There’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic about HR automation. If implemented successfully, it will help your business grow.

By Elena Yakimova

The idea of traditional HR being all but dead might be a bit of a stretch, but there’s truth in that Human Resource operations will not look the same in less than a decade. Digital transformation, business intelligence integration, and both workforce and workflow automation are well on their way.

A changing job landscape and new rules of the hiring game, as well as major shifts in corporate cultures, create an environment where HR has only two options to choose from: either adapt or become obsolete.

Why automate HR processes?

There’s plenty of reasons to be optimistic about HR automation. If implemented successfully, it will help to:

  • Improve efficiency, speed and productivity
  • Reduce costs
  • Reduce paperwork
  • Streamline HR workflows
  • Ensure process transparency
  • Ensure process scalability
  • Control compliance
  • Minimize human error and improve data accuracy
  • Encourage outside-the-box, creative decision-making.
  • Improve employee satisfaction, and more.

Will robots take HR jobs?

True creativity, social intelligence, and soft skills aren’t being overtaken by AI anytime soon. However, time-consuming routine and repetitive tasks, as well as the ones that can benefit from rigid standardization and streamlining, are a different matter altogether. The aim is not to displace people in HR, but to maximize their efficiency by means of process automation and smart management systems.

There’s plenty of third-party solutions for HR and project management that can be used for these tasks. Custom software tailored for more specific needs is also an option. Before fully integrating such systems into Human Resources processes, however, it is necessary to test every existing or newly built solution. Namely, to run quality assurance checks like multi-browser and security tests to ensure compliance, mobility, and uninterrupted workflows.

What to automate

But what are the tasks that should be automated? And where to begin introducing these changes to the HR workflow?

Below is the list of processes that can make good starting points for automation.

#1: Employee onboarding

Employee onboarding can include dozens of steps, most of which could benefit from streamlining, no matter the industry. The process will likely include:

  • Document verification, issuing, and signing
  • General orientation and office tour
  • Introduction to internal rules, policies, and administrative processes
  • Setting up a workstation and providing hardware, software, and office supplies if necessary
  • Introductions to the team and key colleagues, job requirements and execution standards, procedures, and scheduling
  • Providing access and credentials to internal systems and digital resources, creation of accounts, email(s), etc

That’s it for the first working day. Add payroll-related tasks, overall training and feedback/review sessions for the first months, and all the basics seem to be easy to cover in an orderly manner.

And yet, according to the State of the American Workplace report, only 1 in 10 employees thinks their organization onboards well. Which means that almost any company can improve its procedures in some way. The main offenders are usually the lack of coordination between responsible people and their tasks; issues with the order, timing, and paperwork.

Automation can potentially help with all of those. Here’s how to approach it:

  • Create a detailed list of activities, staff, and equipment needed for onboarding. Estimate the preparation time for each step. Create variations for different types of jobs if there are significant differences in the process.
  • Order the steps for maximum seamlessness and efficiency. If something can be done in advance to significantly speed it all up, it should be scheduled beforehand.
  • Use a software task management system that supports notifications, reminders and calendar view. Create necessary templates and subtasks, place orders and assign people responsible for preparation and execution. If a mailing system is in place, use it for scheduled emails to candidates, as well. Make sure the entire process can easily be duplicated or edited.
  • Minimize manual paperwork whenever possible; deploy digital forms and signatures instead of hard copies. The paper trail accumulated during the period of employment should be available in its entirety at any moment should the need arise.

#2: Offboarding

Offboarding is as important as onboarding when it comes to HR responsibilities. According to Glassdoor, 70% of job candidates read former employees’ reviews before making decisions about companies they consider working for. Therefore, ensuring an amicable departure is a priority, and a crucial part of that is the offboarding experience.

In the best case scenario, a former employee can become a source of positive referrals and endorsement for the company. Exit interviews and personal communications can help ensure this, but the overall technicalities and the absence of drawn-out complications are just as crucial. The processes of preparation, scheduling, and automation can dramatically improve the offboarding experience for both employees and their employers.

Finalizing tasks, transferring knowledge and responsibilities, revoking accesses (digital and physical), doing the paperwork—all should be done smoothly and automated when possible, to leave a lasting positive impression.

#3: Performance management and review

Performance reviews aren’t just numbers. They can be considered intrinsically human in nature. Aside from meeting goals in terms of productivity, reviews are about so much more—social connections and teamwork, two-way feedback, getting insights into processes and employees, corporate structures and inner workings. So how to automate all that?

A good bet is to start with management, its administrative and technical parts:

  • Automating goal-setting and tracking. This can help to establish and communicate specific, clear-cut objectives.
  • Collaboration and team productivity monitoring. Automated performance management systems can boost productivity, improve teamwork efficiency and ease up role and task management.
  • Streamlining feedback and training. Scheduling, progress tracking, sharing of learning materials, digital forms and polls—when standardized and automated, these processes take a fraction of the time they require otherwise. Such automated workflows also encourage employees to log and track their tasks and feedback on a regular basis, with little to no additional motivation necessary.
  • Storing and accessing feedback and log data. With no hard copies but digitized paperwork, creating, storing, accessing and sharing becomes much swifter and less prone to human errors.

#4: Processing leave requests

This task is fairly easy to automate, but when done manually, it can become rather problematic. A number of routine checks that must be performed, approvals to be confirmed, calculations and records to be made—it all adds up to a sizeable stack of actions, emails, and documents. A mistake at any level can potentially lead to future troubles, payroll miscalculations, and insurance-related complications.

Utilizing a management and automation system is a must in these cases: to make sure no part of the process is neglected, no message is left unanswered, everyone is informed of the progress, and everything is done on time and according to the internal policies.

Final thoughts

Wide-scale digital transformation brings about changes to many business functions. With the long-fixed role of HR finally changing and rapidly evolving, automation of routine and administrative parts of the job is all but inevitable.

Be it simple standardization or management of multi-level tasks requiring a whole team to execute it, automation is all about lowering costs and driving up productivity. In the end, it leaves more time for analysis, strategizing, and creation of new ways to attract talent and truly develop corporate culture.

Elena Yakimova is the Head of Web Testing Department at software testing company a1qa. She started her career in QA in 2008. Now Elena’s in-house QA team consists of 115 skilled engineers who have successfully completed more than 250 projects in telecom, retail, e-commerce, and other verticals.

HR stock photo by This Is Me/Shutterstock