e-HRM areas

As said earlier, e-HRM has been suffering a very significant evolution in the last decades, spreading to more and more HRM areas or processes, making it possible to find in the literature references to technology use, particularly web-based technology, in different areas such as wage processing, HR planning, recruitment and selection, benefits and compensation, politics, internal communication, training and development, or performance appraisal. However, and it is understandable, in some of these processes, e-HRM is more common than in others, and the interest from the researchers is also different.

As expected, more common applications of information systems to HRM are mainly related to more administrative tasks such as salary processing and employees' database management (Lee, 2007; Ngai & Wat, 2006; Ruel et al., 2004; Strohmeier, 2009). Today, there are few (or none) organizations that manually work on their salary processing, without the more or less complex information system's help. On the other hand, the use of platforms that are available on the Internet (called in the literature as "self-service technologies" or "HR portals") is common, which involves employees in HR planning tasks, making it easy to access and update their information (previously available only on "paper" in HR departments) and increasing, on its side, data correctness, leading to time and cost reduction on the HRM side (Chakrabortya & Mansor, 2013).

Supporting other HR processes, communication (internal and external) is also one of the areas where e-HRM is disseminated, with the very common use of e-mails, intranet, and blogs/forums in any context, facilitating communication among the different organizational actors (Panayotopoulou, Vakola, & Galanaki, 2007).

Beyond administrative tasks and communication, e-recruitment, a recruitment process that appeals to the Internet, e-mail, and corporate websites or job portals (Galanaki, 2002), is undoubtedly the most disseminated e-HRM application area (Eckhardt et al., 2014). With trivialization of the Internet use, in a professional context, more and more organizations spread online job offers (e.g., in their corporate website, job portals, social networks), make online platforms for job application submissions available, or receive curricula vitae by e-mail. On the other hand, there are also more and more candidates that appeal to these same platforms through job posting research and application.

According to Furtmueller, Wilderom, and Tate (2011), in 2011, 40,000 job platforms were permanently available online, and all of the Top 100 international organizations, according to Fortune, recruit online. In Portugal, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE), in 2013, 24.5% of organizations with more than 10 employees make recruitment offers and forms available at their corporate website. On the other hand, about 23.2% of Portuguese between 16 and 74 years old use the Internet in the first 3 months of the year in order to find a job, respond to job announcements, or send spontaneous applications (INE, 2014). Although the risk of overload of HR departments with curricula vitae is clear, e-recruitment has advantages in terms of time, costs, and candidate diversity that allow to attract potential employees (Ensher, Nielson, & Grant-Vallone, 2002; Nesbeitt, 1999).

Directly related to e-recruitment, although less studied and used, e-selection (the use of web tools to select candidates, namely, curriculum vitae selection made by informatics programs through research by keywords, tests and online application, and videoconferences, among others) has aroused interest in some researchers, as it also reduces the costs and the time spent in HR selection and at the same time facilitates this process in situations where long distances separate the candidate from the organization (Panayotopoulou et al., 2007). Furthermore, many organizations believe that e-selection might be greatly utilized in the future (Chapman & Webster, 2003).

Another area where e-HRM is prevalent is "training." E-mail and the Internet can be easily used to identify training needs, reduce costs (e.g., with paper) and time and also raise the response rate (McClelland, 1994). The only inconvenience is the possible doubts from the inquirer about the preservation of their anonymity (Panayotopoulou et al., 2007).

On the other hand, the Internet and the intranet have also transformed e-learning (electronic learning) as an interesting alternative or complement to face-to-face training. Just do a quick search in a search engine to find dozens of course offers or workshops via e-learning; besides, e-learning platforms are also, nowadays, very common in the academic environment. In 2003, the American Society to Training and Development (presently Talent Management Association) presented the results of a survey according to which 95% of respondents reported using some form of e-learning in their organizations (Ellis, 2003, quoted by DeRouin, Fritzsche, & Salas, 2005).

Despite the lack of consensus about e-learning definition, we can consider it as "the process by which the student learns through contents placed in the computer and/or Internet and where a professor, if existing, is at a distance using the Internet as a way to communicate (synchronously or asynchronously) being able to develop intermediate face to face sessions" (Leal & Amaral, 2006, p. 4). By allowing access to training to employees anywhere in the world and reducing costs associated with face-to-face training, e-learning has become a very common practice (Salas, DeRouin, & Littrell, 2005, quoted by Stone & Dulebohn, 2013).

Finally, two other areas of e-HRM application, clearly less studied and about which we have less information, are compensation and benefits management (named by some authors as "e-compensation") and performance appraisal.

Regarding the first one, it is known that some organizations allow their employees (through the so-called self-service platforms) to define their preferences in terms of compensation and benefits, thereby freeing, in some way, HR professionals. On the other hand, top management can also (through the same type of platforms, this time, called "manager selfservice") consult information about their employees' salaries and benefits and make decisions in this respect (e.g., confirm or authorize actions at this level) (Panayotopoulou et al., 2007).

With regard to performance appraisal, e-HRM has allowed, in some organizations, all processes to be conducted online, taking into account that the appraised and the appraiser fulfill directly in the platforms their auto and hetero appraisal forms, respectively. Besides, these platforms allow employees to control their performance and the management to consult information about how to conduct a performance appraisal process or which criterion and measures to consider with each function or job as well as to consult examples and models of effective appraisals (Adamson & Zampetti, 2001, quoted by Panayotopoulou et al., 2007). Moreover, this practice allows the HR department to reduce time and costs (Panayotopoulou et al., 2007).

 
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