Put Away the 'Spray-and-Pray' Method: Three HR Tools that Really Get their Attention

This is part of a special advertising section focusing on the talent management outlook.

Monday, April 2, 2012
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Aside from the ongoing effort to make HR operations more efficient, the highest priorities for 2012 -- according to a report from researchers McLean & Co. -- are developing leaders and improving performance. How can HR managers get the most out of their talent? We know the answer is engagement.

To get to real engagement, HR managers are turning to technology. And not just technology for better analytics and efficient processes; they're looking to use it to change employee behaviors to drive ideal outcomes.

They also know that old methods need to change. A "spray-and-pray" mentality with regards to employee communication, and a simple HR portal, just won't cut it anymore. Today, it's all about crafting the right messages to send through the right channels at the right time.

Three technologies in particular are getting a lot of attention:

* Your HR portal should be that single place for health, financial planning and career information. Today's hyper-personalized HR portals use targeted messaging, persona-driven contextual content and social-collaboration tools to make information completely relevant to the user. They also include deep links to take action.

* Employers can also deliver HR-related services through a virtual-reality environment. For example, prospective employees can find out what it's like to work at a company with a "walk-through" of the organization, or listen to and watch broadcasts to find out about the benefits the organization offers.

* Tablets and smartphones. The biggest movement in HR technology is the use of mobile tools. Today, services and information need to be delivered through handheld devices. Mobile is a way to stay connected with field employees and those whose only computer is their phone.

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To get the most from these technologies, HR managers need to think carefully about things such as how to measure effectiveness, how to manage all interactions through a customer-relationship-management tool, how to protect personal data (which includes the question of "How personal is 'too personal'? "), how employees in various demographic segments use technology and how best to deploy handheld technology.

Driving engagement is all about making people feel they are in the right place for their own future. While technology can be entertaining and have that compelling "wow factor," ultimately, it's only a tool. Building a solid program for engagement requires leadership development, a relevant rewards system and a strong sense of the corporate mission. With those principles in place, technology can then play its most persuasive role.

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