E-HR expands but staff fail to log on

A predicted surge of investment on e-HR could be wasted if HR departments do
not do more to encourage employees to embrace the technology.

A survey by Watson Wyatt finds that 75 per cent of companies plan to enhance
their use of e-HR over the next two years to enable HR departments to become
more strategic.

But the poll of 173 European-based HR professionals also shows that although
nine out of 10 companies provide access to the HR intranet, many staff do not
use existing e-HR systems.

Last year BP Amoco said its HR costs had increased by a third after the
introduction of e-HR, largely because staff were reluctant to use the
technology, resulting in duplication of methods.

The study also finds that 25 per cent of firms surveyed are to invest more
than 11 per cent of their HR budgets in e-HR and one in 10 departments aim to
invest more than a quarter.

At the report’s launch last week HR professionals were warned the large
investment would only be worthwhile if companies personalise e-HR by making it
interactive, so staff can change benefits or holidays online.

Dave Hodgson, HR intranet project manager at the BBC, believes e-HR usage
can be improved by ensuring it provides the information staff want.

He said: "The low usage finding is true. Some employees feel confident
using it and others do not. About half of the BBC’s employees use the HR
intranet, but this has been a gradual increase over the past four years. It is
a culture change that we have managed by including personalised information on
the site."

Jennifer Schram, training and development advisor at the CIPD, agrees that
staff would only embrace e-HR when it is customised to employees’ individual
needs. "It is true that e-HR does not receive a big take-up. E-HR must
benefit employees; that is the way that employees will interact with it,"
she said.

James Markham, partner at Watson Wyatt and the report’s author, said that to
increase usage employers must invest in what employees want to use instead of
what the business needs to reduce administration.

By Paul Nelson

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