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    Implications of the Internet for Human Resource Activities

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    Just a few years ago, computer technology offered a revolutionary change in human resource managment. Organizations experimented with computerized skills inventories, pay and benefits administration, and applicant tracking systems. Today, the revolution continues but is undergoing fundamental changes as computer technology and the internet grow at unprecedented rates. Human resource management is moving away from a mainframe technology to the world of wirtual reality, with the internet at its core. Although many forces drive this change, one of the most important is the globalization of business. As organizations spread their operations and personnel worldwide, the need for a truly global, integrated human resource information system has reached critical levels. The most obvious answer-virtual human resource management on the World Wide Web.

    Surveys indicate that in the past year alone, the percentage of U.S. companies using the Web for its HR system has almost doubled. As recently as 1997, approximately 27 percent of surveyed organizations reported such use. Now that number has reached 50 percent, and almost 75 percent of organizations indicate they plan to integrate their HR activities with the Web sometime during the next two years.

    The most common uses of the internet in human resource planning are in corporate communications, applicant and resume tracking, and benefits and retirement planning. In the area of recruiting. Humana Inc. has created one of the most advanced applicant identification and tracking systems in the world. Humana is an HMO with approximately 20,000 employees and 6 million subscribers. Their human resource recruiters can rapidly identify, contract, and track qualified applicants for virtually any job opening in their organization. Their success revolves around a specialized software application, Softshoe Select, provided by and linked to Hotjobs.com. This software automatically searches millions of individual Web pages looking for resumes that meet any need that Humana may have. While setup costs are relatively large (a one-time fee of 50,000 for licensing and configuration in addition to a 2,000 per month lease), organizations such as Humana find that the costs are well worth the efforts. Humana, for expample, estimates that it previously spent an average of 128 in advertising to find a single qualified applicant's resume. Today the estimate that the cost is approximately .06. For Humana, that translate into an annual savings of 8.3 million.

    The internet is also helping revolutionize a number of other human resource planning activities for many organizations. citbank, for example, has a single global HRIS that maintains a detailed skills inventory, compensation database, and HR practices for 98 countries and 10,000 managerial personnel worldwide. Numerous other global employers at shell Oil Company manage their retirement plans, maintain and/or change health care coverage, and track other personall relevant information all through an automated, self-service system.

    Use of the internet in these kinds of human resource planning activities is not, however, without danger. The ease of access to so much information always has the potential to creat both legal and ethical abuse, both by employees and by external "hackers," or unauthorized users of the system. Organizations must take all necessary precautions to safeguard the privacy and integrity of these virtual human resource systems. The challenges are immense, but the organizational consequences can be invaluable.


    Question: What are the legal and ethical issues surrounding the use of the internet by individual employees for human resource activities? Are you concerned about violations of your own privacy because of these kinds of web applications?

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    Interesting questions! Please see response attached (some of it is presented below). Good luck with your studies and take care.


    Question: What are the legal and ethical issues surrounding the use of the internet by individual employees for human resource activities?


    As mentioned in the above paragraph, the main ethical and legal issues have to do with privacy and confidentiality of the information collected about employees and other applicants, and the implications and consequences of hackers stealing the information (i.e., identity theft is on the rise). HIPPA (1996) is an Act regulated by law to protect the privacy of the medical records of patients, for example, and HCOs must follow certain privacy techniques to ...

    Solution Summary

    This solution identifies and discusses the legal and ethical issues surrounding the use of the internet by individual employees for human resource activities. It also explores potential reasons to be concerned about violations of privacy because of these kinds of web applications.