The phrase “automation” can make some people nervous—especially with the growing prevalence of AI in the workplace. We don’t want to rely on Hal 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey to resolve conflicts involving personnel, but what exactly is HR automation and what is its role in Human Resources?
In practice, HR automation focuses on repetitive tasks that are far more tedious than rewarding. The right HR and payroll software can multiply the impact of HR staff, letting you waste less time on manual errors and invest more work hours in helping the human beings at your company.
Benefits of HR automation
While HR software cannot compete with an experienced HR professional when it comes to discussing employee concerns or helping management implement policy changes, but HR automation still offers clear benefits:
HR software can handle routine tasks faster and more efficiently. With technology integration, you don’t have to manually transfer data between systems. Some things naturally go together, like timekeeping and payroll, and an efficient software provider can remove artificial barriers between those related processes.
It’s true that everyone makes mistakes. Even innocent mistakes can get expensive to correct, whether they affect company liability or important garnishments like an employee’s child support. Automation still needs to be set up carefully, but it dramatically reduces the opportunities for human errors with repetitive tasks.
Improved communication and collaboration
When automation handles tedious and routine tasks, HR staff has more time to clarify communication with employees. Automatic messages can send reminders for everything from missed punches to open enrollment periods.
Self service portals allow employees to check PTO and update address changes. Instead of answering the same questions every day, HR staff can focus on more complicated challenges that impact culture and morale.
Integrated software makes it easier to update reporting and watch Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) across the workforce. When you address problems like tardiness and absenteeism, you can track any change in behavior before and after training. Encourage lifelong learning and you can measure the impact of programs on employee productivity.
Reduced paperwork and paper cost
It takes time and paperwork to perform HR tasks manually. When HR software includes recruiting and onboarding, you can reduce the amount of repetitive paperwork that traditionally comes with new hires.
When you use an LMS, HR staff will appreciate having to spend less time giving the same training sessions. With paper files on personnel, you’re responsible for the safe storage and disposal of that sensitive information.
Positive employee experience
In addition to being expensive to correct, payroll mistakes can cause major problems for employees. Even when everything runs smoothly, manual HR tasks are slow and tedious. Automation lets everyone focus on more rewarding and challenging tasks.
Well designed software can help prevent common mistakes like missed deadlines. The categories and settings in the software can help ensure compliance with common federal standards. Make sure you offer COBRA during offboarding and help staff keep benefits information up to date.
Quality software protects the private information of employees and clients. When HR staff handles important processes by email instead of a secure portal, employees may be more easily tricked by phishing attacks. Robust HR software includes secure data transfers to banks and benefits providers.
Keeping the ‘human’ in Human Resources
Especially in the department of Human Resources, the shift toward automation doesn’t erase the need for actual people. If anything, people become more important when the most tedious and repetitive tasks are streamlined with automation.
Some of the least rewarding HR tasks are most easily automated, freeing up hours for HR staff to focus on more meaningful work, like finding creative solutions to employee concerns. As long as your company employs human beings, they will want a fellow human to answer questions and serve as a go-between with the C-suite.
There’s a symbiosis between the continued development of HR software and the evolving duties of HR staff. The right software is a force-multiplier that opens up new possibilities. With the help of automation, even a small HR department can offer a wider range of benefits and faster payroll options.
Which HR processes can be improved with automation?
You don’t want automated software handling layoffs or giving motivational speeches, but the vast majority of HR processes can be improved with at least partial automation. Without trying to apply it everywhere, HR automation is a tool that helps human staff focus on more important priorities.
Automation opens up new options like on-demand and daily payroll. Software takes the hassle (and human errors) out of shift differential pay, overtime, and withholdings.
Payroll tax penalties can get expensive, and it’s easy for human staff to miss deadlines or misplace paperwork. Software may not reduce your tax burden, but it quickly and accurately handles filling.
Time & Attendance
The time clock integrated employee schedules can alert managers to tardiness and missed punches. Make it as easy as possible to generate new shift schedules.
New hires don’t want to re-enter their address and contact information for every form. Automated software sends reminders for open enrollment periods, policy updates, and COBRA.
Auto-respond to midnight applications. Use software to reduce bias. Make routine background checks and contacting references efficient and consistent steps of the accelerated selection process.
Let new hires complete paperwork and initial training at their own pace with remote onboarding software. Free up HR staff from the burden of explaining repetitive paperwork in person.
Complete every step of the offboarding checklist with software that requires confirmation. Ping managers when paperwork is missing or delayed. Revoke system access at the appropriate time.
Maintain compliance across multiple locations, even with HR staff off-site. Training, scheduling, payroll, and other compliance-sensitive tasks are more consistent with automation.
Impartial software can help set, measure, and track employee performance. Use clear reporting for fair incentives, rewards, and development opportunities.
Training & Learning
Improve completion rates on short courses within a Learning Management System (LMS). Automation allows for reporting on each employee’s progress without micromanaging them.