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How tech and data will change HR in 2017

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During 2017, we expect to see HR departments turn to technology to automate more of their work and to become more data-driven in their decision-making. ANJA VAN BEEK, of Sage outlines six trends.

Some of the key trends for this year are as follows:

1.     The mobile device will the HR department’s most imperative touchpoint

From recruiting talent to interacting with employees, the mobile phone is becoming the most important HR touchpoint for job candidates, employees, managers and other stakeholders. Today’s employees and jobseekers want it to be as convenient and easy to deal with an employer as it is to bank online or via a mobile app. Employers who want to attract young talent should make sure that their online job advertising and application processes are seamless, convenient and optimised for mobile devices.

Many companies already allow employees to use mobile apps to file expense reports and leave applications, change personal details, and access their payslips. In future, employees will increasingly access career and training information, performance feedback, and other important data from mobile apps. Such apps must be attractive, easy to use, and functional so that users will love coming back to them.

Managers will also want to be able to access information such as performance reviews from their smartphones.

2.     Data will drive decision-making

HR is about to change dramatically with data analytics becoming a way of life for HR directors and HR managers.

As HR professionals have more data (gathered through digital interfaces like employee self-service) about employees and the business at their fingertips than ever before; they will begin to use analytics to make better decisions and to shape superior employee experiences.

Data will help HR and the business to answer questions such as:

·         Where did we find the best hires for our business, i.e. top performers who have we retained for a good while?

·         How many people will we need in our service department to support our forecasted revenue growth of 10% for the next financial year?

·         What are the possible reasons for high employee turnover in the call centre?

·         What skills gaps do we have in our organisation?

3.     Integrated HR systems will stretch from recruitment to performance management

We are seeing the worlds of payroll, HR and business management solutions move closer together as organisations adopt integrated solutions to gain better control over their workforce costs and create stronger engagement with employees. One benefit lies in the fact that data and transactions don’t need to be captured multiple times across different business applications.

In addition, such systems give HR teams a complete view of their relationships with employees, from on-boarding to engagement, talent development and performance management. This empowers HR to react to the needs of the workforce and the business in a more agile manner.

4.     Performance management is changing

We have seen a lot of discussion in the past year or two about the value of annual performance reviews, and many large organisations around the world have streamlined performance management or even done away with annual reviews. Though I don’t foresee most companies scrapping annual reviews, I expect that performance management will change to cater for a changing work world.

We’ll see companies give employees feedback more frequently, perhaps each month or even each week, rather than once a year. This will help managers and employers to constantly monitor performance, identify challenges and opportunities and recalibrate employees’ alignment with its strategic objective. Annual reviews are useful in this regard, but they’re not frequent enough in a business world where the pace of change is so fast.

5.     Online recruitment will continue to take over

Recent research by the Society of Human Resource Management shows that in the past five years, recruitment using social media has increased by 54%, with one out of five candidates applying for a job through social channels.

There are many tools that can streamline the recruitment process, from managing job applicants and filtering CVs, to interviewing and screening candidates, and right up to the on-boarding process. Though the human touch will always be important in HR, companies will extend their tools such as online applicant tracking, talent communities, social media and internal career portals.

Online platforms such as Sage SkillsMap give organisations direct access to people in Africa and abroad who are looking for jobs, as well as the tools they need to publish their jobs to the Web and track the applications they receive. These tools help automate a lot of the paperwork for them, while providing access to high-quality candidates.

6.     Employer branding will be a focus

According to a recent EY Sub-Saharan Talent Trends and Practices Survey, the strength of the employer brand is the most important factor in attracting talent. Companies must focus on creating a positive culture; a quality workplace and a good employee experience since employees value this as much as they do money. Given that top professionals in most fields can choose where they work, employers need to sell their workplace experience and the benefits they offer to employees with as much enthusiasm as marketing departments sell the company’s products and services.

* Anja van Beek, Vice President for People (HR), Sage International (Africa, Middle East, Asia & Australia)

 

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Small South African town goes smartphone-only

Vodacom partners with farming business to upgrade all residents of Wakkerstroom from 2G devices to smartphones

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All residents of the small town of Wakkerstroom, which straddles Mpumalanga and kwaZulu-Natal provinces, have had their 2G feature phones upgraded to 3G devices.

The initiative is a result of Vodacom partnering with BPG Langfontein, a farming business that employs the majority of the people living in Wakkerstroom. It is now the first smartphone-only town in South Africa. This is a model the network provider says it hopes to replicate across the country as part of its mission to connect people who live in deep rural areas and are still dependent on 2G networks.

Wakkerstroom, is the second oldest town in Mpumalanga province, on the KwaZulu-Natal border, 27 km east of Volksrust and 56 km south-east of Amersfoort.  

“There are growing expectations for big corporates the size of Vodacom to serve a social purpose, and for us to use our resources and core capabilities to make a significant contribution in transforming the lives of ordinary people,” says Zakhele Jiyane, Managing Executive for Vodacom Mpumalanga. “We are helping to remove communication barriers, so that citizens in the area can be part of the digital revolution and reap the associated benefits. By moving the more than 1400 farm workers from 2G to 3G devices, this will also free much needed spectrum and this spectrum can be re-farmed to provide for faster networks such as 3G and 4G.

“Crucially, the move opens a new world of connectivity for farm workers in Wakkerstroom. As a result, most people in the area will now be able to use the Vodacom network to connect on the net and access online government services, eHealth services such as Mum&Baby and eCommerce. Learners can now surf the internet for the first time and access Vodacom’s eSchool free of charge and those who are actively looking for jobs can start using their smartphones and tablets to apply for jobs over the internet on Vodacom’s zero-rated career sites. This will be key for driving growth to the benefit of people living in this area.”

Vodacom has already deployed 4G base stations in Wakkestroom as part of this initiative.

For the next phase of this project, says Vodacom, it is going to educate the farm workers about data and the benefits of the Internet. Vodacom will also look at various ways in which it can help empower members of this community in areas of education, gender-based violence and health.

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10 more African countries join Facebook fact-checking

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Facebook today announced the expansion of its Third-Party Fact-Checking programme to 10 additional African countries, which now join  Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon and Senegal in the project,

In partnership with Agence France-Presse (AFP), the France 24 Observers, Pesa Check and Dubawa, this programme forms part of its work in helping assess the accuracy and quality of news people find on Facebook, whilst reducing the spread of misinformation on its platform.

Working with a network of fact-checking organizations, certified by the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network, third-party fact-checking will now be available in Ethiopia, Zambia, Somalia and Burkina Faso through AFP, Uganda and Tanzania through both Pesa Check and AFP, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d’Ivoire through the France 24 Observers and AFP, Guinea Conakry through the France 24 Observers, and Ghana through Dubawa.

Feedback from the Facebook community is one of many signals Facebook uses to raise potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review. Local articles will be fact-checked alongside the verification of photos and videos. If one of our fact-checking partners identifies a story as false, Facebook will show it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution.

Kojo Boakye, Facebook Head of Public Policy, Africa, said: “The expansion of third-party fact-checking to now cover 15 countries in a little over a year shows firsthand our commitment and dedication to the continent, alongside our recent local language expansion as part of this programme. Taking steps to help tackle false news on Facebook is a responsibility we take seriously, we know misinformation is a problem, and these are important steps in continuing to address this issue. We know that third-party fact-checking alone is not the solution, it is one of many initiatives and programmes we are investing in to help to improve the quality of information people see on Facebook. While we’ve made great progress, we will keep investing to ensure Facebook remains a place for all ideas, but not for the spread of false news.”

When third-party fact-checkers fact-check a news story, Facebook will show these in Related Articles immediately below the story in News Feed. Page Admins and people on Facebook will also receive notifications if they try to share a story or have shared one in the past that’s been determined to be false, empowering people to decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share.

Providing fact-checking in English and French across eight countries, Phil Chetwynd, AFP Global News Director said: “AFP is delighted to be expanding its fact-checking project with Facebook. We are known for the high quality of our journalism from across Africa and we will be leveraging our unparalleled network of bureaus and journalists on the continent to combat misinformation.”

Eric Mugendi, Managing Editor from Pesa Check who will provide fact-checking services in Swahili and English added: “Social networks like Facebook haven’t just changed how Africans consume the news. Social media is often the primary access to digital content or the ‘Internet’ for many Africans. They shape our perceptions of the world, our public discourse, and how we interact with public figures. This project helps us dramatically expand our fact-checking to debunk claims that could otherwise cause real-world harm. The project helps us respond more quickly and directly. We’re seeing real positive results in our interactions with both publishers and the public itself. The project also helps our fact-checks reach a far larger audience than we would otherwise. This has helped us better understand the information vacuum and other viral dynamics that drive the spread of false information in Africa. Our growing impact is a small but tangible contribution to better informed societies in Africa.”

Caroline Anipah, Programme Officer, Dubawa (Ghana) said: “Dubawa is excited to be in Ghana where the misinformation and disinformation have become widespread as a result of technological advancement and increasing internet penetration. Dubawa intends to raise the quality of information available to the public with the ultimate aim of curbing the spread of misinformation and disinformation and promoting good governance and accountability.”

Derek Thomson, editor-in-chief of the France 24 Observers, said: “Our African users are constantly sending us questionable images and messages they’ve received via social media, asking us ‘Is this true? Can you check it?’ It’s our responsibility as fact-checking journalists to verify the information that’s circulating, and get the truth back out there. Participating in the Facebook programme helps ensure that our fact-checks are reaching the people who shared the false news in the first place.”

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