Best HR Ideas: HR Technology

This article is part of HRE's Best HR Ideas for 2011

Tuesday, March 1, 2011
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Management Central Site

CA Technologies, Islandia, N.Y.

Over the years, management training at CA Technologies left something to be desired. The company conducted classroom-style sessions in just a handful of courses that could be taught by only a select few instructors, says Tracy Dodd, vice president of global education. Oftentimes, managers didn't even know the training was available.

Times have certainly changed.

Since September, the company has been featuring its Management Central site (built on a SharePoint platform), which uses social-networking tools such as blogs, rating systems, virtual classrooms, discussion forums, document posting, videos and real-time Q&A.

Each of CA's 2,500 managers can create a profile called "MySite" with a bio and photos, and have access to learning opportunities across the world.

"Having the ability to network and share and learn with peers, many of whom are not in the same location and you don't see on a daily basis, is great," says Dodd. "It's the wisdom of the collective. Anything we can do to foster that connection makes everybody more productive." 

So far, more than 2,300 managers have created profiles and it has had more than 3,000 hits (as of press time), according to CA. Employees overwhelmingly approved, saying the classes will help them do their jobs better. Dodd says she hopes managers can take what they learned and put it into practice, creating a new corporate culture where learning is paramount. 

CASS Connect

Corporate Administration and Shared Services,

Hewlett-Packard Co., Palo Alto, Calif.

Few things turn off employees more than asking for their opinions and then ignoring them. That isn't a problem at Hewlett-Packard's Corporate Administration and Shared Services organization, which is a globally dispersed collection of six different HP business units.

In an employee survey, workers asked for career-development and career-opportunities information to be more accessible -- and "we heard loud and clear," says Jennifer Hedding, vice president of HR at CASS.

Weekly e-mails and downloadable desktop wallpaper remind workers to check the CASS Connect website every week for new success stories of CASS employees in a wide variety of roles across all levels.

In addition, the program offers a career-planning checklist, a mentoring-connection function, "learnings" and other tools that can be used for career assessments, career development and career conversations with supervisors and mentors, she says.

More than 400 employees were featured in 2010 after the program was created in April, and 100 percent of CASS employees visited the site at least once. More than 2,000 workers downloaded the desktop wallpaper, and the new Voice of the Workforce survey showed an 11-percent increase in the number of employees who said the company used the previous survey results "to make improvements."

"It's been very successful," Hedding says. "We have the highest engagement scores in the company."


Cerner Corp., Kansas City, Mo.

Innovations and new discoveries occur all the time inside organizations. But how can you shorten the time between when those discoveries are made and when the results will accrue to the company in terms of increased customer satisfaction or more efficient internal processes?

Cerner Corp., a health-technology company, wanted to speed up that time, so it implemented UCern, a virtual learning center designed to do just that.

"We created UCern to reduce the time between discovery and adoption," says Robert Campbell, who described it last September during a panel on social media and learning at the 2010 HR Technology® Conference in Chicago.

UCern consists of threaded discussion lists, a point system that lets users rate the quality of contributions to those discussions, embedded videos and wikis, he says. When employees need the answer to a question, rather than searching for someone within their workgroup who can help them, they can access the discussion lists or the archived discussions for their particular topic.

Solutions to vexing problems can be posted on wikis located on the company's intranet, says Campbell, which are available in "published" and "draft" versions.

Material posted on published wikis has been verified for accuracy by the company's experts; material on draft wikis has not yet been verified and is "use at your own risk," he says.

Either way, it's drastically shortened the time the company previously needed to document and publish information for employees and customers.

Delta Talent Acquisition

GE Transportation's Intelligent Control Systems, Paris

Even for an industry as insulated and specialized as rail-signaling systems, GE Transportation's Delta strategy was audacious: to establish industrywide leadership in two new market segments -- urban transit and regional-rail markets -- within seven years.

So, it was no surprise that the challenge this placed on HR was similarly awesome: to attract the best experts in the market within a period of 10 months, and to build a team of 80 of them based in France, Italy and Singapore.

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Because highly experienced and specialized railway engineers are difficult to attract, GE and an external partner launched a website to inform them about the company's ambition, including short informational videos from the main business leaders of the Delta strategy. Since its launch last May, more than 8,000 unique visitors viewed the site, and approximately 1,200 job applications were received.

An international HR team was formed to identify, screen and shortlist the talent. Now, validated candidates get contract proposals in less than a week after the interview and contracts get to candidates within days of agreements.

Since May, more than 60 engineering experts have been onboarded in France, Italy and Singapore. "The speed of HR action has been a convincing argument for lots of candidates," says Karl Vansteenkiste, a project HR and mobilization manager. 

IBM HRThinkFuture

IBM Corp., Armonk, N.Y.

The ability to leverage social networking is growing as vendors add more platforms to HR technology systems -- but Randy MacDonald, the CHRO at IBM, is a step ahead. To ensure HR plays a strategic role in IBM's future, MacDonald convened a "jam" -- a global, virtual dialogue using IBM technology.

HR brainstormed with internal and external thought leaders and created real-time webcasts of live events held within a 24-hour period in Brussels, Beijing, Bangalore and Yorktown Heights, N.Y.

Each session was devoted to a single HR topic relating to work and the future, and speakers came from IBM, academia, business, journalism and industry. Nearly 800 people attended the live events, more than 1,000 viewed the live webcasts and another 2,000 watched video replays. IBM has about 3,000 HR professionals of a total workforce of nearly 400,000.

Following that was a 72-hour virtual dialogue that drew 2,700 registered participants, generating more than 3,500 posts, including ideas from CEO Sam Palmisano and other IBM executives.

Five teams of high-achieving global HR professionals and seasoned HR mentors then explored some of the ideas, to be used for strategic planning and implementation over the next decade. Ideas focused on innovative workforce models, leadership for the next era, instrumented workforce, new approaches to performance and recognition, and measuring future greatness.

"I see ThinkFuture as a real competitive advantage for the function," MacDonald said following the jam. 

See the:

Best HR Ideas Intro

Best HR Ideas in Benefits

Best HR Ideas in Talent Management

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