Online Employee Management: Should Your Firm Follow the Trend?

Business.com / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Herds of businesses are investing in online employee management to track HR functionalities. Should your company follow suit?

Sure, it took us a while. But we've finally reached the point in time where the Internet is good for more than just wasting time on Facebook.

We’re kidding, but on more serious note, modern companies are increasingly investing in online management tools to track their human resources. And it has more of an impact than just minimizing paperwork.

Online employee management saves time and effort for managers, employees and HR staff alike. But, as with any automated technology, these tools are far from perfect. While most are extremely capable, few replace the need for face-to-face interactions. Performance reviews, issue resolution and other crucial manager-employee interactions are just less productive – and less effective – with screen in the way.

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So, do the benefits outweigh the drawbacks when it comes to online employee management? We’ve come up with a few pros and cons to help you decide what's right for your business.

The Pros

The advantages of online employee management are numerous. One of the most obvious? It allows you to keep up with your staff's history more accurately and efficiently. 

Your employees have personalities, skill sets, employment histories and other unique considerations that impact the way they work and how you employ them. You need an organized way to track all of that. Whereas traditional recordkeeping often becomes harder to organize as you insert tax documents, performance reviews and other annotations, its modern digital counterpart isn’t nearly as frustrating to deal with. 

Online employee management renders records even more accessible by letting business owners take information about their companies anywhere they go, a huge advantage for decision makers. For instance, trying to win new client accounts during power lunches might be much easier for a business owner who can take a quick glance at her employees' project skills on her phone. When combined with comprehensive back end development and mobile-ready functionality, online HR management often fosters huge boosts in productivity.

Another big benefit? Many online employee management systems come equipped with employee self-service portals, allowing employees to access everything from schedules to paystubs to benefits enrollment information on their own devices – and on their own time. This saves HR staff members and managers major time when it comes to approving PTO requests, fielding schedule inquiries and more.

Remember that as time goes on, you may notice fewer and fewer of your workers hanging around the office – remote work is becoming more and more popular, even in big business. As new technology and new business models create new corporate structures and practices, taking your HR work online may be the only way to cope.

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The Cons

Okay, great – you can immediately store a performance review and access it from anywhere, or create a file about an employee issue that was resolved. The only problem? As firms move away from traditional office structures and business practices, it could become more and more difficult to generate those records in the first place.

Without personal, face-to-face interaction, things like performance reviews and feedback sessions lose some of their impact. For instance, conflict resolutions, which typically benefit from the presence of an impartial moderator, are much more difficult to conduct via Skype chats or conference calls. In some cases, trying to take such interactions online could even escalate situations and prompt negative reactions from employees who feel that they deserve more personal treatment.

Another workplace interaction that’s best left face-to-face? Performance reviews. Although many aspects of the review process, including self and peer assessments, can (and should) take place online, the actual conversation between a manager and his or her employee needs to happen face to face. Reviews should be impactful conversations about performance, goals, concerns and more. That can’t happen effectively over the phone.

Finding a Happy Medium

Fortunately, online employee management doesn't have to be an either/or situation. By simply adapting your technology to your firm's culture, you can improve employee-employer relations – even as you transform the way you operate.

Meaningful interactions are important, so always dedicate time to strengthening the professional and personal connections within your organization. Try to set up face-to-face meetings whenever possible, and make sure your employees are well-versed in and fully comfortable with any new technology you bring on. Integrate your time-saving software into standard HR processes, and avoid ruffling any feathers along the way.

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