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HR gets an upgrade

Published on Friday, 16 Nov 2012
Rebecca Cheung
Managing director, cut-e China
David Barker
Managing director, The Learning Eye
Andreas Lohff,
Managing director, cut-e Group

New technology is prompting rapid change in the world of human resources and a host of new opportunities are in turn being created. Many of the more significant developments will be presented at a half-day seminar, titled “Innovation in Talent Assessment, Learning and Development”, on November 22.

The event will present HR professionals with the very latest industry information and insights and, almost certainly, prompt a thorough review of their own organisations’ current tools and practices.

The importance of moving on from traditional thinking and methods to better serve the needs of today’s mobile, online workforce will be highlighted. The seminar will also outline how individual companies – whatever their size or sector – can create a customised platform which allows them to train, update and support staff at different levels and in different parts of the world.

“The corporate approach to learning, assessment and development is still quite traditional at the moment,” says Rebecca Cheung, managing director of cut-e China, a key organiser of the event. “We want to show that with the right technology platform and a clear understanding of a company’s competency requirements, it is possible to provide easy-to-use solutions which enhance employee development.”

Cheung says that many companies still hold classroom training sessions to update technicians, engineers and sales teams. Nowadays, though, with ready access to handheld devices, broadband downloads and high-quality graphics, the same learning outcome can be achieved as quickly, and more cost effectively, in other ways.

“Online training gives greater flexibility and materials can include videos, animation and simulations,” Cheung says. “That makes it stimulating and engaging, and is available to anyone at any time.”

Once it is accepted that the power and reach of technology can rewrite standard HR practices, new thinking and more opportunities will emerge.

Andreas Lohff, the Germany-based managing director of the cut-e Group and one of the main speakers at the seminar, will focus attention on smarter ways of identifying and assessing talent.

His specialist area is psychometrics and, most relevantly, how well-structured tests make for better staff selection and development. These tests, researched and delivered with the help of tailor-made technology, can be used across career levels to pinpoint specific strengths and aptitudes.

“Psychometric tests have excellent predictive validity for various roles, provided you use tools that are properly designed and researched,” Lohff says.

“Technology has really changed the way we assess people. It does not replace interviews or behavioural assessments, but does make the process far more efficient, while being easily scalable and fast to implement.”

Lohff adds that such cutting-edge tools help to accurately predict first-time success in technical and frontline roles, which has obvious commercial significance. Initial results then provide a firm basis for future assessment, training and personal-development plans.

Another expert lined up for the seminar is David Barker, managing director of The Learning Eye, which advises firms on customised e-learning and mobile education.

He is quick to stress that while the old-style “chalk and talk” approach to staff training may still have its place, employers should accelerate the shift towards e-learning and also “we learning”, which focuses on teamwork and what organisations can do to beat the competition.

This has wide-ranging implications for recruitment, retention, costs and the basic effectiveness of a business.

“Companies must find a way to deal with converging pressures caused by the ubiquitous rise of the internet, multiple new devices, and changing employee expectations,” Barker says. “With all that and against the backdrop of the recession, there is real pressure on organisations to change the way they train. This is what I will focus on.”

He says that finding the right solutions for different companies and cultures boils down to three things: the content of training courses, the style of delivery and the technology used to deliver material. The technology used is an important consideration – 3D graphics, for example, may look great on a laptop, but will not mean much to a field engineer with a smartphone somewhere in rural China.

“When advising clients, our aim is to provide the right mix in the right measure,” Barker says. “At the seminar I’ll explain what it takes to choose suitable technology and build a good platform, and what to consider for different languages and cultures.”

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