The resistance to automation has always been intrinsically linked to the fear that technology is going to make human workers redundant. Yet automation has often acted as a positive catalyst for change rather than a harbinger of doom.
David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, points out that the historical trend has been for automation to create more jobs than it removes. He argues that automation “allows computers to substitute for workers in performing routine, codifiable tasks while amplifying the comparative advantage of workers in supplying problem-solving skills, adaptability, and creativity.”
Digital HR tools can now handle most of the administrative work, meaning HR professionals can handle coordination and decision-making functions, which is a much more productive use of valuable human resources.
So what does this mean for HR? Allowing HR tools to handle the mundane tasks associated with human management means that modern HR departments are being freed up to assume a more strategic role in their organisations.
The current trend for moving away from hierarchical structures to matrix structures and project-focused teams requires HR to assume more responsibility in change management, people management and business process re-engineering. This redefined role is increasingly important as organisations continue to evolve and combine strategic, financial and people issues into a coordinated business strategy.
With HR automation increasingly becoming a standard practice across many industries, companies that resist automation are slowly being left behind. Instead of thriving, they are reduced to surviving in a highly competitive disruptive age.
According to a Harvard Business Review report, “the greatest value in the future of HR will be as an accelerated talent development centre, ensuring that all leaders in the organisation are effective people leaders who can understand, interact with, and enhance their organisation’s talent more effectively in the future.”
So what HR processes should be automated in your organisation?
Data is king in the digital age. Having an automated HR system can give you unprecedented insights into your recruitment processes, allowing you to measure recruitment success across departments and locations. Knowing how well your recruitment is working is vital and having the data to drill down into areas for improvement will ultimately improve the standard of your workforce going forward.
It can also reclaim the hours and days that go into basic recruitment tasks. Applicant tracking systems store potential recruits’ information and provides all the relevant parties with access to constantly updated information about each candidate. Pre-screening tools and video interviews also allow you to widen the net and seek out the best available talent, regardless of their location.
Onboarding is a time-consuming process that involves the signing of contracts, orientation, training and all the other basic functions that can eat into a HR professional’s day. Automating the admin aspects of onboarding gives new employees a streamlined introduction to the company.
A personal dashboard can let them input everything from their personal information to their bank details. They can also access training videos, checklists and organisational information so they can hit the ground running on their first day.
3. Performance appraisals
Often, performance appraisals can be overlooked as managers simply don’t have the time to do it. With an automated process, performance metrics are constantly updated and management can get real-time, up-to-date information on any employee’s performance.
Not only does this make it easier to identify areas of concern, it can provide more accurate evaluations for employees and make it easier to identity whether targets have been met. This type of metric-driven review can significantly increase employee engagement and performance.
4. Timesheet tracking
Automated timesheets remove the need for manual tracking and increases the efficiency of the process. It reduces the chances of mistakes, miscalculated hours and the need for subsequent validation.
Not only does it speed up the collection and validation process, it also removes the need for HR personnel to manually update an employee’s records. Employees can track their time from any location using any devices, and the information is immediately updated in the system.
5. Benefits tracking
Benefits tracking can be a complex and exhaustive process. Real-time analytics mean that both employers and employees know what has to be achieved and can see progress towards performance rewards with the click of a mouse or via a mobile app. Employees can also access self-service options that allow them to easily access their remuneration information.
Payroll can be a logistical nightmare, between managing compliance obligations and pulling together information from a number of legacy systems. Having one integrated HR and payroll system can remove a significant amount of admin work for HR professionals. Having a secure system in place can also streamline your data protection processes and relieve HR of any data security concerns.
7. Holiday requests
Trawling through emails in search of holiday requests and manually updating holiday records should be a thing of the past. Automated workflows can turn this into a seamless process where approval can be sought and given in no time and holiday allowances are automatically updated. It allows for a much more efficient way to calculate time taken or requested and ensures a smoother process for both management and workers.
According to the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends 2016, “HR organisations are moving away from a ‘service provider’ mentality to becoming a valued talent, design and employee experience consultants.” An essential part of that transition is adopting the necessary tools to achieve this professional evolution. Having the technology to automatically handle traditional HR functions is actually empowering HR professionals to embrace change and embark on a new direction that will ultimately benefit both them and the wider organisation.
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