Electronic Human Resource Management (e-HRM) systems are becoming more prevalent in the modern business landscape. The formal definition of the electronic human resource information system (e-HRIS) states that it is an “information system, which is designed to support activities of human resources management” (Wirtky et al., 2016, p. 31). Human resources (HR) departments implement this automation tool to take care of routine tasks, increase effectiveness, and manage their workload more productively.
While the first use of e-HRM revolved around simple tasks, contemporary systems can tackle complex issues with the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. However, there are still some pitfalls that this approach might experience due to the novelty of the invention and the complexity of HR management. This paper examines four potential uses of e-HRM, investigates potential problems in implementation, and develops a recommendation section to help HR managers overcome barriers in the application.
To start with, the paper examines e-HRM’s use in federal compliance activities. While the application of e-HRM is extensive, some potential pitfalls include the system’s lack of expertise to tackle highly personalized cases that require human intervention. When implementing e-HRIS in staffing, it is also vital to acknowledge that qualitative information is as relevant in staffing models as quantitative computer-generated data. Onboarding activities can be supplemented by e-HRM but with a consideration of a personalized approach to the new worker and a lack of human resistance. Lastly, HR managers have to cope with the over-accessibility and impersonality of e-recruitment by implementing in-person sessions to ensure the efficiency of the selection process. The paper concludes that, despite difficulties in implementation, e-HRIS is a valuable addition to any business.
Federal Compliance Activities
One of the primary applications of e-HRM in the business field today is its extensive functionality of federal compliance activities. The HR department of every business is obliged to handle legal reports to ensure that the organization acts by various governmental regulations. The process includes gathering an extensive set of records that require an abundance of data analysis. Since the task is time-consuming and complex, Johnson and Gueutal (2012) report that it is one of the most outsourced in the industry. Therefore, e-HRM is equipped “for compliance with legal mandates (such as COBRA, Family, and Medical Leave Act) to monitor employee status, payment, and eligibility for health care benefits” (Johnson & Gueutal, 2012, p. 24). According to Johnson and Gueutal (2012), employee self-service (ESS) is an automated HR system that workers use to maintain up-to-date legal information by managing their benefits, signing up for compensation, and reporting required legal information. As Johnson and Gueutal (2012) discovered, e-benefits tools reduce the time for compliance matters and help businesses to minimize governmental fines and penalties. Conclusively, e-HRM is a viable tool to facilitate the function of legal compliance activities.
Issues in Implementation
Although an e-HRM system can process a part of federal compliance activities and significantly aid an HR department in mediating the legal risks, the task cannot be completely outsourced. E-HRM is useful in analyzing a large amount of data and basic input from employees to compile legal reports and records and ensure compliance with the existing framework. However, it is unable to consider the “inevitable exceptions to policy for which HR experts will need to be available” (Johnson & Gueutal, 2012, p. 25). For instance, legal compliance with HR practices concerning accommodation for employees with disabilities largely relies on each case’s characteristics. Therefore, for situations that require more attention to detail and consideration of exceptional circumstances, the assistance of a skilled and experienced HR professional is vital. Especially for a global company that is concerned with diversifying the workforce, unique legal situations often arise, which urges for human interaction and empathy (Johnson & Gueutal, 2012). Consequently, it is ineffective to delegate this function to the automated system completely.
Recommendations for Implementation
Given the aforementioned implementation barriers, it is essential to address the recommendations for utilizing e-HRM for legal compliance. Johnson and Gueutal (2012) state that as more automation is going to be implemented into businesses, more legal requirements will appear, requiring HR to report additional information. Therefore, there is a forecasted trend of growing legal compliance demands in “pending changes in tax codes, financial reports, equal employment opportunity compliance, and health care” (Johnson & Gueutal, 2012, p. 26). As a result, a business must adapt to the change while also considering the comfort and effectiveness of the employees. A balanced approach to federal compliance activities is recommended to maintain an efficient approach to minimize the legal risks and facilitate the creation of a legally compliant and satisfactory environment for employees. For instance, specific cases like the example of a worker with a disability given above should be detected by the system and directed to the HR professional rather than being processed automatically. HR strategists should also analyze and determine the legal compliance tasks that the system will be unable to perform and delegate only simple data-driven functions.
Staffing models and workforce management are some of the most crucial tasks of HR that can nonetheless be delegated to an e-HRIS. According to McDonald et al. (2017), staffing models generate “reports, charts, and graphs to precisely measure work activity, determine needed labor hours, analyze how employee time is spent, and calculate costs” (p. 87). Staffing models determine the workforce’s performance and help businesses to increase the efficiency and productiveness of employees. For instance, the employment cycle patterns, longevity, hiring, and firing trends, as well as productivity, can show an existing issue within an organization. However, this technique requires specific analytical expertise that many HR professionals lack. As a result, e-HRM can serve as a tool for gathering and analyzing data to forecast, determine, and meet the staffing needs of a business. Its technological capabilities of quantitative research present a viable, cost, and time-effective framework for HR managers to utilize in the process of optimizing the business processes and strategizing for the future of the company.
Issues in Implementation
While e-HRM tools are efficient in collecting and analyzing data for staffing models, it is also essential to address the difficulties this approach yields for HR professionals. Creating a staffing model is a complex process that involves not only data-driven analysis and evaluation but also information interpretation and its application into interpersonal and organizational contexts (McDonald et al., 2017). For instance, HR can utilize the staffing model tools available through the use of e-HRM to determine how many hours employees spend on a particular task and how effective a specific individual is. However, without being correctly interpreted and contextualized, HR managers cannot use this information to see a need for change and implement it. More specifically, an e-HRM generated staffing model analysis can show that the effectiveness of the particular department has decreased over some time. While it is evidence-based, a manager cannot understand the reasons behind this issue unless he/she will investigate the problem personally. Furthermore, the automated systems are not entirely capable of adequately interpreting the quantitative results, which will require a dedicated, skilled professional to process data.
Recommendations for Implementation
Since using e-HRM for staffing is a complicated yet cost- and time-efficient process, businesses should consider some recommendations during the implementation. First, the HR department has to determine the role of e-HRM in the staffing modeling process. As mentioned above, the automated system is a viable framework for discovering quantitative evidence that can guide the staff’s planning and mediate the issues in the working environment (McDonald et al., 2017). However, it is essential not to rely on it for executive decisions without professional HR intervention. Thus, HR managers should ground their decisions on both the evidence provided by the system and their judgment. McDonald et al. (2017) state that e-HRM should be allowed to partake only in specific tasks like “making choices about cost-effective staffing plans and utilizing the right mix of permanent and temporary employees” (p. 102). Second, as it concerns further contextualizing of the findings, it is essential to acknowledge that a fallacy in data interpretation can be fatal in terms of business outcomes. Therefore, a dedicated HR professional should be assigned to monitor and evaluate e-HRM’s findings and compare them to qualitative in-person ones.
Onboarding is an essential task of HRM that requires comprehensive new employee integration into the new working environment that has a high potential of being delegated to an e-HRM system. The practice serves as a vital component of one’s employment cycle and greatly determines an employee’s experience within a company both at the start and the whole duration of the career. For example, workers are not adequately integrated into the organization’s work cycle. In that case, they will fail to understand the corporate culture, functions, and responsibilities, ultimately resulting in a decrease in productivity and a high chance of work contract termination. On the other hand, if employees are inclusively introduced to a company, they develop a commitment to an organization and an understanding of the business’s values, mission, and vision (Bondarouk et al., 2016). Furthermore, the task can be more technically oriented since new employees also have to be educated on relevant safety regulations, code of conduct, and so forth. E-HRM can play the role of a facilitator of this process by scheduling meetings, presenting information in an interactive and accessible manner, and accelerating training.
Issues in Implementation
While e-HRM’s help in the onboarding process is undoubtedly valuable for an organization in terms of cost-effectiveness as an evidence-based approach, this system might also be incompetent due to the high demand for empathy. Onboarding requires psychological support since integrating into a new workplace is a stressful transitional process. Therefore, relying solely on e-HRM for facilitating this integration is unrealistic because face-to-face human interaction is a vital component of the process that cannot be substituted (Bondarouk et al., 2016). A more overarching issue with the implementation of e-HRM in onboarding practices lies in the system’s perception among employees and top management. As Bondarouk et al. (2016) highlight, before the successful implementation of an e-HRM, workers perceive the change as a solely operational facilitator. Furthermore, e-HRM adoption is resisted because employees recognize it as a change that will enforce an unnecessarily higher workload (Bondarouk et al., 2016). Additionally, HR professionals are used to making executive decisions independently rather than relying on a system. It can be concluded that the main issue in implementation is human resistance to adopting an approach that allows an electronic system to fulfill the highly people-oriented task.
Recommendations for Implementation
Given that the main issue in onboarding e-HRM practice implementation relates to human resistance, the primary recommendation for application is to overcome the opposition by normalizing the use of automated systems for interpersonally-oriented tasks. It is essential to address the commonly shared view of e-HRM as a solely operational tool that can be utilized only in basic tasks. Bondarouk et al. (2016) have discovered that in addition to aiding HR departments in day-to-day operational functions, e-HRM can have a transformational effect on the company by creating an environment of high cooperation and efficiency. Therefore, the best approach in onboarding e-HRM practice is promoting the system as a viable technique to enhance the quality of human interactions. It is essential to highlight the transformational potential of e-HRM that can both free up space for interpersonal encounters by scheduling and facilitate integration by training to change HR managers’ mindset (Bondarouk et al., 2016). The change in perception will allow for more extensive use of the technological framework that will overcome human resistance and increase the effectiveness of the practice by the ease of new employee integration.
Lastly, the recruitment process is another HRM function that can be aided by an e-HRIS to improve performance and time efficiency. Holm and Haahr (2019) highlighted that the recruitment and selection of new employees is a complex and time-demanding mechanism that directly affects the company’s success by enhancing productivity, integrating new talent, and spurring innovation. E-HRM is a tool that can significantly simplify the process by accessible application and selection procedures. For instance, Holm and Haahr (2019) have identified “reducing recruitment costs, eliminating administrative burden, and employing better tools for recruitment” as some of the primary advantages of the framework (p. 225). Furthermore, as the needs of a diverse and versatile workforce grow, it is becoming challenging to manage the recruitment process to meet a “demand of political, legal, socio-cultural and linguistic factors” (Holm & Haahr, 2019, p. 234). Therefore, it is safe to state that e-recruiting and e-selection are vital components of the modern workforce landscape that every company needs to adopt.
Issues in Implementation
Although e-recruitment has its benefits for businesses, there are also a set of barriers to implementation. The first issue is the processes’ broader exposure and accessibility. While these features are advantageous in terms of attracting more potential applicants and therefore finding the best match, they also require more processing capacity (Holm & Haahr, 2019). In a situation where the application process is significantly easier than in traditional paper form, more unfitting candidates apply, making it harder to separate the desired worker from one with insufficient qualifications. Therefore, it can be considered a barrier to acquiring talent. In addition, the ease of e-recruitment is also contradicted by a lack of human communication. Modern technological advances allow recruiters to hire employees that they never met, which might create issues in the onboarding stage. For instance, an applicant can display all the necessary qualifications that are evident from the e-recruitment and selection stages. However, when hired, it can become apparent that the candidate is inadequate in his/her teamwork skills that the job requires. Consequently, e-HRM recruitment can pose some risks since it is unable to assess skills like cooperation correctly.
Recommendations for Implementation
HR managers should implement a blended recruitment approach that will require both the initial online application procedure that will be facilitated by an e-HRM and the in-person interview. The first half of the process will ensure the ease of application and save HR professionals the time that they can later dedicate to interviewing. Holm and Haahr (2019) identified personal communication as one of the essential components of recruitment that must be present in the e-HRM-driven process to minimize the risk of hiring individuals who lack necessary interpersonal competencies. To mediate the number of applications that grow with the increased ease of use, the e-HRM should filter the candidates per the required set of skills. For instance, if a person does not list the previous work positions while the company requires three years of experience, the application will be automatically withdrawn. Taking the aforementioned measures will ensure that the barriers to e-recruitment implementation will be mediated. In conclusion, it can be said that while e-HRIS requires extensive analysis and overcoming barriers in implementation, its benefits make it a viable framework necessary for every business to manage HR.
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Holm, A. B., & Haahr, L. (2019). E-recruitment and selection. In M. Thite (Ed.), E-HRM (pp. 225-265). Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.
Johnson, R. D., & Gueutal, H. G. (2012). Transforming HR through technology: The use of E-HR and HRIS in organizations. Society for Human Resource Management Foundation. Web.
McDonald, K., Fisher, S., & Connelly, C. E. (2017). E-HRM systems in support of “smart” workforce management: An exploratory case study of system success. Electronic HRM in the Smart Era, 13(1), 87-108. Web.
Wirtky, T., Laumer, S., Eckhardt, A., & Weitzel, T. (2016). On the untapped value of e-HRM – a literature review. Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 38(1), 20-83. Web.