TECHNOLOGY-ENABLED HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT FOR CONTEMPORARY WORK PLACE
Contemporary work places are swarming with diverse workforce coming from different cultures, generations, educational backgrounds and gender. Younger generation is technology-savvy and wired up always. At the same time, challenges arise out of uncertainty and ever-changing market forces. Such a diverse and fluid situation requires a different type of HR department- technology-enabled. Though many organizations adopt HRIS, the need to go beyond routine work, the need to get involved in strategic issues at organizational level and the need to be innovative- all these require a revamped HR. E-HRM is the suitable mechanism through which HR processes can be accelerated, re-designed, made accessible to employees and management, be transparent and help everyone to get involved in productivity enhancement and be innovative and meet the aspirations of technology-savvy and socially mobile employees. This Paper is an attempt to trace how e-HRM can usher in dramatic changes at different functional levels and technology can release the potential of HR executives to shift their attention from routine tasks to strategic initiatives for the benefit of the entire organization.
Key words: Diverse work force, HRIS., e-HRM, Innovation in HRM.
TECHNOLOGY-ENABLED HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT FOR CONTEMPORARY WORK PLACE
Contemporary work place, be it in manufacturing or service, profit or non-profit, has undergone drastic changes in terms of scale and technology of operations, governance and interface between management-employees, company-stakeholders and employees-customers. Diversity at work place in terms of –generational, location-wise, cultural, gender and educational – has brought in tough challenges for companies in general and Human Resource (HR) departments in particular. Wright & Dyer (2000) rightly pointed out that “HR functions (can) become critical partners in driving success, but to do so requires that HR changes its focus, its role and its delivery systems”.
Transformation of HRM through technology
This Research Paper attempts to unfold the pertinent changes in HR domain by the adoption of technology-enabled systems, e-HR. Key aspects related to adoption of technology in HR, as detailed below, are discussed:
- Difference between HRIS and e-HRM
- Implementation of IT in HRM
- Technology as a bridge to link HRM and innovation
- Contribution of e-HRM.
I. Difference between HRIS and e-HRM
HR transformation is possible through “the fusion of existing HR practices and technology” leading to “alter the way in which an HR department perceives itself, interprets its organizational and strategic environment and does business with clients and contractors” (Martin, Heather, Reddington & Pate, 2006). HR Information System (HRIS) is focussed on improving processes within HR departments with its (HR department’s) employees being the main users. HRIS improves business performance indirectly.
Information Technology (IT) enabled HRM is known as e-HRM, virtual HRM, HR intranet and web-based HR. According to Dorel & Aleksandra (2011) the term e-HRM provides services not only for HR department, but also for wide range of employees, potential employees and management over internet or intranet. e-HR is rightly perceived as “the technical unlocking of HRIS for all employees of an organization” (Ruël & Bondarouk, 2004) .
II. Implementation of IT in HRM
IT can be effectively implemented in the entire gamut of HR functions for reducing costs and time taken for different tasks, for bringing transparency in decision-making, appraisals, promotions, fixation of pay and benefits as well as for enhancing effectiveness of training through e-learning initiatives. HRIS alone will not be able to trigger organizational changes. e-HR offers solutions for firms, which are operating under uncertainty and fluctuations in market space, by capturing contextual driven, real-time data and offering innovative answers to the challenges faced by employees. Brief overview of IT in HR processes is presented in Table 1.
Thus, IT can accelerate data collection in real-time, and its conversion into useful information for optimal decision-making. HR departments are usually the last to install and implement technology platforms. Justification to infuse technology into HR departments may vary from organization to organization. Kettley and Reilly (2003) identified major reasons for adopting e-HR as “(i) cost-cutting an adding operational efficiency; (ii) desire of HR function to change the nature of its relationship with employees and line managers; (iii) transformation of HR into a customer-focussed and responsive function; and (iv) ability to produce comprehensive and consistent management information”.
III. Technology as a bridge to link HRM and innovation
Past research has focussed on ‘innovation in HRM’ rather than ‘innovation and HRM’. To succeed in the uncertain and dynamic market scenario, it is necessary to integrate HRM with innovation through technology by designing HRM strategies that facilitate innovation and snugly fit into organizational strategies. Leede & Looise (2005) developed a model that integrates HRM and innovation at two levels: (i) level of organization in general aiming to create an innovative organization with the help of deliberate HRM strategy and (ii) level of specific innovation states, requiring specific HRM practises, such as assigning specific tasks, developing specific expertise or opening of specific channels for creativity.
Ruël & Bondarouk (2004) opine that e-HRM is an innovation in terms of HRM because of “(i) the opportunities created by it to put employee-management relationships in the hands of employees and line managers; and (ii) IT creates possibilities to design HRM tools an instruments, such as advanced personnel assessment and measurement tools that can be used at any moment of the day and in any location.
Martin, Reddington & Heather (2008) put forth four-fold arguments for “the claim of HR to create competitive advantage by creating added value for managers and employees through more effective information flows in its market-space:
- e-HR can reduce HR transaction costs and head count, for example, by supplying the same HR information to large number of people on a virtual basis rather than physical basis;
- e-HR can substitute physical capability by leveraging the law of digital assets to re-use information flexibly on an infinite number of occasions at little or no marginal cost (e-training and e-learning to large number of people across the globe);
- e-HR can facilitate more effective virtual customer relationships and internal labour markets by increasing the reach and richness of two-way information; and
- it can transform the traditional HR business-model by e-enabling HR to provide strategic value to organizations that it previously could not do.”
IV. Contribution of e-HRM
e-HRM brings in multi-fold advantages into an organization with its diverse work force, ever-changing market scenario and expectations of employees. Commitment of HR departments to usher in changes through technology and contribute to organizational goals is the driver for successful e-HRM system implementation. HR leaders should wake up to the reality that technologies need to be introduced, mastered and customized not only for HR departments but also for the organization as a whole.
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