Supporting Work-Family Amalgamation through E-HRM

Supporting Work-Family Amalgamation through E-HRM

Rebecca Nthogo Lekoko (University of Botswana, Gaborone, Botswana)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-883-3.ch120
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Abstract

Managerial practices and changes can be understood and appreciated when placed in a historical context. Kramar (2006) suggests that the starting point should be in the1980’s where issues relating to human resources in organizations were steered by managers themselves, with little or no involvement of the humans being managed. This was an instrumental management view because employees were regarded as instruments to be used to produce and deliver services for the benefit of the organization. Managers’ control of workers in ensuring high productivity was highly esteemed. Overemphasizing the role of managers meant downplaying the interests of workers being managed and holding in the highest regard job tasks and how such tasks were performed. It was a management approach that emphasized organizational needs at the expense of individual well-being. This approach attracted some criticisms.
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Introduction

Managerial practices and changes can be understood and appreciated when placed in a historical context. Kramar (2006) suggests that the starting point should be in the1980’s where issues relating to human resources in organizations were steered by managers themselves, with little or no involvement of the humans being managed. This was an instrumental management view because employees were regarded as instruments to be used to produce and deliver services for the benefit of the organization. Managers’ control of workers in ensuring high productivity was highly esteemed.

Overemphasizing the role of managers meant downplaying the interests of workers being managed and holding in the highest regard job tasks and how such tasks were performed. It was a management approach that emphasized organizational needs at the expense of individual well-being. This approach attracted some criticisms.

Among the critics was Karla (1997), who argued that the concept of human resource management (HRM) should be replaced by human potential management (HPM). Like other critics, Karla maintained that treating human beings as resources to be used, utilized, or manipulated like other resources, is demeaning. He argued that workers should be given opportunities to voice their opinions and to realize their true potentials, warning that, if this did not happen, workers might be hostile to manipulation. Friedman, Walker, and Hatch (1998) also reiterated the point that workers should not be viewed as expendable resources but rather as capital, a valuable commodity whose value can increase overtime.

Significant changes in respecting workers as capital and not as resources meant that individual differences are attended to. These differences were referred to as diversity. The manager’s role was now focused on managing this diversity. The concept of managing diversity then became a buzzword, especially in the 21st century, as a way to recognize that workers have variety of relationships with the organizations influenced by their expectations about how work and non-work life should combine. Among the critical issues of diversity these days, is the issue of how family life impacts performance at work. This article thus presents e-HRM as a reform with great potential to address family issues that impact employees’ potential to perform well.

The concept of e-HRM refers to ways of implementing HR strategies, policies, and practices through conscious and directed support of and with full use of technology-based channels (Ruël, Bondarouk, & Looise, 2004). A movement from a more traditional HRM to e-HRM allows managers to be flexible, transparent, and address individual’s needs through the use of communication support tools such as the Internet, Web sites, e-mail, and mobile telephones. Like Baum, Amoah, and Spivack (1997) suggest, quality is added to the development of workers when management leverages the use of relevant technologies to complement traditional management systems of pen and paper or face-to-face encounters that are already in greater use in many workplaces. To come up with management strategies that recognize the amalgamation of family and work is a way to address the needs of workers. Workers are like a fruit tree which needs to be nurtured well in order to have strong roots to enable it to bear good fruits. Information communication technologies (ICTs) tools can be used as some nurturing strategy for strengthening family-work interface.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Diversity: A “mix of people in one social system who have distinctly different, socially relevant group affiliations” ( Cox, 1993 ).

Family: “A place of assured safety, close relationship of mutual concern and a unit of active participation” (Diop, 1999 AU19: The in-text citation "Diop, 1999" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ).

E-HRM: A management practice that is supported by a full use of Web-technology-based communication tools such as the Internet, Web sites, e-mail, and mobile telephones.

E-Communication: Communication between managers and other workers using electronic devices such as e-mails.

ICTs: Electronic devices such as Internet, Web sites, e-mail, mobile telephones, fax, telephone, and radio.

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