What Is HR Automation and How to Leverage It in 2023
The beauty of HR automation is that it lets you automate critical but heavily manual tasks: the monotonous, repetitive, and prone to errors kind of work.
Valuable documents can go missing, forms may be left incomplete, and deliverables are left unfinished. But these can be old stories if you switch to an automated HR process.
Automating your HR processes leads to:
- Increased productivity
- Higher employee engagement
- Improve communication and collaboration
- Reduced operating costs
- Streamlined and consistent workflows
There is no need to take our word for it—we have numbers to back it up. Studies indicate automation can decrease administrative costs by 30% for HR professionals and 49% for employers.
But how can your team apply HR automation to experience these benefits?
🤖 What is HR automation?
HR automation refers to the process of enhancing and streamlining human resource management tasks through the use of technology, software, and digital systems. It aims to reduce manual, repetitive tasks, improve accuracy, and enable HR professionals to focus on more strategic and value-added activities.
These tasks are time-sensitive and critical,yet prone to errors. Some examples are payroll management, benefits enrollment, onboarding, attendance management.
✈️ How can HR automation help you become more effective?
HR automation benefits your organization for a simple reason: to free up your HR personnel’s time so that they can concentrate on more complex issues like strategizing and decision-making, delivering better candidate, and employee experiences.
According to Zapier data, HR professionals save eight hours every week using automation. They can use these extra hours each week to focus on your biggest asset: your people.
Smoother and more effective workflows
HR teams have to spend less time completing redundant or repetitive tasks (think: creating calendar events, integrating systems, messaging employees).
The time saved from these tasks can be redirected towards more value-producing activities. For example, the HR professional can solve employees’ doubts faster, resulting in faster delivery.
The majority of HR tasks are document-driven. They can be highly inefficient and time-consuming when done manually because of errors, filing issues, or “stuck “paperwork.
On the other hand, when you automate these tasks, you’ll see an instant boost in productivity and efficiency. No more looking for physical files or manually finding specific numbers. Once the data is entered into the automation program, managing documents will be a breeze.
Instead, the HR department can concentrate on culture building and communicating with the people, which, in turn, will facilitate organization-wide development.
Faster, friction-free collaboration
Workflows often require input or action from other team members and departments. Delays in communications or hand-off problems can result in unnecessary time wastage or workplace frustration.
Luckily, HR automation makes it easier for employees to route items to the right person for feedback, approval, or status updates, regardless of the department. Each team member also has improved visibility which is more than seeing the status of the requests and work items.
HR automation reduces dependency on manual labor that paves the way for human error.
There will be fewer opportunities for workplace mistakes, plus data across all departments, platforms, and apps are unified to provide more consistent records, eliminating repeated data entry.
Reduced processing costs
Replacing your paper-based processing with HR process automation can save you some money.
Since you don’t have to print as many documents as before—or file them as a record—you minimize your need for stationery and storage space. All your documents can be recorded and accessed at the click of a button (thankfully!).
Your organization needs to adhere to data capture and management best practices to comply with applicable regulations. The problem here is that data security and compliance regulations are becoming more stringent and often complicated.
Even the most minor mistakes can result in huge penalties and tarnish your organization’s reputation, leading to loss of business opportunities.
HR automation best practices ensure all sensitive candidate and employee data are safely stored, plus go a step further to ensure all candidates are offered equal opportunities and treated fairly at the workplace.
🚦 Does this mean automation will replace the “human” element?
Absolutely not. The whole point of HR operations automation is to help HR professionals work smarter and achieve better outcomes.
How? Automation creates more opportunities for you to connect and build meaningful relationships with others. The auto-pilot mechanism frees up HR task time, allowing you to focus on having actual conversations with your people instead of being bogged down with redundant admin tasks. When you automate manual HR processes, simple tasks and queries are handled automatically with little to no human involvement.
In other words, HR automation fosters and facilitates the “human “component.
For example, take your onboarding process. If your organization hires new talents often, HR managers won’t have to repeat the same process and procedures to educate the new hires about the company culture. Set up an automatic onboarding journey once, and reuse it again for the next onboarding program.
As a result, HR managers will have more time to welcome the new hires and get to know them personally. In this way, you can reduce employee turnover and improve employee engagement in the long run. It’s the ultimate win-win solution.
🙋 What HR tasks can (and should) you automate?
Now that we’ve established the benefit of HR automation, let’s discuss the HR processes you should automate.
1. Reminders and notifications
Your HR department is already juggling several duties and responsibilities. Compared to that, manually sending reminders and notifications to ensure that every task is complete can be time-consuming and … frustrating.
HR software can send automatic email alerts to the HR team and respective employees, reminding them about upcoming deadlines, performance reviews, new starters, and other events. This will make it less likely for the overall team to forget important dates and tasks while also saving HR managers from chasing people to complete action items.
Automation, in this case, helps communication, saves time, and aids compliance by ensuring vital actions are taken at the appropriate time.
Doing payroll manually is a slow process that often takes hours (even days) and has a higher chance of producing errors. Using payroll systems like QuickBooks or ADP, on the other hand, will automate your payroll, resulting in:
- Better time management: Reduce errors of manually recording working hours or time-off requests, preventing over or underpaying your employees.
- Accurate calculations: Automate calculating taxes, deductions, overtime, and commissions to pay your staff the correct amount on time.
- Payroll records: The IRS mandates employee tax records to be held for a minimum of four years, and the US Department of Labor requires payroll records to be kept for at least three years. With payroll software, you can store your company’s payroll data digitally, saving you a lot of time and headache in case of an audit.
3. Onboarding and recruitment
Recruiting and onboarding new employees are two of the most critical jobs of HR managers. They involve a large amount of important paperwork and responsibilities.
When onboarding and recruitment are manual and paper-based, you deal with many documents. Lost paperwork is one of many problems that could happen as the records are often passed between different people and cause prolonged hiring processes.
HR automation can improve the admin experience by having the records on a computer system, allowing visibility between departments, minimizing human error, and preventing paperwork loss.
It also drastically reduces hiring time by accelerating candidate screening and background checks if coupled with data analytics or by using data analytics consulting services.
This is a huge advantage, considering 57% of job seekers lose interest in a job if the hiring process is lengthy.
4. Performance evaluation
We’ve passed the days where performance management was an annual event that determined whether employees were good at their jobs.
Today, it’s a dynamic process that regularly evaluates employee performance by aligning it with your organization’s long-term and short-term objectives.
Although the frequency is increasing, the effort you need to evaluate employee performance decreases if you use an HR automation system. You can use the automation tools to identify, measure, and provide suggestions to improve employee performance without your active involvement.
Automation also ensures each employee’s data is accurate, leading to fair appraisal for each employee.
Other advantages of automating employee performance include real-time feedback for effective employee development, training and development gap discovery, and actionable insights into counterproductive activities.
5. HR analytics
Human resources also deal with a lot of data. Unfortunately, most of this data goes unused due to the large volume that’s nearly impossible to sort through manually.
This is where HR analytics comes into the picture.
HR analytics refers to recording and analyzing HR data to enhance workforce performance and the impact of vital HR metrics on your organization’s overall performance. Here’s how it works:
- It improves employee engagement that leads to a productivity boost.
- It provides insights into staff turnover rate so that you can design a more robust employee attention strategy.
- Monitors absenteeism rates to uncover ways to create a more pleasant workplace culture.
6. Attendance management
Tracking employees' attendance and working hours is a must for every organization. However, manual recording time and marking attendance are ineffective ways to manage attendance.
Modern attendance tracking tools allow HR to monitor, track, and record employees working hours and attendance details automatically. This system can make the entire process easy and hassle-free. After using this system, the data will be compiled together and ready for payroll.
HR automation helps to eliminate physical paperwork and make HR activity more effective and error-free. So having the right HR automation tool can help automate these tasks and make a big difference.
🙅 What HR tasks shouldn’t you automate?
As discussed, the whole point of HR process automation is to make the lives of HR managers and professionals easier and secure better outcomes—not to replace them. After all, a human touch is HR’s specialty.
But where should you draw the line?
You can never really replace the human element when it comes to the development and leadership of your workforce. HR has a pivotal role in answering complex benefits questions, having meaningful conversations, giving feedback, and addressing employee complaints and doubts.
Effective one-on-one interactions with employees are what sets a workplace apart. Technology is just another tool in the HR’s toolbox—one that they should leverage to free up their time and focus on tasks that require or are enhanced by human conversations.
👍 Real-Life HR automation examples and case studies
Here, we’ll discuss real-life examples and case studies to help you understand how companies embrace HR process automation and achieve significant milestones.
1. Payroll automation: FuelCell Energy
It was supposed to be just another payroll run for FuelCell Energy when the company’s payroll manager realized that each employee was going to receive someone else’s pay.
FuelCell Energy’s HR director Sandi Mauro, along with her small team, had compiled Excel spreadsheets with updated workers’ compensation numbers for the 600-strong workforce. Unfortunately, one of the spreadsheets was sorted incorrectly, leading to veterans getting paid as new hires, rank-and-file workers as the senior management—it was utter chaos.
While Mauro managed to avert the crisis by stopping payroll run a day before it was processed, the incident solidified the need for better controls over compensation planning processes.
There were problems before, too. Manual payroll often leads to errors and there was no transparency into how pay was being calculated for employees.
This was when FuelCell Energy decided to invest in SR automation software. 90 days later, the results were clear, the software:
- Minimized human error
- Gave more free time for HR
- Provided compensation transparency for employees
2. Recruitment automation: The Osceola County’s Sheriff’s Office, Florida
The Osceola County’s Sheriff’s Office faced a nationwide shortage of police officers. As a result, the department knew they needed an effective alternative for their paper-based recruitment process that often led to lost forms, several stacks of paperwork, and stunted communication between departments and applications.
That’s when the staff implemented HR automation in a pre-employment online assessment.
Within the first year of implementation, the Osceola County’s Sheriff’s Office scaled its recruiting efforts from 446 applications in 2012 to 1,305 applications in 2013. More importantly, the department found better quality candidates and filled the vacancies faster.
Overall, automating recruitment enabled the Sheriff’s Office to complete paperless background checks and send automated emails to candidates to update them about their application status. The $2,000 saving of office supply is another cherry-on-top for them.
3. Onboarding automation: Alasco
Alasco had ambitious plans in line with its mission to help real estate owners maximize ROI: the company planned to grow its workforce by nearly 60% while adapting to a hybrid work model.
Initially, onboarding was not a big issue. New hires would be personally introduced to essential topics by superiors and were given detailed email instructions to make the first few weeks comfortable.
Things changed when Alasco had to go remote. It became more challenging for the fast-growing company to virtually give new hires the same high-quality onboarding experience. This was something they wanted to continue doing.
Alasco uses Zavvy’s onboarding software to automate (and accelerate) onboarding, helping the company cut down manual workload in half and create structured internal processes to deliver a rich and diversified experience beyond the traditional emails.
New employees love this new and improved experience, too. They rated their hiring experience with Zavvy an impressive 4.7 out of 5 stars.
🛠️ 13 Effective HR automation tools to try
In this section, we’ve compiled a shortlist of HR automation tools to help you get started with automating everyday HR admin tasks.
- For attendance tracking — TimeClock Plus
- For applicant tracking and recruitment — BambooHR/Personio
- For payroll processing — Gusto
- For actionable HR data and reporting — Visier People
- For calculating and approving employee leave — Kissflow HR Cloud
- For employee scheduling — Payco
- For background checking and screening — Experian
- For automating contracts — DocuSign
- For sending reminders and notifications and automating routine processes — Slack
- For creating custom automation — Zapier
- For barcode time tracking — Agendrix
- For creating customizable attandance policy — Truein
- For everything people development & performance — Zavvy
Want to take employee experience to another level? Use Zavvy to map consistent employee journeys and lay the foundation for long-lasting relationships right from the start.
Zavvy takes care of everything: onboarding, employee training and development, feedback and performance review cycleand connection programs to cultivate a harmonious and engaging work culture. What’s more, you can also use Slack’s workflow builder with Zavvy to create your own workflow automation and enhance onboarding efficiency.
No time for creating the journey from scratch? No worries. Zavvy offers pre-made templates that you can further customize based on your needs. In addition, our support team will help in every step until you’re confident to manage things on your own.
📈 HR automation trends for 2023
Let’s take a brief look at the latest HR automation trends to help you create an up-to-date automation strategy for your organization.
1. Virtual workforces are here to stay
Many major companies like Twitter, Shopify, Facebook, and Slack have embraced and elevated working from home. This move makes sense considering 65% of workers prefer to continue working from home post-COVID.
Keeping this in mind, HR departments need to adjust to this reality and create workflows and strategies that support a fully remote or hybrid work culture.
2. Recruitment holds the most automation potential
Recruitment can be a repetitive and time-consuming process—making it the perfect area to automate. Still, companies are currently automating only 6% of all recruitment tasks.
We can expect more recruitment-related tasks to become automated over the next few years, especially with the recent advances in AI and HR tools.
For instance, the recruitment process can be streamlined by utilizing LinkedIn automation tools such as Linked Helper, and this is just one of many examples.
3. HR departments to modernize faster backed by AI automation across all levels
Human resources in the digital age are becoming increasingly demanding and complex. To keep up, companies will apply AI automation in many areas, including onboarding, training, and recruitment.
This will enable HR to anticipate inquiries and issues, deliver a more personalized approach, minimize repetitive tasks, focus more on tasks requiring a human touch, and ensure 24/7 availability through AI-powered chatbots.
4. Online employee training to develop and enhance skills
The main idea behind employee training is to elevate productivity among staff. With workforces going remote, it’s only time before employee training will follow suit and become online.
Expect companies to turn to automated online learning platforms and workshops to provide employees with learning opportunities to develop and enhance their skill sets.
5. Increase adoption of payroll automation
Over the last few years, many companies have implemented payroll software to automate various processes, from sending out invoices to sending payments directly into the employee’s bank accounts.
The time saved can be better spent holding meaningful one-on-one conversations and leading employees towards success. Avoiding human error when processing payments, which is costly in terms of money and time, is another significant benefit.
🚀 Automate the busywork: Deliver amazing experiences at a click, with Zavvy
There’s increasing pressure on companies to deliver exceptional employee experiences in the wake of the Great Resignation and quiet quitting. Through HR automation, you can create unified workflows to improve candidate and employee journeys and prioritize your company’s biggest asset: its people.
Zavvy isn't just an HR automation tool. It's your partner for creating excellent employee experiences.
With Zavvy, you will automate your processes, elevate your HR practices, and empower your team to focus on what truly matters - your people:
- 🌐 Seamless integration, total automation: Zavvy offers a comprehensive People Enablement Platform that seamlessly integrates with your existing HR infrastructure. Say goodbye to tedious manual tasks and data silos. Zavvy streamlines and automates HR processes, creating a unified ecosystem where everything works in harmony.
- 🚀 Onboarding, reimagined: First impressions matter. Zavvy's onboarding automation ensures that your new hires have a seamless and engaging welcome experience. From digital document signing to personalized training modules, we empower you to create a lasting impression from day one.
- 🔄 Performance Reviews, simplified: Ditch the paperwork and embrace streamlined performance reviews. Zavvy automates the entire process, from feedback collection to goal setting. Make evaluations more insightful and less time-consuming.
- 📋 Career frameworks for growth: With Zavvy's career frameworks, you can define clear growth paths for every team member. Ensure that your employees have a roadmap for career progression within your organization, promoting loyalty and skill development. And with Zavvy AI, it only takes a few clicks to define career paths for all your departments, and fully-defined competency models across levels of expertise.
- 🤖 AI-Powered employee development: Investing in your team's growth has never been this smart. Zavvy's AI-driven employee development tools analyze skills, identify gaps, and recommend personalized learning paths. Transform your workforce into a high-performing, adaptable team.
- 🧠 Continuous learning: In the era of remote work and digital transformation, learning never stops. Zavvy's extensive training library, personalized learning paths, and automated course recommendations ensure your workforce is always ahead of the curve.
- 📈 Drive engagement and well-being: Employee engagement is the heart of a thriving organization. Zavvy's engagement survey software measures sentiment, identifies areas of improvement, and empowers you to create a workplace where people truly flourish.
- 📊 Data-driven decision making: Zavvy's analytics and reporting capabilities provide deep insights into your HR processes. Make data-driven decisions to optimize employee performance, engagement, and retention. Uncover trends, identify opportunities, and take proactive steps towards organizational excellence.
📅 Ready to embrace the future of HR? Book a demo to discover how Zavvy can revolutionize your people ptoday.