We often hear about the fear of manual functions or services, traditionally performed by individuals, becoming redundant with the introduction of technological advances, including robots and self-service applications. One may wonder if this is truly a reality or just something akin to a conspiracy theory.
Recent developments in the quick service and fast casual restaurant (QSR) industry have not done much to allay these fears; with fast food giant, McDonald’s joining the ranks of Panera and others with the rollout of self-service kiosks. An article on bizjournals.com asked a similar question: Restaurants welcoming tablets, kiosks – will it cost jobs?. It was also a topic we covered last year in our blog: Will Self-Service Kiosks Eventually Replace Humans?. In our blog, we concluded with the paragraph:
As Martin Smith, Professor of Robotics at University of Middlesex, so aptly puts it in Ms. Williams’ article, “Though many fear their jobs will be taken over by machines, it is more likely that robots will be used as assistants, and the future workforce could have the benefit of avoiding hazardous and repetitive tasks rather than suffer mass redundancies.”
A great example of this is the increased use of human resource kiosks to assist in the effective management of employees and their data. These kiosks are not intended to replace the human resource function, but to assist in providing better access to and management of employees. The kiosks are usually used to provide some or all of the following:
• Company information and employee data
• Training Center
• Job Application Center
• Compliance with employment laws
The most common use of human resource kiosks is to provide employees with important and current information. It may include updates about what is happening with the company especially matters that may impact employees or their jobs. This information can be disseminated via the company intranet that can be securely accessed at the kiosk.
The kiosks also allow access to administrative forms including:
• Leave requests
• Employee manuals
• Insurance forms
• Benefits applications
• Stationery and equipment requests
• Non-urgent service requests
• Salary inquiries
It eliminates the need to have human resource employees dedicated to providing this information; instead these staff members can focus on more complex HR functions. Completion of these forms at the kiosk also ensures that employee information is always electronically updated and accessible. A great example of the use of human resource kiosks can be seen here.
It is also very important to remember that these kiosks which can be built to ensure durability, can be placed at any location, including factories and warehouses. It ensures that employees that are usually unconnected, due to the nature of their jobs and locations can also easily access information.
It is a great way to keep these workers up-to-date with their online training requirements as online modules can also be provided at the kiosk. Employees can register for traditional training classes, as well, by accessing the schedules, times and locations of training sessions that are most convenient for them to attend. It is something that is often overlooked by businesses that usually provide this information via emails which are not accessible to employees without computer workstations or via office notice boards which can easily be bypassed or overlooked. We recently completed a project to provide kiosks for a company’s Employee Health and Wellness Resource Center. Read more about it here.
Another great benefit of human resource kiosks is that although traditionally used internally for current employees, they can also provide a more efficient way to accept job applications. These applications can then be accessed online by the human resource department and stored electronically, eliminating the need for excess paperwork and storage. The kiosks can also provide information about the company or current events to potential candidates, with the use of optional overhead screens.
Human Resource departments require precise processes and systems and by law must ensure the confidentiality of employee or job applicants’ information. Kiosks allow them to provide secure, guided and self-service access of HR services to current and potential employees.
The availability of HR Guidelines as well as information related to labor laws, unions, safety, insurance and taxes at the kiosks, automatically ensures that companies are complying with employment laws and standards by informing employees of their individual benefits and rights. It’s one of the many benefits that human resource kiosks provide. But let us not forget that they also increase the productivity levels of human resource staff, reduce costs, enhance recruitment and improve employee performance.