When EDS took over Tritec, the former Social Welfare IT department, the former government employees were anxious about what might happen once they were working for a large US multinational.
Their fears were allayed somewhat when a computer linked to an EDS intranet from the US was able to tell staff about the firm and its operations, and “allowed an airing of worries”, says HR specialist Cam Brinsdon.
Brinsdon, a former EDS HR strategy manager and a director of Christchurch-based consultancy Sayce Human Resources, which specialises in HR intranets, says HR portals have to be fun as well as informative if staff are to use them and get the most out of them. He says companies are increasingly putting their HR manuals online, but these can be dull.
“It is better to have things in terms of events. Instead of ordinary guidelines on pregnancy, what about saying ‘gosh, my staff members are pregnant, what do they and we do?’ and have a series of links.”
Brinsdon says it’s silly having someone new sitting at a PC for days wondering what to do. “Use the intranet as a treasure hunt, with a list of things for them to do — find out such and such about somebody, go for coffee with somebody. Make it interesting and fun, increase the satisfaction of working for the organisation,” he says.
“I am a big fan of visual information, having content about people, not a list of CVs. For a geographically dispersed organisation, if you look at a picture of someone while talking to them, it is easier to have a conversation,” he says.
Brinsdon also advises firms developing their own intranet and HR portal to look for free sources of content, particularly as New Zealand’s dominant small and medium-sized firms now developing their own portals do not have the same resources as the big boys.
For example, he says, Britain’s Department of Trade and Industry offers best practice on performance reviews, the Employment Relations Service has guidelines on employment best practice, and the Project Management Institute has useful content.
“Why pay a HR adviser? [You can also] avoid wasting money rewriting other copy. Just link to it and say what doesn’t apply,” Brinsdon says.