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Second-generation technology making HR professionals even better finding, promoting workers

Wednesday, August 6, 2008
The non-human element
Second-generation technology making HR professionals even better finding, promoting workers
Jacksonville Business Journal - by William Marden Correspondent
Dealing with the people who make any company run has always been one of the greatest challenges in business.
Technology continues to radically transform the way human resources departments recruit, evaluate, promote and manage people. But as effective as technology is, humans will always be integral to human resources.
Still, a lot has changed. Elaine Waples, director of human resources for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Inc. in Jacksonville, can remember when HR professionals kept files with paper and pencil. "Locating records and keeping them sorted under that old system was very time-consuming," she said.
Technology has been welcomed, said Barbara Schneider, director of staff sourcing at Oasis Outsourcing, which provides payroll and benefits services for company work forces around the country.
The kind of work Schneider's and Waples' HR departments do would be physically impossible without computer technology.
As Waples said: "We are becoming a paperless record system. The administrative, repetitive types of jobs you needed to sort and locate records, you don't need anymore."
"You can do the same jobs with fewer people," she said.
That said, technology hasn't removed the human element. In recruiting, for example, "you still have a need for that face-to-face component," Waples said, where a recruiter's gut instinct about an applicant counts.
Meanwhile, the technology companies that supply the human resources software and services have undergone serious consolidation since the technology revolution began in the 1990s.
Peter Cohen, vice president of product marketing with the information technology company Authoria Worldwide, said a first generation of companies selling or leasing single-use products for recruiting, evaluating or administering benefits has been winnowed down to a much smaller number of second-generation players providing HR services to meet all their clients' needs.
Still, HR officials can't rely too heavily on technology. CareerXroads Consultants partner Gerry Crispin said a new generation of employees expects to be treated differently in everything from recruiting to benefits -- and in a more personal manner.
"Employees expect to know how and why companies do things," he said. What's worse for the companies that don't yet "get it" is that this attitude is permeating upwards from 20-somethings all the way up to baby boomers.

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