“For a while now we’ve been hearing about companies that say, sure an intranet would be great but it wouldn’t be worth it since most of our employees don’t have a computer,” says Sandy French, president of the internal communication firm Northern Lights.
Kiosks are a solution that has been growing in popularity for companies that want to take advantage of the benefits of a connected workforce, but lack the infrastructure and the hardware to get everybody online.
It’s now an option that previously had not been explored, says French. Three or four years ago the whole concept of putting HR on the intranet and having people access their benefits online was way out there. “But it’s not so innovative anymore,” he says. “It used to be dismissed out of hand now it’s ‘tell me more.’” Kiosks are a natural next step.
But companies looking to go this route have a number of issues to consider up front:
•”Number one is confidentiality,” says Brad Breininger, vice-president of strategy and creative for Northern Lights. People need to feel comfortable about accessing personal information on kiosks and that isn’t always possible if the kiosk is sitting out in the middle of the shop floor.
•Ultimately, kiosks are a high-tech communication tool that will require, on a very practical level, close co-operation between communications, HR and the IT department.
•Don’t expect to save a lot of money right away because there will be considerable startup costs, but down the road there should be savings in terms of a reduction of administration, printing and design costs. Companies are well-advised to study the business case. At one point is it more cost-effective to buy employees systems to go online at home, says French.
•Culture will also be an issue. “You can’t just flick the switch and everybody goes to the kiosks,” says French. Expect some pushback and resistance because it will take time for employees to get accustomed to using the new tool.