Is the HR automation juggernaut now unstoppable?

Evidence is building that both the business and the wider economic case for HR automation is now becoming just too compelling to ignore.

Building a compelling business case for budget holders clearly calling out the ROI of HR automation can be a challenge. The good news is that if this is something you have been trying to do for clients or internally, a new independent study by Deloitte reveals there are indeed significant opportunities for companies to save time and money in their HR and payroll processes, opening up resources to invest in employees and culture.

In the study, sponsored by vendor Paylocity (gated download here), the team found that

  • payroll and tax tasks automation could deliver annual savings of about $24,500 (£17,402)
  • time management tasks offered potential annual automation savings of about $24,000 (£17,047)
  • and finally, communications and engagement tasks $23,000 (£16,336).

As US site Human Resource Executive put it in its coverage of the study, just time management alone could win back nearly $55,000 (£39,000) a year, in areas ranging from timecard entry, collecting and ensuring the accuracy of time cards, correcting errors, submitting PTO requests, calculating PTO balances, responding to PTO requests and tracking leave. Deloitte also found a significant opportunity in the expense management and payroll and tax functions, with an estimated $37,000 (£26,000) savings in each.

Is HR automation the key to drive organisational growth in a post-COVID world?

Pretty positive news there, then. But any such automation work can’t happen in a vacuum, especially at the moment: after all, in the words of Managing Director at workforce performance specialist SHL India and Philippines Sushant Dwivedy, “A quiet paradigm shift is happening in the way we work and the way we relate to our workplaces”. Writing for widely respected Indian HR title People Matters, Dwivedy reminds us of how much prominence HR now has in many environments, given how much it stepped up during COVID (“HR functions, earlier relegated to as support have emerged to the frontline”). But, he suggests, HR could actually get even more important, due to automation: “Leveraging the combination of psychometrics, data science, and machine learning… [new HR tech] cognitive technologies will help enable organisational talent to grow into new and more rewarding roles”—meaning that, “HR automation is becoming the key to drive organisational growth in a post-COVID world.”

That may already be happening, if US IT trade body CompTIA’s intriguing new research into the short-term impact of AI on post-pandemic recovery is accurate. For example, it reports that 70% of HR professionals have told its researchers that reskilling and upskilling efforts to boost workforce innovation are a priority. In addition, the overwhelming majority (80%) of the 400 HR and workforce learning professionals it contacted also expect AI to have either a “moderate” or “significant” impact on their jobs, and most are already planning or actively using AI in areas such as candidate screening, onboarding, competency assessment and career planning. As we read in SHRM’s comprehensive write-up of the study, CompTIA found that the top areas where HR professionals are using or exploring AI-enabled tools are competency assessments and hiring process management (71%), employee self-service tools (71%), and career-pathway modelling (68%).

HR automation sceptics take note: the numbers are not going your way on this!

thedmcollaborators editors

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