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Is There a Future for QR Codes in Human Resources?




Have you ever seen one of these boxes where there is a bunch of square dots arranged in various patterns? Have you ever seen someone stop and scan one of these weird looking boxes?

If you have, then you must be familiar with the QR code also known as the Quick Response Code. Hang in there, there’s much more to learn.

If haven’t heard of them, then don’t worry. I’ll give you the 4-1-1 on these two dimensional barcodes which have been around for almost two decades.

History of QR Codes

In 1994, the Japanese based Toyota subsidiary, Denso Wave invented these QR codes in order to track the manufacturing process of their vehicles. This technological advancement gave way to quicker scanning and gave them the ability to hold much more information than the well-known UPC bar code.

There are usually three bigger squares in the top right, top left and bottom left corners in the design of the QR code. In the bottom right area there is a smaller box that communicates the image size, orientation and angle of viewing to the other three squares. With a scan from the appropriate scanning technology, these dots are then converted into binary numbers and go through an error-correcting process to prove its validity. It then provides you with the information that is embedded in the coding.

It seems pretty simple, right?

My First QR Code Experience

Early in 2012, I didn’t really understand QR codes at all. So, don’t feel bad if you’re still at that point. There’s plenty of time to learn about them.  Over the past two years or so, they have become quite popular with Marketing professionals in the United States, most especially with companies that want to get you to their website for you to make purchases or access incentives or coupons.

In June 2012, I realized how creative these QR codes could prove to be. While preparing myself for the annual Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conference in Atlanta, Georgia, I had come across some interesting HR professionals online that were going to be there. I noticed that one well-known HR blogger, Jessica Miller-Merrell, had created a business card for her consulting business and had put a QR code right on it. I was quite intrigued to say the least. I then scanned the QR Code and in a matter of seconds, all of her company contact information appeared on my iPhone and ready to be saved into my contacts. It was unbelievably simple to scan with the proper scanning app and I was truly blown away by its potential.

After being inspired by Jessica’s use of the QR code, I decided to create my own social media card. I knew that SHRM 2012 was going to be heavily integrated with social media and thought it would be a great topic of conversation and a great networking tool to give out with my business card from work. I made a quick QR Code of my social media page on my personal website using the TapMedia iPhone application and integrated the QR code onto the card. It was a clever hit at the conference with whom I connected with.

Latest Trends

According to the latest Q2 2012 QR code trend research gathered by ScanLife, during the month of June 2012, there were 5.3 million QR code scans. This has been the most ever in one month in its 18-year existence.

ScanLife also concluded several interesting statistics from their research:

  • In Q2 2011, there were only 24 scans per minute globally and a year later that amount had quintupled to 120 scans per minute globally.
  • 69% of males scanned QR codes compared to only 31% of females.
  • Three-forth’s of those who scanned QR codes in Q2 2012 were 25 years or older.
  • Three-fifth’s of those who scanned QR codes in Q2 2012 scanned them from the comfort of their home.
  • The largest campaign during Q2 2012 that occurred was just over 2 million scans compared to just over 30,000 scans in Q2 2011.
  • The most popular time for scanning was found to be midday and early evening between 3pm and 7pm.
  • 10% more Andriod devices scanned QR codes compared to iOS devices (53% compared to 43%).
  • The top purposes for content included: sharing video, downloading applications, social media, loyalty programs and contests.
  • The top industries utilizing QR codes included: beverage, quick service restaurants, wireless, health and beauty, and toys.

QR Codes and Human Resources

Surely, QR codes are making its name in the United States. After reviewing this new trend data, I tried to figure out whether they can fit in with the Human Resources industry.

It’s been a challenge to find content on the Internet reviewing any ways outside using them for recruiting. Having potential candidates scan a QR code on recruiting materials to connect to the career pages and submit their resumes for positions is surely a viable use for this technology.

I’ve done some further brainstorming and have listed a few ways that Human Resources can utilize QR codes to engage employees and prove that this technology can very well become a useful tool in their department and in their company:

  • Employee Communications – QR codes can be used in department newsletters or emails where they can link directly to interesting facts on employees, company video clips displaying a day in the life of an employee at work, employee of the month and for other employee rewards and recognitions.
  • Benefits – QR codes can be used to link to annual open enrollment literature, benefit forms, benefit summary guides, and benefit claim forms.
  • Wellness programs – QR codes can be used in communications to have contests and polls to increase engagement and participation among employees.
  • Payroll – QR codes can be used to link to tax, direct deposit and address change forms as well as the employee self-service system.
  • Time and Attendance – QR codes can be implemented on ID cards for attendance scanning, if your company uses that technology.

Join in on the Discussion

Has your HR department implemented or plan to implement QR codes into any of these HR functions? If they have, we would love to hear how they are working for your company. If your HR department is planning on implementing QR codes, we also would love to hear your approach.

Share your comments below or take part in the discussion in our website forum!

Photo credit.

Avatar of Glenn Petriello

About Glenn Petriello

Glenn Petriello is a mid-level HR Generalist working in New York City. Coupled with his enthusiasm for social media and his entrepreneurial spirit, Glenn created The HR Social to provide an interactive blog experience for HR professionals and Social Media enthusiasts.

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