Oracle unveils HR help desk, mobile app for Learning Cloud

Oracle opens its HCM conference with the release of an HR help desk for complex employee issues, upgrades to Learning Cloud and a new module for encouraging volunteerism among workers.

Oracle took the wraps off several new HCM cloud additions, including an HR help desk for solving complex worker issues, a new module for encouraging volunteering for charities backed by employers and upgrades to its Learning Cloud.

The additions, announced today during Oracle HCM World in Chicago, are geared toward helping an organization with its employee engagement strategy, said Gretchen Alarcon, group vice president of human capital management (HCM) strategy at Oracle. Employee engagement is a term for wellness and similar efforts that can increase a worker's emotional connection to an employer.

"Our focus on employee engagement is definitely still front and center," Alarcon said in an interview.  "We are introducing new products specifically in that area."

HR help desk guides complex situations for employees

The HR help desk is designed to help human resources provide top services to an employee dealing with a difficult situation, such as relocating to another country, she said. The help desk would automatically provide the technicalities of such a process, she said; for instance, answering questions about taxation, benefits coverage and performance management in the new country.

The help desk includes advanced search capabilities, expertise in managing certain cases and a comprehensive view of the workforce to allow HR officials to provide better service by understanding employees individually.

The help desk would bring together HR leaders who perform different roles in an organization, such as recruiting, learning, and employee relations and performance management. All might need to work together to solve a problem for an employee.

Recommendation engine part of Oracle HCM Cloud

The Oracle HCM Cloud includes a recommendation engine that would be used in the help desk and other modules, Alarcon said. If an employee previously asked a question, the engine's algorithm would push out some information based on that earlier interaction, she said.

"That personalization is throughout this," Alarcon said. "The system makes recommendations based on prior activities and prior use."

Oracle also released My Volunteering, the fourth in a series of "work life" products. The module allows employees to identify employer-supported volunteer efforts, and it can suggest volunteer opportunities tied to employees' skills, she said.

The volunteering module is in addition to My Reputation, which monitors employee compliance with the company's social media policy, and analyzes an employee's talent reputation in social communities and among peers; My Wellness, which allows employees to reach physical goals and to suggest exercises, for example, to colleagues; and My Competitions, which is a type of gamification that allows enterprises to create contests among employees, such as fixing a software bug or naming a new product.

New mobile app for learning

Oracle also introduced a mobile application for its Learning Cloud that allows employees to link to training or learning opportunities, regardless of location or connectivity hurdles.

If an employee is on a plane, for example, and wants to take a certification course, there would be no obstacle, Alarcon said.

The Learning Cloud, which was unveiled a year ago, allows employees to post and share video tutorials, and to create and publish content, such as videos, PDFs and PowerPoints. "Learning is something that is so important for organizations," she said. "We are seeing this transformation in how people are thinking about learning. We are excited to be part of that."

The learning module was also improved so that it supports technical standards to allow it to connect to content in other e-learning software and can be embedded into business processes.

Users would pay separately for the HR help desk and My Volunteering, which are new modules on the HCM Cloud.

The improvements to the Learning Cloud are essentially an upgrade and would be free for existing users of that module.

An organization might find the products helpful for an employee engagement strategy, she said. "These new products put an emphasis on employee engagement, which is such an important part of doing business in this more digital age."

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