Ask any HR professional what their work is really about and you’ll probably learn that HR professionals passionately feel they are a key contributor to the growth of the organization.
Dig a bit deeper and you will find that managing recruitment, onboarding, training, employee well-being and career mobility in practice takes a lot of repetitive administrative tasks. And while HR should fully own the employee lifecycle and execute on an actionable people strategy, a lot of valuable time is still wasted on manual administration and low-level paperwork across HR tasks.
There was a time when there was no alternative. Physical paperwork like entering data into systems, filling out forms, sharing files via e-mail simply had to be done by a pair of human hands. But with today’s possibilities to automate processes and integrate systems HR can and should take away the vast majority of low-value admin work around the company’s people processes. Process automation enables HR teams to streamline and speed up their ways of working, automate manual tasks, and devote more time to the kind of work that actually makes the workplace a better place.
For sure it will take some investment in tech to put in place smart data integrations and automated workflows, but without a doubt the benefits greatly outweigh the costs. And by far the most important reason to put in place HR automation should be to put an end to HR staff drowning in admin work that keeps them from checking in with that one important job candidate, working on the leadership program, or finally fixing those broken onboarding processes. Eliminating repetitive ‘busywork’ will boost the overall experience for employees as well as for HR professionals.
Using process automation to simply make better jobs should be reason enough to re-evaluate HR tasks and automate simple and repetitive work. However, there are more convincing reasons to make this investment. For one; smartly automated admin processes bring efficiency up and errors down. After all, paperwork can get stuck in a queue on someone’s desk. And that someone might be out of office making that job applicant turn elsewhere. Simple work shouldn’t have to wait for people to be in the office.
Also, HR automation allows HR leaders to track, collect and analyse data of all kinds. Automated processes provide meaningful data points and a clear overview of statuses and stages of HR work. This will clarify each other’s responsibilities and give HR a clear case when working with other departments like Finance or IT to improve ways of working across the organization.
And how to actually do it? Piecing together your HR systems isn’t that hard as it used to be. Thanks to APIs, apps and an increasing emphasis on integration standards this has become way less ‘IT-driven’ than before.
However, before you rush to your management to secure some budget you first need to thoroughly map out the integration journey. It is really about understanding your users current pain points. Where are processes isolated in silo’s? Who is manually re-entering data in what system? Also; talk to your IT team. What do they currently do around system integration? And last but not least; consider what it will take to make your teams adopt to a new processes. The complexity of the change will determine how much training they’ll need, if any, once you roll out the integration. In short, describe your integration use case before you start spending money on tech work. But clearly, with some thinking first and the right questions answered, it is a step forward that any self-respecting HR team should take. Our people are obviously what make our companies successful in the end. Give them the right tooling that takes drudgery paperwork of their shoulders, and it will empower them to work on things that matter.
Jochem ter Steege