Creating High Performance Work systems

The emphasis on strategic human resource management is one change in what human resource managers do; a focus on productivity and performance is another. More globalization means more competition and more competition means more pressure to lower costs and to make employees more productive. Most human resource professionals recognize the need to focus on performance. When asked to rate the importance of various business issues in one survey, their top five choices were competition for market share, price competition / price control, governmental regulations, need for sales growth, and needed to increase productivity.

We will see that effective human resource management practices can improve performance in three main ways, in particular through the use of technology, through effective human resource practices (such as testing and training) and by instituting high performance work systems.

Managing with Technology:

Technological applications improve HR’s performing in four main ways: self service, call centers, productivity improvement, and outsourcing. For example, using Dell’s human resources intranet, the firm’s employees can self service many of their personnel transactions, such as updating personal information and changing benefits allocations. Technology also enabled Dell to create a centralized human resources call center. Here Dell human resource specialists answer questions from all, Dell’s far flung employees, reducing the need for human resource departments at each Dell location.

More firms are installing Internet and computer based systems for improving HR productivity. For example, International Paper Corp.’s Viking human resources information system aimed to move the company’s HR staff to employee ratio from about one to 100, to one to 150.

Outsourcing: Letting outside vendors provide services.

Technology also makes it easier to outsource HR activities to specialists service providers, by giving service providers real time. Internet based access tasks to the employers are outsourcing are payroll, benefits, applicant testing and screening reference checks, exit interviews, wellness programs, and employee training.

In India, the evolution of the HR function has led to the growth of specialized firms offering support to organizations, both in the transactional aspects of HRM and highly specialized services requiring expertise. For example, Manpower Inc., Kelly Services, Team Lease Services, Ma Foi Management Consultants, and many others provide temporary staffing services in India. Numerous firms also provide recruitment and training support to Indian organizations. Such firms range from subsidiaries of global HR consulting companies, like Hewitt Associates and the Hay Group, to firms comprising a few freelancers.

Technological Applications for HR:

Application Service Providers (ASPs) and technology outsourcing>

ASPs provide software applications for instance, for processing employment applications. The ASPs host and manage the services for the employer from their own remote computers.

Web portals>

Employers use these, for instance, to enable employees to sign up for and manage their own benefits packages and to update their personal PCs and high speed access.

Make it easier for employees to take advantage of the employers Web assisted HR activities.

Streaming desktop video:

Used, for instance, to facilitate distance learning and training or to provide corporate information to employees quickly and inexpensively

The mobile Web and wireless net access>

Used to facilitate employees’ access to the company’s web based HR activities.

Internet and network monitoring>

Used to track employees’ Internet and e-mail activities or to monitor their performance.


A special wireless technology used to synchronize various electronic tools like cellular phones and PCs and thus facilitate employees’ access to the employer’s online HR services.

Electronic signatures>

Legally valid e-signatures that the employer can use to more expeditiously obtain signatures for applications and record keeping.

Electronic bill presentment and payment>

Used, for instance, to eliminate paper checks and to facilitate payments to employees and suppliers

Date warehouses and computerized analytical programs>

Help HR managers monitor their HR systems. For example, they make it easier to assess things like cost per hire, and to compare current employees’ skills with the firm’s projected strategic needs.