Garden Ridge Inc., a Houston-based chain of craft and home décor stores, is looking into expanding its in-store kiosks to incorporate more human resources applications. Garden Ridge has used the kiosks from Unicru Inc. for job applications. The kiosks have expanded the pool of job applicants and made more highly qualified personnel available to Garden Ridge, Kevin Rutherford, vice president of human resources, says. Now Garden Ridge is looking into using the same kiosks for employee testing and training.
"We plan on using the Unicru tool for other things," Rutherford says, specifically for teaching and testing employees about products. Another possibility, he adds, is building a database of resumes that could be used in recruitment efforts.
Unicru is developing kiosk-based e-learning systems. The system would first test employees, recording their competency levels beginning when they apply for a job and in subsequent periodic tests, and then deliver education programs to help them improve their skills.
By comparing employee competency levels recorded in the kiosk system with employers’ expected performance levels, Unicru intends to develop customized training programs. Chris Reed, Unicru’s vice president of marketing, says the training programs can help steer employees onto the right career track as well as provide basic training in product knowledge and store policies.
"When you look at who store managers are, they’re usually promoted from the hourly workforce," Reed says. "They’re usually the best sales people, but they may not necessarily have the best management skills."
Unicru is developing a program that will look for management aptitude in the applications filed at kiosks by job candidates, and then design training programs to help them progress toward a management position. "They get identified early as a candidate for management, so the employer knows to invest in them," Reed says.
While many of Unicru kiosks are not web-enabled, but rather communicate from store to Unicru headquarters via a phone line, adding e-learning content would make web-enabling the machines more urgent, Reed says. E-learning would require higher quality graphics, more interactivity and more multi-media applications, all of which are better delivered over the web.