Time For Foodservice to “Vocalize”

There’s a mobile epidemic occurring everywhere you turn - locally, nationally and globally. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 27 percent of US households used cell phones exclusively in the first half of 2010. Additionally, a Nielsen survey reported smartphone usage nearly tripled in the last year, especially among 18-29 year-olds where 62 percent use smartphones.


How does this connect to the foodservice industry? It means your workforce demographic is moving towards a more tech-savvy lifestyle. They expect a connected, faster experience in everything from their lives as consumers to their work/life balance. And going mobile is the only way your business can keep its hiring practices competitive.


Here’s one way that mobile, voice-controlled “assistant apps” are transforming HR.


Hiring Mobilized

Apps like Siri already recognize locations and can be asked to provide reminders when you depart or arrive. For example, Siri could be asked to list the open positions you need to focus on when you leave your house, then remind you about the references you wanted to call when you get to the office.


VoiceOver, the screen reader in iOS, can ‘read’ anything Siri ‘writes’ on your iPhone’s screen. As more programs are developed to be voice interactive, having the capability to interactively pre-screen applicants is a not too distant possility. Talent management solutions already offer online screening. Imagine having your “hiring assistant” run an assessment via an applicant’s smartphone, then send your phone an alert when results are available.


A “hiring assistant” could also answer new hire, or current employee, questions on benefits — from the policy on time off to whether health coverage is an option. The potential is limitless as this type of programming expands.


A Personal Trainer  

As the morning rush comes in, you notice that your new hire is struggling with the coffee maker. Rather than hold up traffic, or forget to address it later, ask your “training assistant” to remind you to set up some training for her at the end of the shift. Sound like something you’d like in the future? Apps like Siri can already handle that one for you.


As HR technology moves into “personal assistant” apps, you could automatically send your employee an email with the training content attached, or work with your talent management system to assign the training material online. Even more impressive, a well-developed assistant app could recognize areas an employee consistently falls short in testing and make training recommendations based on what you have on file. It’s not that far from the assessments currently available, which highlight different strengths and weakness based on online testing.


“D”elightful Scheduling

The same goes for scheduling. Apps like Siri have the ability to access what's in your address book and calendar. You are able to ask what’s ahead in your day, make changes and add new appointments. And programs like “D”— PeopleMatter’s Siri-like voice activated scheduler assistant can help manage work schedules.  


Even employees who don’t have smartphones can access “D,” effectively solving the No.1 mobile solution concern for many employers. Employees just dial a specified number from any phone to get “D” on the line. They can then ask for their schedule tomorrow, next week or even request shift changes and time off.


From a manager’s point-of-view, imagine the day that an app could tell you who has been scheduled for overtime and who is available to fill shifts. These are data points a good talent management system already tracks; the app would simply need to be compatible with the database.


Engagement Organized

Ever wish you could have a personal assistant to help keep up with all the details involved in employee feedback? Employee engagement is about the interaction and involvement of your employees with your restaurant. So an app can’t necessarily get your team more engaged, but it could help you manage employee performance and feedback.


Rather than scribbling a note down on how helpful someone is, have your “engagement assistant” transcribe a quick message and save it to an online library. It could also remind you when review time rolls around, pull your notes on a particular employee and possibly intergrate with your “training assistant” to see what improvements the employee has worked on.


The future is yet to unfold. But the opportunities personal assistant apps can offer to foodservice management are limitless. Just think, apps like Siri and “D” have the potential to be the first foodservice automated personal assistants that combine all your workforce solutions on your phone.

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