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Three ways HR teams can leverage automation to create time for higher-value work

Whether you still call it Human Resources or have moved to new names like People and Culture, Talent Management or People Operations, the business function that manages the onboarding of new employees, the departures of those leaving and the employee experience in between is dependent on hundreds of processes. 

While the HR team is highly focused on ensuring the success of everyone, it’s an often overworked function that is highly dependent on manual processing to keep things running smoothly. Like a duck smoothly gliding across the water, HR is often a hive of hidden activity below the surface.

That can be updating a payroll system with the correct bank account details, processing leave applications, sending letters of offer or commiseration during the hiring process, or combining data from different places for reporting. There are myriad opportunities to automate. 

Benefits of automation 

Although the “H” in HR stands for human, it’s a business function responsible for many critical processes. And those processes can take so much time that they prevent HR professionals from working directly with people. 

Intelligent automation, using smart software tools like Robotic Process Automation (RPA), hands over repetitive and often tedious, tasks to automated software, allowing HR team members to focus on higher-value activities that directly impact the people they work with.

When a process is automated, it can run at any time or even continuously. And, because it follows a set of rules and never gets tired, it is less prone to errors. This releases the HR team from repetitive and mundane work, allowing it to focus on higher-value tasks and handling exceptions to normal activity. Instead of being buried in administrative paperwork, they can get closer to the teams they support and help them improve their performance, boost the employee experience and foster a dynamic culture.

Here are three key ways to get started on your automation journey:  

1. Use smart automation to onboard new team members

It’s not unusual for the hiring process to start with dozens, or even hundreds, of applications. Each of these must be reviewed to start the shortlisting process and prune the list to a manageable size. 

Instead of manually reviewing every letter or resumé, it’s possible to automate the process. That can start with simply extracting attachments from incoming application emails and saving them to a central location. Then, another automated process can scan the contents and search for keywords and phrases that match job requirements. Applications that are a ‘hit’, can be moved to a shortlist.

Once a candidate has been selected, a letter of offer can be automatically generated. This can include information for the successful candidate so they can provide bank details for salary, superannuation information and other data you need. And once received, that data can be automatically sent to the right systems, further reducing manual handling. Similarly, letters can be automated to those who missed out on the role, dramatically speeding up the process, saving time and making the HR team’s work more enjoyable.

2. Use automation to reduce the administrative burden

HR teams may be responsible for ensuring expense tracking, travel allowances and other ad hoc items are correctly collected, collated and managed. Often, this information needs to be collected from disparate systems and distributed to a range of other places. Management approvals may be required, input to payroll systems and reports for the finance team managing budgets.

As the processes for these administrative tasks are well understood and repetitive, they are great candidates for intelligent automation. For example, when a claim for travel expenses is received, it can be automatically directed to the sender’s line manager for review and approval. Once approved, it can be sent to finance so that the expense is tracked against the correct budget and to payroll so reimbursement can be made in the next pay run. Any repetitive, rules-based process like this is an excellent candidate for automation.

3. Leverage automation to simplify reporting

Labour laws require organisations to pay workers fairly, that workplace safety is well managed, and that benefits, such as leave and superannuation, are managed in compliance with the law. However, the data for these and other requirements are often held in different systems.

It’s possible to automate the collection and collation of this data and even produce the reports. As the process is rules-based, you know reports will be reliably produced and distributed on time when needed. 
The best place to start is to identify a repetitive process that is well understood, as this will be easiest to automate. Then look for a partner that can assist with the automation. This could lead you to a software solution that you run on your servers or computers or a cloud-based “as-a-service” offering.

Once you understand how automation works, you can look at other processes that can be automated. But the key is that they are rules-based and repetitive. 

Read more: Let’s Talk -Automation: To be or not to be for your business.

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Leigh Pullen

Leigh Pullen

Leigh Pullen is the co-founder and CEO of CiGen, an Australian specialist in robotic process automation (RPA) and intelligent automation and a trusted partner helping organisations actualise the benefits of RPA and rapid ROI. CiGen On Demand is built to help organisations of all sizes take advantage of automation, the benefits of AI and increase operational efficiency and productivity.

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