As more human resources departments employ electronic management systems, the potential for pitfalls increases. There are advantages to streamlining HR tasks through the use of information and management systems. However, when weighing the pros and cons of installing such software, inform your decision by first learning about some of the disadvantages of electronic HR automation.
One of the chief disadvantages of HR management systems is the increased capacity for breaches in the privacy of your employees, management and business officials. In spite of federal and state laws providing legal protection for privacy in the workplace, if your HR management system is accessed by unauthorized individuals, your team’s personal information may be up for grabs. Although your system may be safeguarded by password protection, this barrier is often no match for technically savvy people from inside and outside your company’s walls. Fortifying your system internally and externally augments the safety of your data.
On par with ruptures in privacy protection are fissures in the security system protecting your HR management software. Technical wizards abound who possess the talent and skills required to enter your management system and mine it for all the information your company holds dear, such as your business's HR strategy for future company growth. Additionally, electronic media is vulnerable to attack by viruses from anywhere on the Internet. Contracting a virus can disable your HR management system severely enough to render it unusable for an indeterminate time. Supplementary to purchasing a solid back-up application, a simultaneous decision should be made to invest in a virtually attack-proof program that protects your HR management data from encroachment.
Inherent in the use of HR management systems is the means for inaccuracy. Because computers and their associated programs are only as effective as their human users, data entry errors can and do occur. In HR management systems, such errors can have grave consequences. At best, minimal errors, such as a few misspelled employees’ names, may occur. At worst, errors in data entry could disrupt the workflow of your business. If, for example, your HR management system displays a number of incorrect dates designating when to carry out significant employee performance reviews with ensuing promotions, the adverse results may include a contagious drop in employee morale, which could affect levels of productivity.
HR management systems can be effective in selecting employees for certain positions or for advancement, based on performance scores and other information. However, the human factor is removed from these types of tasks by the system. For example, when analyzing employee talent, your system may reveal high scores in sales, new accounts or marketing efforts, but may not be capable of uncovering an employee’s habit of treating customers in disparaging ways. To realize the total evaluation of a staff member, an HR management system should have some way to prompt human input.
Integrated with all computers and software are the inevitable issues that cause technical difficulties. HR management systems are equally susceptible to down time, with possibly dire consequences. These can include bringing a critical business activity to a halt if employee data is not accessible. For example, if your HR professionals have scheduled a day devoted to open enrollment for a new employee health plan, the inability to access your HR management system’s data could not only delay enrollment in the health program but could feasibly push open enrollment out for weeks or months, leaving eligible staff members without coverage. Concerns such as this can be minimized by policies calling for ongoing focused technical system maintenance.
Michelle Reynolds has been writing about business, careers and art since 1993. She was the publisher of a newsletter, “Working Parents Monthly," as well as a graphic design guidebook. Reynolds also served as human-resources director at a resort/spa for eight years. She is an artist and promotes the arts and other artists through ElegantArtisan.com, a website she developed and maintains.