e-HRM is the use of web-based technologies to provide HRM services within employing organizations. It embraces e-recruitment and e-learning, the first fields of human resource management to make extensive use of web-based technology. From this base e-HRM has expanded to embrace the delivery of virtually all HR policies. Within a system of e-HRM, it is possible for line managers to use desktop computers to arrange and conduct appraisals, plan training and development, evaluate labour costs, and examine indicators for turnover and absenteeism. Employees can also use a system of e-HRM to plan their personal development, apply for promotion and new jobs, and access a range of information on HR policy. Systems of e-HRM are increasingly supported by dedicated software produced by private suppliers.

E-HRM is the (planning, implementation and) application of information technology for both networking and supporting at least two individual or collective actors in their shared performing of HR activities.

E-HRM is not the same as HRIS (Human resource information system) which refers to ICT systems used within HR departments. Nor is it the same as V-HRM or Virtual HRM – which is defined by Lepak and Snell as “…a network-based structure built on partnerships and typically mediated by information technologies to help the organization acquire, develop, and deploy intellectual capital.”

E-HRM is in essence the devolution of HR functions to management and employees. They access these functions typically via intranet or other web-technology channels. The empowerment of managers and employees to perform certain chosen HR functions relieves the HR department of these tasks, allowing HR staff to focus less on the operational and more on the strategic elements of HR, and allowing organisations to lower HR department staffing levels as the administrative burden is lightened.

It is anticipated that, as E-HRM develops and becomes more entrenched in business culture, these changes will become more apparent, but they have yet to be manifested to a significant degree. A 2007 CIPD survey states that “The initial research indicates that much-commented-on development such as shared services, outsourcing and e-HR have had relatively little impact on costs or staff numbers”.

Types There are three tiers of E-HRM. These are described respectively as Operational, Relational and Transformational. Operational E-HRM is concerned with administrative functions – payroll and employee personal data for example. Relational E-HRM is concerned with supporting business processes by means of training, recruitment, performance management and so forth. Transformational E-HRM is concerned with strategic HR activities such as knowledge management, strategic re-orientation. An organisation may choose to puruse E-HRM policies from any number of these tiers to achieve their HR goals.

Goals E-HRM is seen as offering the potential to improve services to HR department clients (both employees and management), improve efficiency and cost effectiveness within the HR department, and allow HR to become a strategic partner in achieving organisational goals.

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