What is HR automation and why should you care?
HR managers are under increasing pressure to keep up with the pace of digital acceleration. Technology is driving change in every area of business, from HR to customer service to finance.
To compound matters, HR departments are being increasingly required to add more value to the core business.
Challenges such as talent shortages, the digital skills gap, and even automation itself can make it difficult for HR departments to keep up, or know where to best invest their efforts.
Fortunately, HR automation can tackle many of these problems, as we will see below.
What Is HR Automation?
An HR automation tool is a software application that automatically performs a wide range of HR tasks, such as:
- Resume analysis
- Job posting
- Job applications
- Benefits selection
- Vacation requests
- Employee surveys
- HR data analysis
- Employee offboarding
Naturally, different types of automation tools will automate different tasks.
There are specialized automation tools that handle specific aspects of the HR function, such as hiring and recruitment, and there are also complex suites, such as HCM platforms, that tackle many tasks simultaneously.
Should you care about HR automation?
In short, yes.
HR automation tools can generate a number of benefits for your business, including:
- Lower HR costs
- Lighter workloads for HR staff
- More effective HR processes
- Improved efficiency
- A better employee experience
- Better outcomes for the organization
In certain circumstances, the right HR automation tool can generate a competitive advantage.
That being said, many other organizations are also adopting HR automation tools.
This means that if you are too slow to adopt, then you are simply catching up to the competition. Early adopters, after all, are often known as innovators, and they are the ones who can catch, get a competitive edge in the market.
How to Make the Most of Your HR Automation Platform
Adopting early is only one factor that influences the outcomes of your HR adoption process, however.
Here are the few other areas to focus on in order to maximize the ROI of your investment.
Choosing the right automation platform
As mentioned above, the automation platform itself makes a big difference in the ROI of your software investment.
Not only do you need to choose a platform that is high quality, you also need to choose one that fits with your business needs, your budget, and your organization’s long term goals.
Types of platforms include:
- Robotic process automation, which automates workflows
- No-code tools, which allow non-coders to create mini-apps and automations
- Intelligent automation, AI-driven automation that can automate cognitive tasks
The choice of the automation platform is one of the most critical decisions to make during the adoption process. But the success of your software deployment depends on a number of other factors, as we’ll see below.
Some employees worry that automation tools will take jobs or that automation tools will make the workplace less human.
These are valid concerns and HR managers should not brush them under the rug.
Instead, it is important to address them openly and implement the tools in a way that will benefit workers.
For instance, even if HR managers can automate much of the hiring process, maintaining a human touch throughout the employee lifecycle is critical for employees to feel appreciated. This, in turn, can detrimentally affect morale, attitudes, and employee metrics.
The success of any business initiative depends on having support from leadership.
When building a business case for adopting your HR platform, identify the key stakeholders. In most cases this means the CHRO, but it can also mean the CIO, the COO, and so forth.
Once you have identified the key stakeholders, learn their language and discover their concerns. A CFO would be interested in costs, for instance, while a CHRO would be interested in improving HR processes and outcomes.
Then build a business case that addresses those concerns. The more commitment that you show, the more likely stakeholders will be to support you, especially if you are playing supports their own agenda.
Employees resist change for many reasons. Most of them stem from fear. The fear of inadequacy, job displacement, or discipline are a few reasons why people resist change.
Another fear, as mentioned above, is the idea that automation will make the workplace less human. Given the events of 2020 and the social isolation that comes with remote working, this is certainly understandable.
It is worth noting that automation tools themselves are not responsible for the negative effects covered above.
Rather, the determining factor is how the tools are implemented.
It is up to HR to stay connected with employees and, in fact, automation tools can allow people to spend more time connecting and focusing on value-added activities.
Business process maps analyze business processes in detail, breaking a process down into aspects such as:
- Process steps
- Financial costs
- Resource utilization
When adopting a new HR automation platform, it is critical to map out HR processes in detail.
Those process maps can help managers calculate the business impact, the impact on the workforce, the platform’s ROI, time-to-ROI, and other critical metrics.
They can also be used to help design a better digital adoption plan, which is also necessary to successful HR automation.
A digital adoption plan
A digital adoption plan creates a strategy for implementing the software, focusing heavily on the employee experience and stages such as onboarding, training, and technical support.
By simplifying these steps, digital adoption managers can address and sidestep many of the problem problems that come with the human side of change, such as those covered above: software-related frustration, employee resistance, and the digital skills gap.
Importantly, many digital adoption plans can be accelerated through digital adoption platforms (DAPs), many of which also include automation features. WalkMe, for instance, includes a number of features that can automate and improve the employee experience, such as chatbots, no-code automation functions, and app training features.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.