Under the pressure from intensified competition nowadays, Human Resource Management practitioners who are responsible for fine-tuning a capable workforce need, more than ever, the accurate and real-time information to measure and manage the increasingly diversified workforce. Information Technology (IT), with its analytical advantages, has helped HRM practitioners align their management goals, the goals of individual employees, and the corporate strategy to deliver strategic plans with quantifiable results, and deal with environmental turbulences proactively. on top of that, IT has helped HRM professionals demonstrate the HRM's benefit to the bottom line by effectively managing knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) that create winning organizations. Information technology has enabled HRM in accelerating processing, handling complexity of all HRM issues, and measuring and communicating the performances HRM practices need to learn and track.
First, HRM needs IT because of IT's powerful capability in processing and delivering results in a speedy manner. While resources are getting more scare, organizations' key to survival and success today lies more and more in speed. With its capability in categorizing, calculating, analyzing, storing, and retrieving, IT can potentially save time and resources by getting work done a lot faster and more accurately, so it frees individuals like HRM practitioners and the front line managers, especially, from their cumbersome routine work to concentrate on tasks they are more qualified to perform and can produce added value from (Cardy & Miller, 2005). With speed come other competitive advantages associated with HRM's use of IT, such as achieved scale, efficiency, increased accuracy, or as reported by Kehoe, Dickter, Russell and Sacco (2005): the minimized cost, the maximized utilization of the organization's human capital, and the enabled organizational sustainability to progressively evolve the system to satisfy changing requirements and to capitalize on technology improvements.
For example, Kozlowski, Toney, Mullins, Weissbein, Brown, and Bell (2001) estimates distance learning can reduce the indirect costs of training (for example, costs associated with travel to training facilities, hotel accommodations for trainees, lost work time for employees attending trainingââ‚¬Â¦etc.) that have estimated to account for 80 percent of organizational training costs. Cedar (2003) observes that between 70 and 90 percent of large firms nowadays use e-recruiting systems, and it is anticipated that over 95 percent of organizations plan to use them in the near future. In addition, the popular online multi-rater of Computerized Performance Monitoring (CPM) technology (software packages that actually construct evaluation for manager, like: appraisal forms and accompanying narrative sentences and paragraphs by managers' touching screen or clicking buttons) revolutionized the HRM appraisal, leading to the report by Caudron (1994) that certain high-tech firms (for example, San Jose-based Novell Inc.) even anticipates they will eventually reach the point where employee evaluations are accomplished entirely online, creating a truly paperless system.
The second reason for HRM's needs for IT lies in IT's capability in handling the complexity of HRM issues. Namely, first, the legal reporting requirements and diverse new legislatures requirements; secondly, the novel challenges the current workforce faces.
In HRM history, HRM-related technological breakthroughs always occur when HRM is impacted by the environmental discontinuities like the intervention and supervision from the federal courts and Congress, or the "mandated tax and wage legislation and social legislation like Affirmative Action, Equal Employment opportunity, occupational Safety and Health Act....etc." (Fletcher, 2005), along with the legal disputes like lawsuits filed by employees to the organizations, or vice versa.
The worry from the corporate world, initially, was not the legislation itself, but the increased and new burden of paperwork, process, and tracking. HRM-related IT was invented, and continually developed, to support such compliance because of those powerful features IT possesses in filing, analyzing, storing and tracking. As time goes by and even with the progressed technology by their side, HRM practitioners still constantly have to deal with changing legislature and modified regulations on both state and federal level, especially after each election when administrations change hand.
Legislature is not the only HRM issue full of complexity. A great deal of novel challenges of complexity has surfaced in the workplace due to the drastic changes in working environment, technologies, and the composite of the current workforce. For example, companies like IBM and Kodak now cover trans-related medical care, while 125 Fortune 500 companies now protect transgender employees from job discrimination, up from three in 2000 (Rosenberg, 2007). Meanwhile, managing depressed workers and managing employee moods to prevent productivity from dropping has also become an "incredibly important part of keeping, recruiting, retaining and developing top people," Stern (2006) reports. For instance, Lockheed Martin, in 2002 alone, had lost $786,000 in lost work hours by workers suffering from depression. With the help of IT, organizations will be able to detect signals, identify potential employee patients, undergo researches, allocate resources, update related organizational policies and strategies, and communicate more effectively with all members of the organizations to tackle such problem in time. For instance, organizations could solve this problem by providing cognitive counseling, guided meditations, yoga breaks, and ensuring full lighting and quiet offices (Stern, 2006). Scott (2007) reports that employees' misuse of e-mail, blogs, message boards and media-sharing web sites posed a significant security risk, like the exposure of company trade secrets, and sensitive or embarrassing information. For publicly traded U.S. companies last year, with 31.8 percent investigating a suspected violation of privacy or data protection regulations, and 27.6 percent reported terminating an employee for violating e-mail policies.
Last, HRM needs IT for its capability in measuring and communicating the performances HRM practices need to learn and track: HRM executives and practitioners have long faced skepticism of not being able to prove that people are the most important asset to the firms, nor why HRM is the key to a firm's success. Becker, Huselid, and Ulrich (2001) argues that the root cause to this is because "HR's influence on firm performance is difficult to measure". Cascio and Ward (1981) singles out the failure to specify clear objectives for each personnel program as the most serious HRM measure problem, leading to the inaccuracy generated by measures as the second HRM measure problem. once all functional and organizational performances get measured with accuracy, HRM practitioners will be able to propose more sophisticated workforce analysis, and further manage workforce to the ultimate result.
Fitz-enz (2002) reviews the history of HRM measure as from no measurement, to measure the performances of the HRM functional services only in the quantitative and financial terms, to measure HRM's performances in all aspects by various performance criteria (for example, HRM's performances in meeting its functional tasks, and HRM's performances in helping organizations' meeting its strategic goals), and in both quantitative and qualitative terms (non-financial terms).
With the off-the-shelf measure software by IT vendors (or by organization itself), HRM organizations and practitioners can now measure and quantify almost any HRM object, issue, act, process, or activity that can be described in terms of observable variables (Fitz-enz, 2002). Since IT offers what Fitz-enz (2002) describes as the elements of any "good and dependable HRM measurement system", including: effective metrics (as criteria), sufficient database, contemplation of the combining factors (like location, level, growth rate, company size, and industry...etc.), meaningful forms and formulas, and reporting and communicating the measures in a persuasive manner within the organization. Using IT to measure HRM dimensions can communicate performance expectations in objective quantitative terms, make outcomes more easily understood comparing to standard and/or benchmarks, identify performance gaps, support resource allocation decisions, and recognize and reward performance (Fitz-enz, 2002).
Increasing environmental challenges have critically changed how we do and perceive business, and the nature and role of every business functionality. In order to raise the much needed efficiency, effectiveness, and productivity, organizations have turned to two facilitators: the Human Resources Management (HRM), and the Information Technology (IT). There are, at least, three main reasons for HRM's needs for IT: IT's powerful capability in accelerating processing, in handling complexity of all HRM issues (for example, legislatures reporting requirements), and in measuring and communicating the performances HRM practices need to learn and track.