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HR must keep up with high-tech

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Many HR departments are being left behind as new technology becomes available and the job market becomes more transparent. The also need to make faster decisions as the amount of information they need to manage grows, which is creating new challenges for HR directors, writes SANDRA SWANEPOEL, MD for Sage HR & Payroll.

The world of human resources (HR) is changing at a speed that is leaving most HR departments behind. New technology is bringing more transparency into the job market and into the performance of the HR department, creating new challenges for HR directors.

It’s also changing the expectations that employees and job applicants have of the employer experience. What’s more, HR departments need to make faster decisions, even as the amount of information they need to manage grows. For   example, I know of a business that received 100,000 CVs after advertising a group of positions. Meanwhile, a volatile labour market, growing competition for scarce skills, and tighter regulation all bring with them complex and constantly evolving pressures. Line mangers and senior management are putting more pressure on HR departments to add value to the business and to serve as their strategic partners.

As a result, HR departments need to become more tech-savvy. They need to put in place systems that allow them to automate routine paperwork, make sense of growing volumes of data, and respond to the needs of the business and employees in a more agile fashion. Without technology, they will not be able to meet the demands they face.

Digging through big data

As a start, the recruitment market poses some interesting challenges for HR managers. They have access to a wider potential pool of talent, thanks to the Web and social media, but that also means that they need to be able to process more information. Here, online applicant tracking systems and career portals can be a massive help in filtering and managing data.

In much the same way as the Internet has given employers access to jobseekers, it also gives talent access to expanded employment opportunities. Let’s face it: anyone who has a CV on a career website or a profile on LinkedIn is on the job market for the right price and opportunity. It’s easier than ever for recruiters to spot great talent – which means the HR department’s job is harder when it comes to skills retention.

Engage and retain

As such, it’s also important to apply technology for engaging, managing and retaining employees. When it comes to managing staff, HR departments can gather rich data about the business and use it to analyse skills gaps, performance, costs, and more. Increasingly, HR decisions about hiring and training are driven by good information housed in HR and line of business systems.

In the background, a robust HR platform enables the HR department to capture data about employees’ key performance areas (KPAs) and indicators (KPIs), performance reviews, training and development requirements, medical history, occupational injuries, and more. This information can help the business to make better hiring and training decisions. HR directors can get better insight into trends such as staff churn, the costs of training and development, and the skills they may need to attract and develop to support the business’s future growth.

IT also has an important role to play in employee engagement. Tools such as employee self-service can reduce paperwork for the HR department while delivering better service to the workforce. When people can apply for leave, fill in expense claims and pick up payslips online or from their mobile phones, everyone wins from the gains in efficiency and convenience.

Closing words

In a world where employees are ambitious and connected, and where business has high expectations, HR departments must become more flexible and focused.

Technology is an important enabler for them, offering them the ability to streamline operations and make better decisions. And with today’s cloud-based options, it is easier and more affordable than ever for HR departments to modernise and automate the way they work.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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