Web-based human resources management systems can free HR professionals from time-consuming tasks like running weekly reports, drafting employee handbooks, orienting new hires, and even tracking vacation time. Better yet, employees can take control of their own benefits-without ever contacting the HR department, and HR staff can concentrate on more strategic tasks, such as recruiting people with needed skills and professional development of employees. Let’s take a look at the HR systems at a large corporation and several small companies.
Charles Schwab & Co. It receives 1.3 million page views per day, but it’s not Yahoo or America Online or even CNN.com. It’s an intranet created by Charles Schwab & Co. that enables Schwab’s 23,000 employees to access detailed HR information about benefits, training, computer support, and scads of company information.
“As a company, we’re very committed to using technology to benefit our customers and to provide good services to our employees,” says Anne Barr, vice president of the intranet initiative known throughout the company as the “Schweb.” The Schweb provides managers with online access to accurate information about employees. Because the directory is online, it’s a lot easier to update and maintain than a set of desktop applications, notes Barr.
The intranet provides employees with more personalized information about themselves, their roles, and the organization than they’d otherwise be able to obtain from the company’s human resources department. “The other benefit is that it helps employees find the information they need faster and serve customers faster, more effectively,” says Barr. There are now 30 HR applications that link into the Schweb, including the Learning Intranet, an application that helps manage training for Schwab’s 24,000 customer-facing employees, and eTimesheets, which employees use to manage their own vacation time. The productivity benefits alone from the use of the Schweb are huge. Schwab is saving hundreds of thousands of dollars annually by having employees fill out benefit forms online using an application called eForms, says Barr.
Small Business. While the number of businesses using Web-based human resources systems is still relatively small, some companies, such as OneWorkplace, an office space design firm and furniture retailer in Milpitas, California, are catching on to their benefits. “We’ve reduced our administrative workloads by about 65 percent,” says Jeffrey Crocker, executive director of human resources. “Now we can focus on more proactive tasks, such as developing training profiles for each position in our organisation. I’m paying good wages to our HR people to do senior-level work and now I’m letting them do that, rather than forcing them to focus on boring paperwork.”
What’s more, when an employee leaves the company, an HR system can expedite the paper-intensive process, including issuing final paychecks and tallying vacation compensation. For ex, when a claim comes in from COBRA-an insurance extension program-One Workplace’s Crocker doesn’t need to search his files. The company’s MyHRIS system takes care of it. “The idea of not having to remember-if I called this manager, made sure I got this letter back, and signed off on this or that-is so reassuring,” he says.
Web-based HR solutions offer more advanced options by transferring tedious paperwork online. Julie Boisselle, office manager for Genalytics, an e-commerce marketing software firm in Newburyport, Massachusetts, used to keep a spreadsheet to track employees’ vacation time-a method she admits wasn’t working. “We kept having the problem of people using up more vacation time than they’d accrued and then leaving the company,” she says. But with help from eBenefits’ VirtualHR service, Genalytics’ employees no longer vacation on borrowed time. “Now the system automatically circulates vacation time each month and my only job is to deduct time when they take it,” she says.
Web-based tools also update managers on key employee development milestones. For ex, at BuildNet, a construction management software developer in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, when an employee is due for a raise, the reporting tools in NuView Systems’ MyHRIS notify the correct supervisor. “Before, when using an Excel spreadsheet, it involves a lot of tracking employees down to ask them problems and filling out forms,” says David Russo, executive vice president of human resources. “Now it’s much more click-and-go because there’s just one place to input and manage all your HR information-it’s like having an extra, efficient employee.”
problem 1: What key HR applications are provided by the Web-based systems for the companies in this case? What are some other Web-based HR applications that they might implement?
problem 2: What is the business value of the Schweb intranet to Charles Schwab & Co.?
problem 3: What are the business benefits of the Web-based HR applications used by the three small companies in this case?
problem 4: Briefly describe the six major types of information systems used in organizations.