Fairly recently numerous technological applications have emerged, claiming to cover nearly every “traditional” human resources management (HRM) activity; not only complementing it, but often even substituting it (Martin, Alexander, Reddington, & Pate, 2006). In order to meet the demands of today’s knowledge-based economy, companies must maximize the potential and productivity of their employees, a goal towards which HRM information systems in general and e-HRM in particular could help. Some of these applications even claim that they can achieve synergies that were not possible before, by integrating all the HRM functions under one software suite, and combining results and feedback from all their different applications. In this article, we study the adoption of e-HRM in Europe, looking at three mail elements: the extent of e-HRM deployment, the characteristics of the companies that adopt e-HRM, and the level of satisfaction from the system.
The term e-HRM was first used in the 1990s and refers to conducting HRM activities using the Internet or the Intranet (Lengnick-Hall & Moritz, 2003). As the term was inspired by the popular term of e-commerce, it wrongfully adopted the “e-” prefix, signifying “electronic.” Since e-HRM is very specific to the use of the Net, a more accurate term would be “online HRM.” Although e-HRM is particularly Web-oriented, a total e-HRM system may include enterprise resource planning software (ERP), HRM shared service centers, interactive voice response systems, manager and employee portals, and Web applications
Strohmeier (2007) defines e-HRM as the application of information technology for networking and supporting at least two individual or collective actors in their shared performing of HRM activities. He notes that in e-HRM, technology serves both as a medium, connecting spatially segregated actors, and as a tool for task fulfillment, as it supports actors by substituting for them in executing HRM activities. E-HRM is considered to have the potential to lower administrative costs, increase productivity, speed response times, improve decision making, and enhance customer service, thus helping HRM to become more strategic, flexible, cost-efficient, and customer-oriented (Shrivastava & Shaw, 2003).
According to its primary focus, three functions of e-HRM have been identified (Lengnick-Hall & Moritz, 2003; Walker, 2001):
Publishing of information. It involves one-way communication from the company to the employees or managers. In this form of e-HRM, the company uses the Intranet as the primary information delivery medium
Automation of transactions, with integration of workflow. In this form of e-HRM, paperwork is replaced by electronic input. Intranets and Extranets are used, frequently combining several different application programs.
Transformation of the HRΜ function. In this form, e-HRM liberates the human resources function from its operational focus and redirects it toward a strategic one. Under this form, HRM takes up the following tasks: partnering with the line, creating centers of expertise, and service center administration. This form of e-HRM is rare even in countries like the USA, which are very advanced in HRM (Lengnick-Hall & Moritz, 2003; Walker, 2001).
Another classification of e-HRM is based on the advancement of the tools it uses, in comparison with traditional HR. This distinction has been expressed in three generations of e-HRM (Evans, Pucik, & Barsoux, 2002), namely: