Information technology has changed the facet of everyday life. From the information super high way of the World Wide Web and innovations of computer technology, American culture and society revolves around data systems and applications. Today, people can gather resources and information instantly and with considerable ease. Smart phone applications, social websites, and computer programing has caused many to depend on these technologies and use them to store and retrieve information. People use online banking to keep up with their finances or social media to communicate with others across the globe. The convenience and easy accessibility of data and information has also emerged within the corporate sector. Many businesses and organizations depend on information technology to establish, sustain, and maintain success and profitability. As a result, technology and data information systems have become an intricate part of business, particularly in the department of human resources management. Human resources technology has improved the way managers meet the business goals of an organization. They are able to access information, store critical data, and ensure the quality and efficiency of human capitol. Information technology and computer applications and programs have especially encouraged how human resources departments provide, maintain, and distribute employee benefits. Google Inc. provides one such example. Through innovation technology and computer programing, Google Inc. is able to swiftly and affectively process employee benefits, creating a competitive advantage, fundamental to employee satisfaction and retention. By examining and analyzing the influences that information technology has on Google’s structure and organization, one can better assess the role these innovations have on human capital and human resources management.
Role of HRIS
Data information technology plays a significant role in the human resources department at Google Inc. The relationship between human resources and data information has developed a new term and concept throughout the department of personal. This is referred to as Human Resources Information Systems or HRIS. “The human resources information system is a software or online solution for the data entry, data tracking, and data information needs of the HR payroll, management, and accounting functions within a business”, (Heathfield, 2010). It is also a fundamental function of distribution and the organization of employee benefits. Employee benefits are maintained by the human resources departments as it directly relates to employees. At an innovative organization like Google Inc., employee benefits come in many forms and “is an intricate part… of employee compensation and is a major element in the retention strategy of any organization that is trying to maintain the highest level of competence”, (“HR Council”, 2012). To maintain, organize, and distribute employee benefits, human resources must depend on data storage and information technology. With the help of software applications, HR managers can access and organize information with ease. This is especially important in a large corporation such as Google who has thousands of employees worldwide. To maintain the storage of employee benefits for a large employee base, computer software, applications, systems, and programs work hand in hand with human resources management. “A system used to acquire, store, manipulate, analyze, retrieve, and distribute information regarding an organization… HRIS is not simply computer hardware and software, it is also includes people, forms, policies and procedures, and data”, (Kavanagh, Thite & Johnson, 2012).
All businesses and organizations are mandated to provide employee benefits by law. However, at Google, employee benefits are a focal point of employee satisfaction and retention. Employee benefits come in many forms. This includes providing health care, retirement plans, and vacation time. Employee benefits can also come in other forms such as tuition reimbursement, free parking, and other forms of non- tax compensation. To ensure that all employees are treated fairly and equally, receiving the appropriate benefits as it relates to their career, computer technology must be used. Human resources managers are able to track employ information, accesses and distribute employee benefits, and ensure quality of employee benefits packages. Without the use of computer technology and software applications, this would prove to be a daunting task. Human resources information systems, “tracks attendance, PTO use, pay raises and history pay grades and positions held, performance development, training, disciplinary action application tracking and interview selection… anything the company needs to track and analyze about employees, former employees, and applicants”, (Heathfield, 2010). Innovation in data storage and information technology has made software systems and programs an intricate part of human resources. It has created a unique relationship, or marriage, between human resources and information technology. To maintain, organize, track, and access employee information and employee benefits, human resources must be aware of the important role of information technology. “As collaboration and innovation accelerate, thanks to new enabling technologies, elements of the HR and IT functions will integrate and HR and IT roles will shift as they adjust to the ideas economy”, (Harrington, 2010).
Human resources information technology plays a significant role in human resources management. It makes storing and retrieving information easy and managers entering the field of human resources must be aware of and familiar with this relationship. “The goal of HRM is to maximize the productivity of an organization by optimizing the effectiveness of its employees while simultaneously improving the work life of employees and treating employees as valuable resources”, (Mote, 2012). The use of HRIS makes this possible. Mangers are able to perform various duties that help maintain and organize the storage of critical information. HRIS allows managers to:
- Manage employee info
- Manage company related documents
- Benefit administration including enrollment, status changes, and personal information updating
- Allow integration with payroll and other company financial software and accounting systems, (Heathfield, 2010).
Influence of HRIS in Organizations
Due to the relationship between human resources management and information technology, HRIS has a pertinent role in influencing business trends, issues, and opportunities. Currently, Google prides its self on employee retention and satisfaction. Forbes magazine rated Google as the number one sought after company to work for and two years in a row Google employees agreed, (Gupta, 2009). Employee benefits have played a large role in Google’s ability to hire and retain employees and have, “consistently ranked benefits among top contributors to employee satisfaction”, (Kennedy & Malveaux, 2011). Google has emerged as a leading competitor in employee benefits and works diligently to seek out the best and the brightest to join their innovative team. Google offers benefits to employees that is unmatched by other competitors in the industry. While other companies strive to satisfy and exhibit quality care to human capital, Google has gone above and beyond to meet the needs of employees. “Our benefits are part of who we are, and they’re designed to take care of the whole you and keep you healthy, whether physically, emotionally, financially, or socially”, (“Google Benefits”, 2012).
While Google provides the lowest salary payout to employees compared to other companies, the benefits to working at Google more than makes up for monetary compensation. Google has a large corporate office known as Googleplex where employees have access to new and immerging technologies. Here employees are encouraged to collaborate, communicate, and discover ways to maintain Google’s competitive advantage. The benefits of working at Google are extensive and profound, unmatched by no other company in the industry. The current trend at Google is to encourage employees to “become a better person by working here”, (“Google Benefits”, 2012). The happier the employee, the increase in output of production and new discoveries and innovations. While other companies provide basic employee benefits packages including 401K and standard medical benefits, Google does more to innovate and encourage human capital by offering “a number of benefit programs and onsite amenities to support you and situations”, (“Google Benefits”, 2012). This includes:
- Onsite physicians and nurses
- Convenient medical service
- Comprehensive healthcare coverage
While other organizations continue to limit medical coverage and support, Google extends their medical insurance coverage to provide health services to fit the needs of everyone, including offering services to alternative lifestyles. As a result, Google provides medical coverage to employees and their same sex partners. They continue to support diversity and equality, specifically within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered community. “They expanded their transgender benefits to include cover of procedures like facial feminization and pectoral implants”, (Wilford, 2012). In an era where gays and lesbians continue to struggle for equal rights such as gay marriage, providing coverage to this alternative community is unprecedented. As other companies struggle to compensate and get on board with employee retention through benefits and service, Google is a leader in satisfaction through their ability to demonstrate care, quality, and value of their employees.
The use of HRIS allows Google to provide exceptional employee benefits packages by organizing, updating, and maintaining employee benefits and services. The phenomenal benefits package at Google is full of opportunities unmatched by other employers. For example, this decade has observed “financial and compensation benefits… experienced considerable declines”, (Malveaux & Kennedy, 2011). This is seen in multiple areas including in educational assistance programs, legal assistance, professional development opportunities, mentoring programs, and travel planning services. However, at Google, this has had a reverse affect. Google offers employees reimbursement for their education such as college courses and degree programs. In addition the company provides legal advice to their employees at no cost, (“Google Benefits”, 2012). They have multiple programs on site, to provide opportunities to employees for employee development. Google engineers are encouraged to take classes, seminars, and lectures to update employees on new developments in software, programing, applications, and computer technology. This ensures that all employees can help Google maintain its competitive advantage as an innovator and remain in the top of its class as an online search engine.
The company goes even further to provide a unique service opportunity to employees by creating the “20% time program”. The program, “allows its employees to use up to 20% of their work week at Google to pursue special projects”, (Strickland, 2009). Special projects are driven by employee interest and creativity. Many new programs and ideas were developed through the 20% time program. Opportunities such as this work to the benefit of both Google and its employees. Employees are able to take on projects that peeks their interest and passion, while Google is able to reap from the benefits for employee creativity. This is especially unique and full of opportunities in the industry, when other companies struggle to listen to their employees, such as advise, innovations, or ideas that can help improve the organization productivity or profitability. As a result Google “provides everything possible to keep these geeks motivated to work on novel and creative pursuits”, (Gupta, 2009). Without the use of HRIS systems, it would be difficult for Google to ensure that the 20% time program does not turn into the 40% time program. It also ensures that employees aren’t taking advantage of the exceptional benefits and that all employees receive the same opportunities available. At Google, “benefits are designed to encourage collaboration, to break down barriers between functions and to stimulate individual creativity and innovation”, (Sullivan, 2006).
Despite the exceptional benefits found at Google, some of their employee benefits come with problems, issues, and concerns. Google offers various benefits to growing families. “New parents get time off and some extra spending money”, (“Google Benefits”, 2012). Not only do new parents receive time off they receive time off for up to 18 weeks with full pay. Fathers are also allowed time off for up to 6 weeks with full pay (Casserly, 2012). Once Google babies grow into Google toddlers, the company continues to provide benefits to the children and their family. This can be observed in Google’s daycare facility and “Kinderplex”, both are offsite educational facilities. These facilities, “was never free, but Google subsidized it so that more Google employees could take advantage of the program”, (“Google Benefits”, 2012). All of these benefits at Google are very expensive to the organization. Offering employees full time pay when out of work for weeks at a time takes a lot of profit away from the organization.
Offering free meals and snacks is also a perk to Google, and although the company refuses to say how much they spend to feed employees six days a week, three meals a day including snacks, it is estimated that the company spends over 30 million a year to feed nearly 40 thousand employees, prepared by professional chefs. This is just one of many benefits offered at Google that is costly, over reaching, and over indulging on employees that can accumulate billions annually just to provide these services. Another costly benefit that has Google employees rejoicing is their life insurance program. When a Google employee dies, no matter the circumstances, their “spouse or domestic partner will continue to receive 50% of your salary for an entire decade”, (Wolford, 2012). To further help grieving families, “surviving spouses will see all stocks vested immediately and any children will receive $1,000 monthly payment from the company until they reach the age of 19 (or 23 if the child is a fulltime student)”, (Casserly, 2012). Google is heavily invested in their employees by providing such an extensive employee benefits package that is unprecedented to any other in the industry. Although it is a great package and opportunity to employees it can have a negative effect on the company due to profits, as a large percentage of profits made are being returned back to employees to serve their needs and maintain employee satisfaction and retention.
Another issue presented at Google is the age of its employees. Many graduates, fresh from college, flock to Google due to their perks and incentives. However, this has had some negative results on the climate at Google as a large percentage of Google employees are under the age of 30. “The median age of employees at Google is 27 years, making it the youngest workforce across the industry”, (Gupta, 2009). As Google employees get younger and younger many employees, who are older, often feel that Google practices age discrimination. This is despite the fact that Google’s oldest employee is 82 years old. Although the perks, benefits packages, and the opportunities available for Google employees are extensive, the organization continues to attract the attention of the young and old alike. Tracking, maintaining, and ensuring suitable benefits are being distributed appropriately; human resources information systems are the culprit. Without the use of computer technology, it would be difficult for managers to maintain this. Especially when considering benefits packages, such as medical and life insurance, computer software and programing is necessary in our digital era. All the while, digital America has continued to cause a barrier between generations, like observed at Google. The younger generations are computer savvy, comfortable, and take an interest in the digital era, whereas older individuals may not be. This has caused a rift between the young and the old and can stimulate problems such as the one observed at Google where the young are dominate within the industry.
An Analysis of HRM Data and Information
“With the evolution of computer technologies, meeting this new information requirement was greatly enhanced through the creation of HRIS”, (Kavanagh, Thite, & Johnson, 2012). When a software engineer questions HRM about not being able to sign up for an upcoming development training class, or when an gay male employee asks for leave to spend time with a new adopted child, HRIS plays hand in hand with helping human resources management answer such questions. It also ensures that all employees receive the best benefits that are appropriate to them and their situation. Someone working in the sales department would not need to take a software developing course, and an employee who commutes to work on the employee shuttle would not require public transportation vouchers. The use of HRIS can help modify these things to ensure that all employees are receiving the appropriate benefits that are best suited for them. This will ensure that corporate managers participate in mentoring new and perspective leaders in the industry and that employees with young children receive an allowance for participating in Google daycare program. As a result, HRIS provides, “a comprehensive information picture as a single, integrated database, this enables organization to provide the speed of information transactions”, (Kavanagh, Thite, & Johnson, 2012).
Human resources information systems helps human resources managers, take care of human capital. Through computer technology, managers are able to track employees throughout their Google career. “Google has an HR software built on as to ‘map’ the life of the person from the moment they become interest in the company, overseeing and follows as they work there, and surprising, still watching after they leave the company”, (O’Brien, 2009). This tracking devise is useful to the company, its employees, and human resources. Being able to track the career life of employees ensures that employees receive appropriate monetary compensation for their services, including pay raises and incentives. It also can help detail the quality of the employee. These systems track their movement within the industry such as transfers to different departments, possible reprimands and write ups, sick days used within the annual period and throughout their career at Google. Whatever the case or the question, these systems are able to store useful information, and accessed instantly. This is the same for individual who are exceptional employees as the systems monitor rewards, 20% time program, creations, innovations, and promotions. This information can be useful to human resources management to practice employee retention and allocation of raises, rewards, programs, trainings, and incentives. Therefore, “The department of HRIS strives in developing and leading information system plans that met human resources automation, data, and information management requirements”, (“HRIS”, 2011).
Human resources information systems also allow employees to act as their own personal human resources managers. With employee information made available through computer applications and software, employees are able to track their own personal information. Whatever questions, concerns, or issues an employee has, instead of going directly to human resources they can find this useful information on their own. Google employees can have access to their HR file through “employee self-service”. Self-service is a “number of web applications most of which display or update HRIS data, including the termination notification system, emergency contact, name or home address change, parking permit, paycheck history, training enrollment, change request reversals”, (“HRIS Overview”, 2011). This is not only helpful to employees it is also helpful to human resources managers. As employees are able to access their own personal information, it provides additional time to human resources allowing them to address other needs and concerns including managing and implementing strategic planning. Consequently, “HRIS enables employees to do their own benefits updates and address changes, thus freeing HR staff for more strategic functions”, (Heathfield, 2010).
Human resources information systems allow HRM managers to affectively and efficiently manage employee data and information. These systems allow human resources management to:
- Collect appropriate data and convert the information and knowledge for quality decision making
- Produce a greater number and variety of accurate and real time human resources related reports
- Enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of HR administrative functions
- Deliver HR service more quickly and accurately (Kavanagh, Thite, & Johnson, 2012).
The role and function of HRIS in the human resources department has helped in the area of enterprise resources planning. This system has helped companies like Google to manage and organize the mechanics and nature of planning. The availability and accessibility of HRIS and has made this possible. Knowledge management is an intricate function of human resources management and HRIS. Working together, human resources and HRIS, can greatly assist in the implementation of enterprise resources planning, ERP. This unique relationship creates a competitive advantage and is a strategic benefit to industries like Google. “ERP software applications are a set of integrated database applications or modules that carry out the most common business functions, including HR, general ledgers, accounts payable, accounts receivable, order management, inventory control, and customer relationship management”, (Kavanagh, Thite, & Johnson, 2012). Innovations in computer technology have created this unique relationship between HR, ERP, and HRIS. These systems has improved the function of human resources, that allow for quality decision making as it relates to human capital. This helps to maintain, organize, and manage various functions of business.
Human resources information systems and enterprise resources planning, “simplify time-consuming transactions through the automation of administrative tasks and departmental workflows, and foster a paperless and more efficient work environment”, (“HRIS”, 2011). HRIS has encouraged functions of human resources to merge together or simply make these functions easier to perform such payroll, productivity, and benefits management. As a result, human resources managers work hand in hand in computer information technology. This bridge between technology and human resources has made data and information easier to input, retrieve, and change. It has taken paper work out of the equation and allowed more time for HRM to spend on developing strategic models and implementing a plan to achieve business goals and objectives. In this way, “new technologies- particularly information technology- brought about the decentralization of communications and the shakeup of existing paradigms of human interaction and organizational theory”, (Mote, 2012).
Achieving Organizational Goals through HRIS
“Internet giant Google has changed the rules of recruitment forever with its attraction and retention strategies” and is considered to be “the world’s only corporate recruiting machine”, (Sullivan, 2006). The company has the highest funded benefits package and recruitment strategy in the country through its spectacular benefits. Obviously, money is no object when it comes to employee retention and satisfaction at Google Inc. Employee retention, satisfaction, and recruitment are part of Google’s culture. Through the strategic role of human resources management with the assistance of HRIS, Google is able to develop unprecedented benefits packages in order to help attract and retain the best and most talented employees within the industry. In this manner, Google is able to meet its goals and objectives. “Research show employee benefit programs like ours can improve retention and appear to improve performance on some level”, (Casserly, 2012). The culture at Google is very unique in its own right. Employees can play video games, shoot pool, swim, or even do laundry all within the confines or their work environment. The benefits to working at Google are exceptional, not to mention the free food, on site nurses, and free shuttle service from home to work. As a result, founder and CEO Larry Page and Sergy Brin, along with human resources director Stacy Sullivan and their leadership team, “have literally crafted every professional job and workplace element so that all employees are working on interesting projects, learning continuously, constantly challenged to do more, and feeling that they are adding value”, (Sullivan, 2006).
Google cares about its employees. This is observed through their extensive benefits packages, perks, incentives, and work culture. Google employees are not only happy, but they are also dedicated and committed to their employer. This commitment has stimulated new innovations that have made Google the leading internet search engine. The strategies used at Google, through the use and effectiveness of an exceptional business package, are created to attract the best and keep the best. In other industries, employees may work with the company for a short period of time gaining knowledge, training, and experience before taking their expertise elsewhere. Google wants to do just the opposite. The turnover rate at Google proves this point and suggests the impact corporate culture has had on their industry. Just a few years ago, Google turnover rate was less than 2% falling at 1.43%, (Gupta, 2009). Consequently, Google must be doing something right, “the retention rate, and the turnover data at Google proves that the organization has been successful able to attract, retain, and motivate”, (Gupta, 2009). This statistic suggests that more than 90% of Google employees will stay with the company for the longevity of their career. It would be silly for an employee to leave Google to pursue another industry. Although Google is home to the lowest paying workers, the benefits and perks to working with the company out weight monetary compensation. Even if an individual is making more with another company, affectively the pay is then spent for services that Google provides for free such as free lunch and commuter shuttles. Therefore, “the HR strategy fits perfectly with the business model and vision at Google- where in employees are attracted not to the short term monetary returns from work, but rather a support system that can help them create anything”, (Gupta, 2009).
The human resources department has developed various strategies through the use of HRIS to ensure programs and benefits package is helping to meet business objectives. These business objectives include attracting and retaining the finest employees around the world. Researchers indicate that, “an organizations benefits program should be evaluated not only to monitor associated cost and compliance with government requirements, but also to assess the competitiveness in the market place”, (Malveaux & Kennedy, 2011). To do this, Google has various programs in place to ensure they are meeting their business goals. One such way Google does this is by providing an avenue or platform for employees to voice their opinion weather it is a complaint or a suggestion. In addition, employees have intranet systems where they can blog their opinions, make suggestions, or communicate with managers and supervisors. An open culture, employees are encouraged to go to managers and supervisors with their problems to ensure their needs are being met. In addition, employees are subject to opinion surveys that help human resources determine if they are meeting business goals and objectives in terms of employee satisfaction and retention. Goggle uses computer technology to gather information and ensure employee satisfaction, “an annual survey called ‘googlegeist’ that measures the temperature of employees in every department and analyzes data to identify emerging trends [and] employee resources groups where likeminded employees share ideas that are funneled up to HR”, (Wolford, 2012). Furthermore, the human resources department “evaluate our benefits regularly and adapt them to the needs of our changing population” along with “a number of benefit programs and onsite amenities to support you and your situation”, (“Google Benefits”, 2012). Human resources managers at Google use HRIS programs to receive and maintain this critical information. Surveys are processed through computer software to help human resources figure and answer important questions that can help them make better decisions regarding their strategy. Consequently, HRIS is an important function in today’s corporate culture.
Despite Google’s high retention rates and employee satisfaction, having such phenomenal benefits package has its downside. Not only is implementing such an extensive package very expensive and costly to the organization, it also has the attention to attract the wrong people. “Talented individuals who are seeking benefits rather than an opportunity to do their best work… creates a screening challenge”, (Sullivan, 2006). Due to this, human resources must be on their toes when interviewing and going through the screening and application process. Managers do not want to hire the wrong person who does not fit into Google’s dynamic culture. This includes people who are bothered by Google’s interest in creating equal opportunities for their gay and lesbian employees or uninterested in creativity and innovations. As a result, managers must utilize strategic information systems when hiring employees. With such a large, extensive, and unique employee benefits package, Google has a habit of “spending big bucks on projects that don’t pan out as well as hoped”, (La Monica, 2012). Through the use of HRIS systems, managers are able to better assess the employee for the position. It also helps managers realize when to pull the plug on a program that is ineffective and funneling cost or profits. The use of HRIS in the field of human resources has a considerable and dynamic effect on how managers implement their strategic plan as well as determine its effectiveness within the organization. Despite these setbacks, Google remains to be a leader and innovator in recruitment and retention. Although Google still has “lots of growth potential”… “as long as Google remains the undisputed leader in search, it’s hard to quibble with any of the decisions made by Google”, (La Monica, 2012).
Human resources information systems are a dual relationship between information technology and human resources management. However, it is not the influences of HRIS that makes Google a leader of its class. “In determining the strategic fit between technology and human resources it is not the strategy per se that leads to competitive advantage rather how well it is implemented”, (Kavanagh, Thite, & Johnson, 2012). Utilizing HRIS appropriately has helped Google realize its goals. Now that its goals are realized, the company must work to maintain this position. Utilizing computer technology to generate surveys, ensure the effectiveness of employee screening, and allotment of employee benefits, has helped to make Google a leader in its industry. Google has utilized innovations in computer technology to achieve organizational goals with positive effects. Consequently, “Project management provides excellent tools for ensuring that the implementation of the HRIS proceeds in an orderly fashion by establishing goals and time tables for the tasks and activities during implementation”, (Kavangh, Thite, & Johnson, 2012).
The relationship between human resources management and human resources information systems is fundamental to corporate success across industries. When becoming a professional in this field it is of utter importance to be knowledgeable on the fundamental role information technology has on human resources function, performance, and management. Furthermore, it is also a necessary to achieve organizational goals and should be implemented into human resources strategic plan. As seen at Google Inc. HRIS can help attract, retain, and management human capital. Although Google used the form of employee benefits to achieve this, other avenues can be used to achieve this goal such as salary or recruitment strategies. A leader of its kind, Google has changed the course of employee retention through its benefits program. Google is, “a brand that is built upon a culture that is high on trust, low on politics, great at sharing resources and sharing wealth, and full of meaning and significance”, (Gupta, 2009). This decade, researchers have seen organizations drop many benefits once available in their package. However, Google falls into its own category and percentage as a company that provides exceptional services. While only 11% offer massage therapy services, 12% offer sick rooms and 12% have onsite medical clinics, Google has become an exception to the rule. Google offers all of these benefits and more, (Malveaux & Kennedy, 2011). This includes other benefits left unmentioned such as “free foreign language lessons, including French, Spanish, Japanese, and mandarin, (Gupta, 2009). “Employees can head over to a gym filled with equipment”, get a free haircut, get their car washed and detailed, “no tracking of sick days policy”, yoga class, valet parking, and you can even bring your dog to work (no cats are allowed), (Sullivan, 2006). Without the use of human resources information systems, what HRM could keep up with these benefits programs including implementing benefits packages, distribution, and ensuring that all employees have equal access to these benefits. Although it is possible to leave a paper trail, HRIS makes the organization, access, availability, and management of data and information easy and convenient. HRIS and strategic planning of HRM is used extensively with extreme thought and precision helping Google develop an extraordinary way to attract and retain the best employees around the world. An innovator in employee satisfaction and retention, Google remains humble in their endeavors, “we’re doing these things for employees not because it’s important to the business, but simply because it’s the right thing to do”, (Casserly, 2012).
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