Has COVID taken us that much closer to HR automation acceptance?

As we enter the second year of the global pandemic, now seems to be a good time to ask: How is the market doing when it comes to automating key HR processes and therefore increasing efficiency?

For sure, it’s seen as the route of travel: “Automation Is the Future of HR Management” is the confident prediction, after all, of a business reporter working in the Principality. The confidence is not limited to the headline, incidentally: “All businesses will eventually adapt to innovation, whether it’s with the hiring process, training, or other admin functions… Shifting to HR automation may be challenging for some companies but is never impossible. As a business grows, automation becomes a necessity not only for HR but also for other critical areas of the business.”

Well, yes, though ‘every’ business sounds a bit strong. But when? Perhaps a lot sooner than we think, as Personnel Today reports that the pandemic has definitely increased UK Plc’s overall focus on HR technology investment, which would obviously speed uptake of automation. Specifically, according to a survey carried out by XpertHR, just over 85% of organisations recently contacted have a formal HR technology strategy in place, or plan to introduce one over the coming 12 months, while almost nine in 10 deployed some form of technology to support HR activities—with the most common being an HR management/HRIS system, used by 71.5% of respondents. The main drivers for investing in technology were to increase automation of HR services (81%), to enable employees to access HR via self-service (66.9%), to enable data-driven decision making (66%) and to integrate disparate sources of people data (64.6%).

“Unless you define the process, you don’t know where automation can help along the journey”

HR professionals also said tech had been crucial in enabling the rapid shift to remote working, helping keep employees engaged and connected, and recording details of furloughed employees and vital in supporting ‘virtual’ processes such as recruitment and onboarding. Sounds pretty encouraging—as is the summary of the positive experiences 12 HR leaders who’ve piloted, adapted, and succeeded with HR automation recently interviewed by Human Resources Online.

Usefully, the site has distilled the learnings these practitioners had to say into a handy checklist:

  • No project can take off without leadership endorsement
  • Show early success from pilot testing
  • Keep consolidating your tech solutions within the organisation framework
  • Bring the user into the design process
  • RPA (robotic process automation) poses initial challenges, but you can make the results work for you
  • The approach to ROI isn’t black-and-white; find what works for you
  • Human HR and digital HR must work hand-in-hand, and you need to
  • Develop a journey map to boost chances of success for your project.

Each step is nicely illustrated by specific user comments reflecting real-word experiences (e.g. Cathy Dixon, Senior Director Global HR & Talent Acquisition, Automation Anywhere on that last point: “Unless you define the process, you don’t know where automation can help along the journey”). It’s a great piece, and really worth your time… but it won’t tell you when every business will be automated.

Unfortunately! 🙂

thedmcollaborators editors

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