HR teams make the biggest impact when they can focus on building and nurturing healthy, productive work environments. But let’s face it, most are spending too much time on repetitive and tedious tasks.
Activities like filing unnecessary paperwork or inputting information into systems that don’t communicate with each other should be history. A Harris Poll study shows that, on average, HR managers waste 14 hours per week on completing tasks that could easily be automated.
Automation in HR can significantly reduce inefficiencies on the operations front. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that around 56% of the “hire-to-retire” tasks that HR departments perform could be automated with existing technologies and limited process changes.
With the right HR automation tools in place, both HR teams and employees have more time to focus on meaningful work that adds real business value. Let’s dive into some use cases and real-world examples of how automation is transforming workplaces.
Onboarding new employees
The workforce is changing at a rapid pace. Today’s top talent is tech-savvy and ready to share information transparently. Unsurprisingly, these employees are seeking companies that are digitally ready. HR is expected to deliver a smooth experience, designed around people, empowerment and productivity.
To successfully deliver on such a promise, employers need to establish consistent standards across all teams. Automation in the onboarding process assists in otherwise tedious and error-prone tasks. Signing agreements, filling in employee information, or setting up essential tools doesn’t have to be time-consuming anymore. With the basics covered by automated workflows, HR and managers have more time to offer individual support.
While modern HR suites like Personio or BambooHR usually offer a solid foundation for a streamlined onboarding process, it’s worth looking into dedicated chatbots as well. Rather than overwhelming new employees with an endless list of tasks and things to read, chatbots break things down into digestible chunks and offer interaction opportunities. Take Donut, for example. You can configure this Slack app to send new joiners useful nuggets of information at the right time and introduce them to their new colleagues.
Bringing new employees on board also means giving them access to a range of tools and systems. With software like Back, you can streamline the process, assign tasks and keep new joiners informed about the status.
Another interesting use case: the Royal Bank of Canada reinvented their pre-boarding employee experience by developing an internal app called Embark. The app helps new hires learn about their jobs, familiarize them with the company culture and meet their teammates online.
Engaging your employees
Engaging employees should be at the heart of every organization. But only one of three employees is actively engaged. When we look at how employee engagement is measured, we can see that not much has changed for years. Today, companies still spend more than $1 billion on annual engagement surveys that don’t provide actionable insights due to their infrequent nature.
So what steps can you take to accurately measure and lift engagement? We can see a clear shift toward pulse surveys that are timely, easy to answer and to the point. Tools such as CultureAmp, Peakon and Glint offer ways to capture employee sentiment all year round. Many of these tools even equip admins with industry benchmarks and recommended actions for areas that need attention.
Continuous learning is also a way to keep your employees engaged. IBM decided to replace its learning management system with a new digital learning platform. The platform lets employees publish content that is important for them, curates and recommends training based on their experience, role and interests.
Traditional performance management processes have been notoriously time-consuming and rarely effective in motivating employees to do their best work. In addition, the limitations of relying on manager ratings, with 61% of a rating being attributed to the manager’s biases as opposed to the employee’s performance. And yet, feedback is more important than ever. If we don’t get enough of it, we become nervous, suspicious and ultimately less productive.
As a result, more ongoing, development-focused approaches are on the rise. The new breed of performance management software enables HR to run automated feedback cycles while nudging managers toward regular check-ins with employees. To combat the now well-known issue of biased ratings, these tools tap into timely feedback from different angles. Employees give feedback to peers and even their managers, resulting in a more accurate picture of everyone’s contributions. Without intuitive systems and automated workflows, such a multi-source feedback process is an administrative nightmare for the HR team managing it.
Putting special attention on recognition and positive reinforcement has proven to be an effective addition to the core performance management process. Tools such as Small Improvements, 15Five or TinyPulse allow employees to publicly recognize and thank each other for their work, via Slack. Companies that are actively practicing a “high-recognition culture” have 30% lower voluntary turnover than the average. They are also more likely to outperform their peers in a variety of other metrics.
In general, technology-enabled performance feedback is a huge area of innovation. Just 10 years ago, most systems would only let you run performance reviews in the cloud. Now, we have a wide range of tools to choose from that allow HR to customize their processes, remind managers to have regular one-to-ones and facilitate actionable feedback.
Employee service is a crucial part of the departmental work that often gets too little attention. Inefficiencies in the daily work add up and take away time you could otherwise spend on strategic projects.
Especially in fast-growing or larger organizations, HR or People Operations managers have to deal with a high volume of internal requests or questions. Usually these come from various communication channels which makes it very difficult to keep track of them and solve them efficiently.
Providing a great employee experience must be as important as providing excellent customer service. After all, you want to ensure that your talented employees won’t leave.
Fortunately, there is a vision for better times coming to this area of HR as well. Software like Back collects all questions and requests from your people’s preferred communication channels and records them in one platform. Internal experts for HR and other employee-facing teams then collaborate on requests, handle workflows and manage approvals in one place.
Moreover, frequently asked questions can be stored into a database and automatically answered by a Slack bot which significantly reduces the request volume.
HR automation is only just beginning
We’ve only covered some of the HR tasks and processes that are already being automated today. And new HR technology is popping up at an ever-increasing rate.
When done right, automation not only improves efficiency within the HR department but also benefits the employee experience and productivity across the organization. If the reality of your team’s day-to-day work is still very manual, now is the best time to start automating your most repetitive tasks.