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Automation and human resources might seem like they're two contradictory ideas - machines and humans aren't always natural partners. But in fact, HR automation can significantly improve business efficiency, make workflow on your HR team smoother, and reduce errors.

How exactly does HR automation make that happen? In this post, we'll explore the ten ways how HR automation can increase the efficiency of your business and benefit your whole organization.

Let's get started!

What is HR Automation?

Automation in HR management is using technology to tackle tedious manual tasks related to the HR function. 

Your HR team likely does plenty of time-consuming manual tasks to keep everything running smoothly. And while these tasks do need to get done, they're taking up time that could be spent on more valuable activities.

Why HR Automation?

Automation in Human Resource Management can help you:

  • Organize important documents electronically.
  • Import needed documentation
  • Store files in standard formats so you can use them across devices
  • Serve as a records archive.
  • Prepare you for audits by keeping information and data organized.

These administrative tasks are all important, but machines can just as quickly do machines as humans. And with HR budgets shrinking at many places, getting these tasks done quickly and efficiently without hiring extra headcount is vital. HR automation is the solution.

Employers increasingly agree - SHRM found that 17% of work was automated in 2020, versus just 5% in 2014.

Automation versus outsourcing

The human resources role continues to evolve at a faster pace than before. Organizations are now trying to find the perfect balance between strategic work in-house, automation and outsourcing.

Recent studies on the evolving role of the HR professional indicate that a significant part of HR functions, like administrative responsibilities, will either be automated or outsourced to others.

10 HR Automation Best Practices

So what could HR automation look like for your company? Let's look at some of the best HR automation examples of how you can increase business efficiency with the right hr tools.

1. Decreasing error rates

Many data entry tasks for HR teams are still done via manual entry - inputting leave dates, payroll and hourly info, and employee information. But doing all these tasks by hand leaves plenty of room for errors to creep in. Employees get tired, distracted, or a little dazed by the tedious, repetitive nature of data entry, and mistakes happen.

Fixing these mistakes isn't just a bother - they sometimes lead to frustrating or expensive errors that cause bigger issues down the line. Avoiding these minor manual errors can add both time and cost savings for your business.

2. More motivation for employees

Let's face it - almost no one enjoys taking on those small, mindless tasks like data entry. Employees are most engaged when their work has purpose and meaning, and entering employee info into a spreadsheet does not fit that bill. Even your HR managers feel the pressure - they spend an average of 14 hours per week manually completing tasks that could be automated.

Freeing up your talented HR team to focus more on what they do best - like managing employee performance, driving company strategy, and managing change - helps employees stay more motivated to perform well and do their best.

3. Simplifying workflows

Many legacy HR tasks, processes, and workflows are highly complex. There are many necessary steps to complete each phase, a whole team of people involved, and everything seems like it takes forever. This is the opposite of efficiency.

But with HR automation, checking and managing these human resource processes is much simpler. For example, checking and managing vacation days and sick leave is a big and complicated task when done manually.

But with HR automation, all the information is at the team's fingertips with just a quick search - no need to pull files or send a request to HR. It's simple, fast, and accurate.

4. Adding security to data

HR files and information are vital to running your business. You may be required to retain information from years or even decades back, and you need to keep info in case of audits or for future reference.

With many legacy HR systems, all of this information sits on one platform - and if that has an issue, your data can be gone forever. (We won't even talk about the horror of a paper-based system going down in a fire or flood!)

On the other hand, when you use HR automation, your data is backed up to your company's online servers. It's safe even in the event of a crash, a power outage, a natural disaster, or anything else that might happen. It's one of the biggest HR automation best practices to provide those backups in an emergency.

5. Improve the hiring and onboarding process

Hiring and new employees onboarding is one of your HR team's most important tasks. While no HR software could take the place of a skilled hiring expert for people-focused tasks like interviewing candidates, automation can play a critical role too.

HR automation in the hiring process can help you filter a large pool of candidates down to the most promising ones and select profiles based on skills and characteristics likely to succeed, which is especially important since 52% of HR professionals say the skills gap for candidates has worsened in the past two years.

And you can automate keeping qualified candidates in the loop during the first phase of the hiring process. Plus, AI-based systems can help keep implicit bias and discrimination from affecting who makes it into the candidate pool.

6. More focus on employee needs

Finding out what your employees want, need, and value isn't easy for any HR organization - but it's a critical task. There are many tools at your disposal for this (like employee engagement surveys and employee satisfaction surveys), but HR automation has a role to play too.

AI tools can help your HR team determine employees' needs by analyzing their behavior and spotting patterns. It can also help you catch issues before they become big problems and identify possible solutions.

7. Make better business decisions

Analyzing and learning from data is one of the best ways your business can make better decisions about almost anything - HR included.

Using HR automation tools can help you collect accurate data about HR-related aspects, like headcount, employee data, compensation and salary trends, and more. And using the AI in those tools can help you conduct sophisticated analyses of that data to drive better-informed decisions for your company as well.

For example, you can use AI to determine which employees are succeeding in their roles and which ones are struggling and see if a shift would be a better fit. Or you can look at a team that's having trouble succeeding and see what changes could make a big difference. Instead of guessing based on instinct, you can add data to the mix and get real results from your teams. If you’re looking to build an in-house AI team, here’s an in-depth guide for hiring AI developers.

8. Creating cost efficiencies

Many companies resist moving to HR automation because of the initial upfront cost. And it's true - these systems aren't cheap most of the time (though some options are lower in cost).

Budgets are tight, and the future of business is a bit uncertain right now, so it makes sense to be cautious. But in reality, looking at the long-term savings from an HR automation tool can show a huge overall decrease in costs even when you factor in the tool itself's cost.

Think of it as a long-term investment in your business. Yes, you're spending money now, but there are multiple cost efficiencies you'll gain as you use this tool or tools over time.

These savings come from significantly reduced error rates, better hiring processes, better data control, security, lower employee headcount, and increased motivation and productivity among existing employees. Pretty compelling, right?

9. Keeping things consistent

Everyone on your HR team does things a little bit differently. One team member handles data entry, and another uses a different system. One group runs a process in a certain way, while another group uses another method.

While not everything in HR needs to be done the same way, increasing data and processes consistency can yield significant efficiencies.

This is especially true in today's complex HR environment. HR process automation makes sure that vital tasks are completed in the same way every time, reducing the need for manual interventions and ensuring everyone is on the same page all the time. It helps you stick to predefined workflows and prevent irregular processes from maintaining efficiency.

10. Building organizational resilience

If you have some superstar performers on your team, you're lucky! But you can also grow to depend on them too much. When those superstars leave, you're left with gaps in knowledge and sometimes data and processes too.

But when you include HR automation, you can create backups for all those processes and information, so you're not entirely reliant on a handful of employees to stick around.

This helps your organization become more resilient - you're prepared when people leave, as they inevitably will, and your whole team won't come crashing to a halt when it happens.

Key takeaways

In today's highly competitive business environment, you need to gain every efficiency you can to compete. HR automation is a great way for your company to run faster, smarter, and serve your valuable employees better. It might seem strange to use machines to help your people succeed, but that's exactly the goal of HR automation tools - and it's easier than ever to find the ones that work for you.

If you're looking for an automated tool to help you reward, recognize, and engage your employees every day with data-driven technology, Book a Demo or Schedule a Free Trial of Empuls today.

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Kathleen O'Donnell

Kathleen O'Donnell LinkedIn

Kathleen is a freelance writer and employee communications and culture expert, with 6+ years of experience in corporate internal communications.