Technology advances have dramatically affected the ways in which we manage and organize work. With new evolutions of technologically mediated systems, the development of electronic human resource management (e-HRM) practices becomes more accepted for many organizations. For example, on the one hand, organizations have been able to extend job searches to attract new employees from around the globe using the World Wide Web. This recruitment feature has provided matches of special skilled workers with employers and has lessened recruitment costs for other searches for less skilled positions by bringing potential candidates directly to the organization. On the other hand, HRIS technologies within operation structures such as call centers have been tightly integrated into e-HRM practices creating heavily defined performance management systems. The developments in the call center area specifically have resulted in an interesting convergence of HRIS and HR architectures to explore lessons learned and future directions in e-HRM. The purpose of this article is to first provide a background of the call center developments over the past 15 years in light of e-HRM. Specifically, a focus on the technological advancements in call center operations will be overlaid with the developments of e-HRM practices to reveal the ways in which both are integrated and implemented to create an end-to-end process. The second focus of this article is on the development of performance management HR practices such as electronic performance monitoring (EPM), e-coaching, and e-learning using HRIS integrations. Although in many ways this integrated e-HRM model has improved organization performance and effectiveness, there have also been other implications resulting in negative affects on performance outcomes such as turnover, job satisfaction, and customer satisfaction. So finally, this article will draw out the lessons learned from the call center model and e-HRM with a focus on the balance between human resource management practices and operational structural design.
Call centers make an ideal environment to draw out critical insights about e-HRM due to the wide reach these models have across various industries. Over the past 15 years, this model has dramatically transformed the nature of work from one of an autonomous role with complexity to a more structured one with defined rules. The technologies introduced in these environments have provided a direct linkage to HRM practices and have been integrated as a standard of call center operating practices in many cases. Thus, examining this case of e-HRM assists us to understand the impact on performance outcomes.
Over the past several decades, the introduction of technological advancements in telecommunications and information technology (IT) has vastly enhanced the ability for organizations to transform the ways in which business is done. These advancements have enabled the re-engineering and/or exporting of call center operations around the globe, increasing employment growth in many regions such as the United States, Britain, Canada, and India (Aberdeen, 2003; Datamonitor, 2004; Metagroup, 2005). This growth of call center operations and the accompanying employment surge has been closely linked to the development of a call center management model which has significantly changed the nature of work in such environments (Bain & Taylor, 2000, 2004; Batt, 1999). From an HR perspective, the adoption and integration of such technological advancements within the call center environment have enabled organizations to develop processes for performance management, create succinct job analysis and design, incorporate dynamic training modules, and establish targeted recruitment practices. From an operational perspective, this adoption has allowed for the integration of practices, such as industrial engineering and mass production principles, to simplify the service delivery process and streamline work to create more routine job designs (Batt, 2002; Ellis & Taylor, 2006).