Article

What Technology Do You Need For HR Today?

October 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Justin Spath - Also by this author

Anecdotally, we’re told that any current technology will have been superseded by something more advanced within 18 months. This statement is debatable, but we cannot deny that technology changes at a pace we can barely keep up with.

Twenty years ago, the idea of a personal computer for every employee was nothing more than a fantasy. Now, we can’t imagine anything else. Fifteen years ago, the Internet was something only scientists and programmers dealt with. Today, the Internet is ubiquitous in our lives. Ten years ago, a tiny fraction of the population used e-mail. Statistics show that today nearly 150 million of people in the United States use e-mail daily – half our population. Just five years ago, it was difficult to watch quality videos online. Today, I can do it from my cell phone.

Technology moves by leaps and bounds and most businesses, including automotive dealerships, are struggling to keep up. This month, I want to highlight the four changing technological areas that you should be spending time researching so that you can help your dealership keep its Human Resources aspects as advanced as its business operations.

1. Niche Job Boards

For years the dominant online recruiting methods were large job boards like Monster.com or HotJobs.com. The shifting paradigm of the Internet to specialization and away from generalization has caused smaller, more specifically targeted job boards to start flourishing. Job boards specializing in a specific area like accounting (Accountingboard.com), information technology (Dice.com) or sales (Salesanimal.com) are becoming the rule; not the exception. As I say in almost every article I write, recruiting is selling, so using a niche job board is like target marketing to the most likely customer. These sites can get you a more targeted candidate pool than a larger board because you’ll automatically weed out those people who don’t have the proper experience.

2. Social Networking Web sites

Places like Myspace.com, Facebook.com and Craigslist.org are getting a lot of media coverage, and rightfully so. Millions of people are visiting these sites every day to exchange ideas, contact friends and overall, just create a new form of social setting. Considering the sheer number of people on these sites and their user demographics (16-34 year old, educated, computer savvy people), it’s not unreasonable to think that some of these people are looking for good jobs you’re offering. Of these, the one I see the most potential in is Craiglist.org. Essentially nothing more than an online classified ads section with a connected community forum, Craigslist.com is widely becoming a go-to place for hiring professional-level employees. And considering that in June Craigslist.org expanded to include 100 more markets, it may be a great recruiting option for you.

3. Podcasts

Podcasts are broadcasts, audio or video, published on the Internet. While video and audio on the Internet aren’t new ideas, new software and hardware have made them a fast growing trend. The expansion of the portable digital media player, like the iPod, has caused podcasting to grow exponentially over the last two years.

How does this affect your HR department? Training. Podcasts provide a simple method of distributing information and training to your employees from both the internal and external areas. All employees need is a computer with Internet access, and they have a wealth of training opportunities at hand. And while a portable player is handy, it’s not necessary. Nearly every computer will have software installed by the manufacturer that can play podcasts.

Internally, you could create your own podcasts so that all employees could download it to their computer and listen to it as time allows. To create your own podcasts, you need nothing more that a microphone, a computer and software that is freely accessible online. You could create the same thing that you pay large amounts of money for from outside vendors that not only provides the specific content you want, but is also tailored to your current business needs.

From the external side, the Internet is already home to thousands of podcasts that you could use as training tools. A quick look at Podcast.net shows over 300 podcasts related to sales and marketing alone. Many are by top names in the field, and almost all of them are free. Browse through them, listen to a few and see if you find something you’d like your employees to hear as well.

4. Human Resource Information Systems

Think about your personnel files. How much space do they take up? Is it easy to find what you need in them? Can you compare employees’ information quickly and easily? If you could take all of those filing cabinets full of personnel files and pack them all into a box no bigger that 15 inches by 15 inches by 6 inches, wouldn’t you do it?

Convert those files into an electronic form and all of those files will easily fit into one little box that sits on your desk: your computer. That’s what a Human Resource Information System (HRIS) does for you. It collects all of your HR related information into one easily accessible place so that any personnel information you need is no more than a few keystrokes or mouse clicks away.

As I sit at my desk each day, I can open our HRIS program and access employee disciplinary or attendance records, review dates and scores, benefits information, FMLA or COBRA eligibility, training records and orientation checklists; track our turnover rate; determine which departments have the most overtime; and see what vacancies we still have to fill.

HRIS programs are not new. Different versions have been around for years. Recent changes in the way HR is strategically situated in business across the country have prompted broader and more powerful programs to be developed. If you’ve ever considered investing in a Human Resources Information System, now is the time to do so. Because each dealership is unique in what it needs, I would recommend visiting the Society for Human Resource Management’s Buyer’s Guide (http://sapphire.shrm.org/onlinebuyersguide/) for a great place to start researching what HRIS is best for you.

While I pride myself on staying knowledgeable about changes in the Human Resources field, I know that due to the rapid advancement of technology and innovation, I am missing out on numerous things. I also know the dealerships I deal with, through my current employment and due to this magazine, find themselves in the same situation. Technology inevitably outpaces everyone. What I strive for and what you should strive for is to be aware of the ideas and changes that are impacting Human Resources and to find the ideas and technology that can create a better, more productive workforce.

The four technological changes described may not be the most glamorous of ideas and may not be something that you have given much thought to, but they are things that are changing the way Human Resources works in the automotive industry. You may not have seen them in action yet, but you surely will soon. Your competitors may already be using some of them. Take the time the time to research them, and if you feel it is appropriate for your dealership, implement them so that your dealership can stay on the cutting edge of Human Resources… At least for the next 18 months.

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