Life after Electronic Forms

By Fields, Randall K. | Chief Executive (U.S.), June 1996 | Go to article overview

Life after Electronic Forms


Fields, Randall K., Chief Executive (U.S.)


So your company recently installed an electronic forms software program, and you're feeling pretty good about easing your human resources department's workload while saving a few trees in the process. As a bonus, your new central HR system also helps track and maintain voluminous personnel records. OK, you now can turn your attention to another part of your business, right?

Not so fast. This is just the first step toward revamping your HR department, and the only one taken so far by most companies. But in today's world of rightsizing, downsizing, re-engineering-call it what you will-business survival depends on "lean and mean" operations that achieve strategic goals with minimum resources. For the oft-maligned HR department, that requires integrating a lean work force and mean, high-payback technologies to both eliminate administrative burdens and support strategic objectives such as screening, engaging, and managing a stable productive work force.

Taco Bell, for instance, has found that stores with the lowest employee turnover have twice as many sales and 55 percent higher profits than stores with the highest turnover. Thus, implementing a software system that can evaluate potential employees and help avoid a hiring mistake can have just as long-term a payback as any finite marketing initiative.

A major Midwest retailer can attest to that. Within three years of automating and retooling its human resources department in 1992, the company has increased sales from $300 million to $733 million, and doubled its number of stores to 800 across 44 states-opening an average of one new store every three days.

Holding the line at just 15 HR professionals to service more than 8,500 employees working all over the country, this company had to be innovative about taking advantage of technology. In addition to eliminating paperwork as much as possible with electronic forms, it now uses advanced systems to automate initial applicant screening, employee training, skills assessment, and proficiency testing. For example,

new assistant managers receive two weeks of training delivered via a mix of computer-based training, instructional videos, and traditional one-on-one methods. Two weeks are allowed for knowledge assimilation. Then, a computer-based skills assessment is performed. If a problem is spotlighted, the trainee gets another two weeks to work on bolstering his or her skill levels. …

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