Has HR automation come of age, just in time for a post-COVID world?

Though challenges undoubtedly remain with COVID, the world does seem to be settling back down to a new normal in terms of people going back to offices at least some of the time and normal economic activity resuming. And it seems that key to that normalisation is a fresh wave of HR automation help.

For sure, this is a trend that had already been established prior to the global pandemic. For example, as a great July piece in UK daily recruitment and HR news site Onrec describes, many HR teams are already very comfortable streamlining previously cumbersome processes with tools: “Many HR functions can now be performed electronically, making them faster and more efficient. The result? By streamlining HR processes, organisations can avoid the pitfalls of manual and inefficient workflows, such as errors in payroll processing, inconsistent reporting [and] compliance mishaps.”

‘Giving employees access to all the information they need in one place’

So far, so familiar, but what we liked about this article is that for once, it really dived into the specifics to show just how. The HR department spends a significant amount of time solving people’s problems, it points out, but with manual processes, a lot of time can be wasted answering questions like:

  • How do I retrieve my old pay stubs?
  • How many days/hours did I work last month?
  • How was my net pay calculated?

But now, rather than spending time answering routine questions, forward-thinking HR professionals accomplish all that with a simple employee self-service portal—and as the article states, “Such portals free up the HR department to focus on other important tasks while giving employees access to all the information they need in one place.”

More specific details about how HR automation is starting to genuinely support HR comes from another nice piece we spotted this month in SHRM on how automation can help reduce cost of benefits. Two striking stats in particular stood out for us: how Aberdeen Research found that up to 15% of invoices from US benefits partners contain “serious errors”, with some benefits experts believing that number to be higher, while Boston-based Nucleus Research is quoted in the piece as claiming the error rate can be as high as 25% on some US workplace healthcare applications. Luckily, the article adds, an automated benefits system can cut error rates as much as 50 to 60%, among other advantages, such as recovering between 70 and 90 percent of HR administrator time for some tasks.

We’d normally expect that recovered time to be pushed back to more value-add jobs. Great—but what if automation made that valuable work even more so? An intriguing review in HR Director goes so far as to say that the key to making recruitment more ‘human’ might well be… the robots themselves!

With automation, a recruitment team can give their full attention to the candidate

Why: automation can do the box-ticking that will let you focus on what matters: the human side of the process. “From Recruitment Management Software Applications, Applicant Tracking Systems, and basic automation through HR software, it’s never been easier to integrate technology into your HR operations,” writes the article’s author, the CEO of vendor HRlocker. Again, a familiar claim, perhaps, but again, we get the specific detail on just how: “If one of your job requirements is that candidates have completed an accredited course in accounting, software can quickly filter the applicants who have achieved this. Then, your recruitment team can give their full attention to a selection of candidates they’re confident in.”

We’re very encouraged both by the positive trend we are seeing reflected in these articles, but also how real business case evidence is mounting up. Has HR automation has really come of age—just in time for a post-COVID world?

We say yes!

thedmcollaborators editors

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