HR and Recruiting

How can HR teams successfully implement automation?

Written by Guest Contributor

When most people think of automation, HR probably isn’t the first department to come to mind. Despite these impressions, human involvement in human resources is starting to shift as more departments embrace new technologies. HR automation is well on its way to becoming commonplace.

In 2020, 45% of HR departments were planning to pursue automation, as 74% of them increased their tech spending. More HR professionals will want to automate some processes as this trend continues, but the path forward may be unclear. To help, here are five steps to successfully implement automation in your HR department.

Identify ideal use cases for automation

The first step in any automation process is to determine where to implement it. Many companies fall into the trap of using automation for the sake of using new technologies, often leading to poor ROIs. Instead, you should think of which processes would benefit the most from automation.

It may help to start by determining the department’s most pressing challenges rather than brainstorming HR automation ideas. Look for processes that are inefficient and time-consuming. These areas will likely be the most cost-effective use cases for automated systems.

Typically, automation is best applied in areas like payroll, data entry, onboarding, and talent acquisition. These are processes where manual methods introduce a substantially higher risk of error or inefficiency and are often tedious. Automating them will improve efficiency and accuracy and could help keep employees engaged.

Communicate value with leadership

After determining the best applications for HR automation, communicate this value with key company stakeholders. Without support from company leaders, your automation efforts will likely end up underfunded or cut before they have a chance to improve operations. Develop an argument for automating around the business value it can bring.

For example, you can automate your document lifecycle according to any relevant government regulations. This automation will ensure you stay compliant while freeing workers to focus on other, more value-adding tasks. To present this idea to management, calculate how much time the office spends on manual documentation, demonstrating how much time automation would save.

When you get key stakeholders on board, they can help direct the automation process. They’ll be more likely to assign a more reasonable budget for what you need and provide support throughout the journey.

Inform and train staff early

Similarly, after you look into HR automation ideas and settle on a path forward, inform all affected staff. While other employees may not have the power to affect your budget or project approval, they deserve to know. Automation can make staff uneasy, so it’s best to inform them early to prepare for the shift.

One study found that 50% of surveyed employees feel either cautious or uncertain about the prospect of automation. Much of this likely arises from a misunderstanding that HR automation will diminish their value as workers. Clarifying from the beginning that the new system will improve their work rather than replace them will help maintain a positive workplace.

In that same vein, it’s important to train any employees whose work will shift with the new system. Preparing them ahead of time will help them grow accustomed to automation sooner. As a result, the automated system will likely deliver a positive ROI quicker.

Start small and expand slowly

To get the most out of your HR automation solution, start small and expand slowly from there.

Start with the process that could benefit most from automation: ideally, something that’s currently inefficient and involves easily automated processes like data entry. When you find the task that would likely result in the most significant improvement, automate that process alone. As you use the new system, monitor it closely and record any issues you encounter.

In the future, when you want to automate other tasks, you can use your record of the first project as a guidebook. Taking this slower, more cautious approach to automation will help you learn how best to implement it.

Understand limitations

Finally, you must understand what HR automation can’t do. Before automating, look through your processes to determine which ones require a human touch. The “human” part of “human resources” is ultimately indispensable. Understanding where automation falls short can help prevent unfortunate pitfalls.

HR Automation has major potential

Automation is one of the most disruptive technology trends across all industries in years. These systems can bring remarkable improvements to HR departments, but achieving those benefits takes planning and careful implementation. HR automation isn’t a panacea but the right approach can lead to considerable success.

If your team develops some HR automation ideas, remember to follow these steps. This slower, more cautious, and value-centric approach to automating will help you get the most out of your new systems.

About the Author:
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine showing how technology is innovating different industries.

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Guest Contributor