In the quest for 'more for less', organisations are increasingly looking to technology to enhance performance and fill skills gaps. Nothing new in some respects, but the menu of what is now available is raising interesting possibilities and dilemmas for HR professionals.
Has anyone ever sat through an explanation of Second Life without their eyebrows disappearing into their hair line? There always seems to be a mixture of scepticism, disbelief and wonderment. Who, after all, would want to wander around in a virtual world where they can buy goods and services, go to nightclubs and have relationships?
Some organisations are already using the exciting prospect of being represented at Second Life careers fairs where the characters - or avatars - of real people can wander in and get information about real jobs. There are some views that Second Life can be used as a vehicle for more sinister activities, but it would be a shame if the negatives were to outweigh the more positive aspects of what is an amazing innovation. The challenge for HR is to push at the boundaries and make it work for us.
At a recent seminar I attended, the speaker started his session by telling everyone to switch their mobile phones on. This was so that he could use Bluetooth technology to communicate with the audience in a more interactive way. People were encouraged to ask questions and comment by text as he spoke, and every once in a while a few questions would be displayed on screen for everyone to see. This was obviously only one application of the functionality of mobiles the question to the assembled delegates was then 'so how can you use it?'
The HR community was rocked a few years ago by the news that some organisations were notifying staff of redundancy by text. Maybe this was insensitive, but the other side of the coin was that the message at least got out to everyone at the same time and quickly. Already some recruitment agencies are using this kind of technology to notify temps of possible assignments.
Should texting be developed into a prime channel for staff communication and engagement? Why not? It's quick, cheap, efficient, two-way and pretty much universal - there are more mobile phones in the UK than people.