’s each server’s hours so that when an employee needs to change his/her schedule, that person sends a text that is routed only to servers who have not yet hit an overtime limit and the first employee to respond gets the shift. This effective solution also eliminates the potential for favoritism.

Mobile applications: Grady Health System in Atlanta. Mobile applications are being used for recruitment and other HR functions, and software is being developed for employee scheduling, performance management, and e-learning. Grady Health System, for instance, has 1,400 beds and more than 6,000 employees. Not long ago, a staff of six people did nothing but find people to fill shifts. They now use a mobile scheduling system that has allowed them to assign other duties to those people who used to spend all their time scheduling. “It can take minutes rather than hours to schedule shifts,” says assistant controller Donald Thomas.

Security specialists: Seminole Gaming Casino in Hollywood, Florida. This year, the casino launched a suite of mobile applications as part of its employee communications strategy. Employees can now access a secure website from their cell phones to receive benefits information, job postings, and information they need to get to and from work, including road closings and emergency information. The HR team is also investigating other uses of this method of communication.

And that’s not all. The size of organizations doesn’t matter — any group can benefit from maximizing technology to simplify work process in HR. A Pennsylvania firm with five employees uses cell technology to link to its payroll processor, and Lockheed Martin, a large Maryland-based firm, is using a mobile platform for its e-learning system where employees can download business and technical reference material as well as executive summaries of business books.

The bottom line

While technology is making a huge difference to HR departments that are tapping into its power, HR is also mindful not to lose the human element. We know there is no replacement for talking out employee relations issues or making a good hiring decision by careful interviewing techniques, but if technology can free HR staffs from some duties to focus on areas where personal action is needed, its presence will be a real positive.


About Barbara Mitchell

Mitchell is a human resources and organization development consultant who is widely known as an expert in the areas of recruitment and retention. She has experience in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors and has consulted to a variety of organizations around the world.

She served in senior human resources leadership positions with Marriott International and several technology firms in the Washington, DC, area before co-founding the Millennium Group International, which she sold in 2008.

Mitchell is a graduate of North Park University in Chicago, with a degree in History and Political Science. Contact Mitchell by email.

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