Although a plethora of studies on management identify practices of human resource management as one of the most influential factors contributing to enterprise efficiency, HR practitioners should take into consideration a wide range of conditions while planning, developing, and implementing their methods. In order to benefit from HR management, an organization should support personnel-oriented practices with the use of advances in the information technology (IT). The current and potential economic issues, increased business complexities, and global general integration of human relationships in economic, legal, social, technological, political, and other spheres have predetermined the implementation of the information technology in HR management.
Today, human resource management is extremely influenced by the rapid development of the information technologies, which appear to be one of the major factors of economic globalization. Communication activity of companies has become extremely dynamic and global. Skills of HR practitioners are constantly developing due to information obtained in periodicals and on the Internet concerning plans and achievements of local and/or national rivals, foreign enterprises, transcontinental corporations, and multinational companies.
Computer awareness, IT knowledge, and skills allow HR managers to build a virtual network structure or take part in the existing one and, thus, invigorate their communication strategies and personnel-related practices. Information systems designed within the last decades have strengthened immeasurably the ability of HR practitioners to perform their professional duties. Using innovative IT instruments and computer-based operational methods, HR practitioners are able to modify their practice and focus on strategic goals of their organization. Utilization of the information technology has a great impact on management in general and human resource management in particular.
Human Resource Management
Although the terms “manager” and “management” have been used in the English language since the beginning of the last century, their contemporary meaning formed only some decades ago. Management involves an integrated system of methods, principles, means, and forms of leading, planning, operating, organizing, controlling, and staffing a business unit. In accordance with Mathis & Jackson (2010), “Human resource (HR) management is designing management systems to ensure that human talent is used effectively and efficiently to accomplish organizational goals.” Human resource management comprises a set of thoroughly planned, coordinated, regularly made, and consistently implemented administrative decisions targeted at the achievement of the main goals of an organization, irrespective of its size and industry.
Employees are generally recognized as the most significant resource of any business unit today; however, they can be rather difficult objects of management due to their individual characteristics, demands, skills, qualifications, and responsibilities. Furthermore, the personnel have subjective interests and are extremely sensitive to administrative decisions.
Contemporary HR management differs greatly from the previous one; it is essentially more complicated than the traditional models applied in all branches and spheres of life within many decades due to new economic conditions of globalization, societal transformations, constantly increasing competitiveness, and technological advancements. Contemporary human resource management recognizes the need to use the information technology in order to provide an organization with opportunities to successfully compete against its strongest contenders. Today, an HR practitioner should be fully aware of the current development trends in the branch in which their company specializes. They involve obligatory awareness of technologies, competition, demand behavior, specific research, financial, and demographic studies, and perspectives. Also, they should be aware of efficient HR management models in other companies and branches.
Contemporary Functions and Strategic Goals of HR Management
The necessity to ensure effective performance of an organization comprises the essence of functions and responsibilities of today’s HR management. The main functions of HR management are to make beneficial decisions and supervise their thorough execution in accordance with organizational culture, mission, capacities, human resources, communication practices, technological advances, external and internal conditions, and so on. HR practitioners receive, assess, store, transfer, communicate, and elaborate information.
In order to promote organizational productivity and achieve strategic goals, HR professionals perform a wide range of functions and exercise responsibilities. Noe et al. (2011) distinguish the following functions of human resource professionals:
Analysis and design of work. HR practitioners get and evaluate information about jobs performed in their organization, and identify potential business improvements and adverse effects and optimum and minimum expectations connected with tasks and requirements of jobs.
Recruitment and selection. “Recruitment is the process through which the organization seeks applicants for potential employment. Selection refers to the process by which the organization attempts to identify applicants with the necessary knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics that will help the organization achieve its goals” (Noe et al., 2011).
Employees’ training and development. Each job requires specific knowledge, excellent skills, well-developed abilities, high quality education, and particular personal characteristics. Effectively functioning organizations are associated with skillful, experienced, competent, highly qualified, goal-oriented, and motivated employees. A cadre of more competent and better-prepared professionals is crucial to business units. The process of education and training is dynamic and covers an essential part of lifespan, bringing a specific contribution to personal development and professional growth of an employee at each stage of their development. Development programs promote autonomy, competence, and relatedness, which are basic psychological needs leading to improved abilities of employees to meet new requirements and perform new activities.
Performance management. HR professionals specify tasks and outcomes of each particular job in conformity with goals and objectives of an organization.
Compensation and benefits. Well-designed reward programs increase retention, motivate, and satisfy employees. Motivation practices should be modified in accordance with changing job requirements and workplace conditions. Therefore, they should include tangible rewards such as competitive pay, incentives, benefits, and opportunities for professional growth and personal development. A reward system should be perceived by personnel as relevant to their responsibilities, efforts, and inputs.
Employee relations. The HR department prepares and distributes “employee handbooks that detail company policies and, in large organizations, company publications such as a monthly newsletter or a Web site on the organization’s intranet”.
Compliance with laws. HR professionals should perform their activities in compliance with existing laws and official regulations to ensure lawful behavior. The HR department is involved in the resolution of legal issues of labor relations, provision of safe working conditions, coordination of administrative and other documents on human resource management, and so on.
Support for strategy. HR practitioners have to make integrated decisions in regard to strategic goals of their organization, including personnel planning and forecasting, participating in change and project management, and so on.
The roles of HR professionals have become far more complex and ramified over the last decades. Potential competitive strengths and opportunities of companies are inextricably linked with the efficiency of human resource management due to changes that occurred in requirements for HR goals, functions, and responsibilities. HR management is steadily becoming a valuable component of factors contributing to the increased competitiveness and long-term development of organizations.
Utilization of the Information Technology in HR Management
Effective human resource management in many respects depends on utilized managerial practices. Therefore, the information technology is implemented by HR professionals in order to promote efficient functioning of their organization. The information technology involves purposeful actions aimed at collecting, storage, search, transformation, and exchange of information.
The utilization of IT in human resource management has significantly shifted from ordinary registration of personnel to much more complicated operations. Registration of personnel is performed in all enterprises, establishments, and organizations of all forms of ownership which have the right to accept and dismiss workers independently. Without the utilization of the information technology and relevant software, an organization will not be able to operate profitably and remain competitive. The main personnel-related issues of human resource management are solved by means of information systems and technologies: Labor expenses are reduced, data are comprehensively processed, and the probability of errors significantly decreases.
The computerization of HR departments started several decades ago. Advances in the information technology penetrate all functions of HR management at a fast pace by integrating operations, improving efficacy, reshaping job performance, providing tools for data mining, recruiting, planning, forecasting, tackling expenses, and training (Bakker & Leiter, 2010; Mathis & Jackson, 2010; Noe et al., 2011). “With the growing use of information technology in creating competitive advantages in organizations, HR’s need to be competent in technology allowing HR practitioners to deal effectively with intranets, self-service, online recruiting, e-learning, online employee surveys, and other initiatives are quickly becoming a requirement”. Today, HR departments of all enterprises and organizations develop and utilize innovative processes based on the state-of-the-art organizational structure, software, and other achievements of the information technologies.
HR Management Software
Information communication technology (ICT) applications and infrastructures allow HR professionals to solve diverse problems of personnel-oriented management by more perfect means. Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) or Human Resource Management Systems (HRMS) are complex multifunctional systems, which provide data and “information used by HR management in decision making. This terminology emphasizes that making HR decisions, not just building databases and using technology, is the primary reason for compiling data in an information system”.
Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) represent a new concept of human resource management and are designed to meet the needs of diverse personnel-related operations and all types of organizations. The accuracy and operational speed of a professionally developed and debugged HRIS (Human Resource Information System) significantly reduce time and number of errors, improve quality of service, facilitate audit, increase profits and benefits, and promote a positive image of HR practitioners among employees, potential clients, and partners.
Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) include such modules as a payroll module, time and management module, HR management module, and benefit administration module. These modules are synchronized and integrated with each other and can be easily expanded to meet the needs of the HR department.
Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) are specifically designed to store, archive, update, search, and retrieve information and data on employees. Functions of all applications can be regulated to meet the needs of an organization. Access to data and information is password-protected due to demands of safety and security. Furthermore, access can be established for each employee in conformity with their position and duties. Thus, optimum security of data is achieved due to operational functions of the software.
Today, there is an abundant supply of diverse Human Resource Information Systems such as Microsoft Dynamics ERP, OrangeHRM, EzRMS, Human Capital Management solutions (HCM), Coats Integrated Staffing Software (COATSsql), ECandidate, Kenexa, Web Human Resource, and others. According to Noe et al., the utilization of computer software facilitates the performance of personnel-associated managerial responsibilities, customization of performance measurement forms, establishment of a set of performance standards, and assessment of employees’ strengths and weaknesses. Furthermore, Mathis & Jackson (2010) state that information-based systems accelerate the process of workflow. Thus, Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) empower HR managers of any organization to create and effectively apply a system, which successfully manages personnel, improves specific functions and general administration, and promotes benefits and profits of a business unit.
However, facilitating and improving human resource management, Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) differ in their design, utilization, functions, costs, effectiveness, targeted enterprise, or industry. While utilizing an HRIS/HRMS, HR professionals should consider such factors as software expediency, reliability of a product, quality and reputation of a manufacturing company, expertise, functionality, possible difficulties in operating, post installation support services, additional resources, flexibility of expansion and supported interfaces, compatibility with different software and computer equipment, and price levels.
The Internet and Social Networking
Since the time when the IRC (Internet Relay Chat) technology was invented in 1988, communication via social media has become an ascendant pastime among representatives of all age categories. Creating multicultural communities worldwide and connecting people across physical space, social media are steadily ousting other means of communication due to the rapid growth of international online access today. “Collaboration through electronic means is easier and cheaper than ever before”. Networks have become “a typical expression of corporate diversity policies”.
Diverse forums, newsgroups, and blogs facilitate discussions on particular subjects of mutual interest. “Some noteworthy, mostly commercial, applications in the area of Web personalization that collect information with various techniques and further adapt the services provided are among others the Broadvision’s One-To-One, Microsoft’s Firefy Passport, the Macromedia’s LikeMinds Preference Server, the Apple’s WebObjects, and so forth”. Communication via such social media platforms as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, MySpace, and LinkedIn is gradually becoming more preferable than real interactions.
The main global division occurs according to Internet projects, which subdivide the target audience into informal groups of interests, age, gender, businesses, and other characteristics. Though effectiveness of the implementation of social media in human resource management is still insufficiently studied, it is necessary to benchmark companies’ social media performance against their strongest competitors.
Today, the Internet is frequently used by HR professionals “to search for job candidates and for applicants to look for jobs”. Means of E-recruiting include web-located job boards such as Yahoo! HotJobs, and Monster, virtual recruitment agencies, employer websites with available vacancies, and professional/career websites. They provide employers with access to numerous candidates possessing desired skills and qualifications. Generally, job search on the Internet is the best way of employment today. HR practitioners utilize social media platforms in order to communicate detailed requirements for applicants, benefits of particular jobs and positions, description of a company’s specificity, careers, and advantages of working for their organization. Internet-based recruitment allows HR professionals to save time and money while searching for a candidate.
Computer-based training is generally recognized as a cost saving and efficient practice of employees’ development. In addition, today, e-learning is widely utilized in personnel-related practices. “E-learning involves receiving training via the Internet or the organization’s intranet, typically through some combination of Web-based training modules, distance learning, and virtual classrooms”. E-learning is based on delivering and sharing information via electronic networks; it is a widely available and cheap way to improve knowledge and develop skills. Furthermore, online assistantship programs, training seminars, and master classes promote professional growth of staff and, thus, contribute to business profitability. The implementation of appropriate education programs has a positive impact on an organizational structure.
Challenges of Using IT in HR Management
Despite its obvious advantages and benefits, the utilization of the information technology poses some challenges to HR professionals. Requirements to software are constantly changing; hence, it is necessary to support and expand the operating program. Moreover, employees can experience certain difficulties in utilizing new applications due to lack of knowledge and relevant training. Employees’ skills of communication, collaboration, technical ability, and adaptability are imperative to successfully perform job responsibilities while using advances in the information technology.
The report of the Australian National Audit Office on risks associated with Human Resource Information Systems identifies the following challenges:
- Inaccurate HR master data;
- Insecure HR master data;
- Inaccurately calculated termination payments and balances;
- Employee benefits are not managed or administered in conformity with Workplace
- Agreements/employee contracts
The implementation of new software appears a serious issue due to psychological peculiarities of employees and absence of motivation. IT professionals could resist utilizing new software because of additional duties and problems connected with this process. In order to facilitate the implementation of Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS) vendors should provide consumers of their IT products with references and guidelines available on the Internet and in print formats.
Moreover, Noe et al. claim that by reducing job demands and errors, technological advances made the problem worse. “Some employees try to juggle information from several sources at once—say, talking on a cell phone while typing, surfing the Web for information during a team member’s business presentation, or repeatedly stopping work on a project to check e-mail or instant messages” (2011). Such infringements can lead to potential litigation and damage to the organizational reputation.
The utilization of advances in the information technology in human resource management is an innovative process. Innovative processes provide the introduction of scientific and technical potential in order to obtain new or improved outcomes and maximize profits and benefits. The leading companies develop and utilize innovative processes in HR management based on the state-of-the-art organizational structure and advanced technologies. In order to satisfy today’s requirements, avoid unrealistic expectations and possible failures, meet possible challenges, improve business, and provide high quality services, an enterprise should implement innovations according to solid theoretical grounding and strategic planning. Every innovation is focused on the result of an applicable character, which provides certain technological, social, and economic effects. Utilizing innovative IT instruments and computer-based operational methods, HR practitioners are able to modify their practice and focus on strategic goals of their organization. Thus, the implementation of the information technology (IT) has a significantly positive effect on the performance of practices related to human resource management.