We’re all dreaming of a world where HR automation is deeply embedded into our organization. But how can an HR or People Operations team actually get there? Let’s walk through five essential pointers for implementing HR automation in your organization.
1. Employee experience is key
There are countless reasons why focusing on the employee experience is good for every stakeholder in an organization. For starters, thinking about what the ideal employee experience would be – what the best processes are that you can run – will improve employee morale and productivity. This one is fairly straightforward. But prioritizing this first benefits the HR team as well.
When you start with the employee experience, rather than only considering what you’re currently spending the most time on, you will actually increase efficiency even more overall. Why? Because if you design the automation program with only your internal operations team in mind, two big bottlenecks will appear:
- Employees will struggle with the process, meaning HR teams will have to answer questions about it (aka more manual work)
- Employees may use non-standard processes and workarounds, leading to more manual work (again) and potential compliance risks because people avoid standard procedures
For these reasons (and countless others), it’s highly recommended to emphasize the experience of your employees when implementing any HR automation.
2. Start small
It’s easy to get overly ambitious when it comes to automation, but that can quickly lead to a deadlock.
What you shouldn’t say: “Hey, we want to do HR automation. This is our priority for 2021. By the end of the year, everything will be automated.”
Let’s be honest – this is not realistic. Don’t sit down and draft a lengthy wish list of things you’d like to automate and then set up a huge project. This would cost a lot of time and money, so if you don’t get the necessary resources approved, you might end up doing nothing.
What you should say: “What’s one employee touchpoint that could be significantly improved by automation? Maybe we start with onboarding – one task at a time.”
That’s much better! Start with one thing. This is a continuous process, and each little bit of progress will improve things for your organization. Get started, build a foundation, and become more advanced over time. Small wins are still wins.
3. Iteratively roll out programs
So, you picked the one small thing you want to automate first: now it’s time to implement it. Should you work tirelessly to ensure the new policy program is absolutely perfect before putting it in front of employees? Short answer: no. Employee experience is crucial, it’s true. But it’s also nearly impossible to perfect a new program or process without testing it on the people who will actually use it every day.
Here’s what iteratively rolling out programs can look like:
- Set up a new HR chatbot in your workplace chat app
- If desired, test it out first with a group of people who love trying new processes and technologies (even when they’re still rough around the edges)
- Run a survey – How do people like the new process? Incorporate the feedback and roll the chatbot out to more employees.
Moral of this story: don’t wait for perfection. You’re much more likely to get your new automated process to its most optimal form if you iteratively work out the kinks with employees.
4. Monitor continuously
It’s worth noting that HR automation is not a one-and-done checklist item: it’s an ongoing process. That means that you’ll need to continuously monitor the automations you’ve set up, but it also means keeping an eye out for further opportunities. One way to do this is to have an open discussion in an HR team meeting. Report on what employees are frequently asking and what they complain about that is making their experience cumbersome.
On the other side, discuss which manual processes HR team members have spent a lot of time on. What are some of our repetitive tasks that we could automate? Is there any area we’re wasting valuable time that we could dig into? Approach automation in your organization with curiosity and openness to new ideas.
5. Communicate successes
Finally, remember to celebrate. It’s valuable if the whole HR team can shift its perception and start communicating successes early on. Gone are the days when the HR department was seen only as a service team – now is the time to cheer automation accomplishments and showcase the value you offer to the organization.
The wide-reaching effects of HR automation
That “dream world” of optimized processes, fewer manual tasks, lower costs, and effortless help for employees does exist when organizations reach the highest levels of HR automation – but they have to properly implement those changes in order to have the greatest effect. By following these best practices, any HR team can help propel their organization toward more automated operations.