June 29, 2023
Read time: 9 min.

Transforming HR: The Future is Automated

by Lyubov Kolomiyets, HR Business Partner at Qollabe

When we think of automation, HR might not be the first thing that springs to mind. After all, HR is so human-centric, and how can you automate that? The truth is that robots aren’t here to take over that. Instead, we can delegate many routines and otherwise mundane tasks to it, allowing us to focus on what we do best – ensuring that all employees are happy, satisfied, and have everything they need to do their jobs well.

Automation. HR. What’s all the fuss?

With HR automation, we can get rid of up to 90% of routine tasks, such as

  • Entering data about new hires
  • Daily look-up of employees’ birthdays
  • Payroll processing
  • Sending newsletters and more

You can’t automate everything of course. One-on-ones with team members, development of long-term strategies, planning, and assessment – all these things cannot be replaced either by automation or AI.

Nonetheless, introducing an automated HRM system into your workflow is a worthwhile consideration as it lets us focus on the things that truly matter.

With that said, let’s take a deep dive into HR automation’s core benefits and implementation strategies.

Core benefits of HR automation

I’ve been working with automated systems for a while now, and these are the main advantages I’ve noticed:

  • It saves time (and sanity). As I no longer had to deal with routine tasks, I had more time and energy to handle complex tasks that required my undivided attention. Without distractions, these tasks suddenly became easier, and deadlines were no longer a problem.
  • Improves quality of work by reducing human error. With routine tasks, you tend to zone out which inevitably leads to errors. By automating these tasks, provided you’ve set up everything right, you significantly reduce the number of errors in data inputs.
  • It saves money. More time for complex tasks + less time spent correcting errors = a win-win for everyone.
  • Better control over HR operations. Before automation, I had to look up and access data from a number of different, non-synchronized sources, so it was sometimes difficult to assess if things are going well or not. Modern HRM software doesn’t just automate but also provides you with all the info you need via easy-to-read UI/UX. Thus, it allowed me to minimize the risks of failure and provided an understanding of things that need improvement.

Tools that we use

1. People Force. This is a human resources information system (HRIS), and it’s truly a wonderful thing. Not only does it allow us to store and manage employee files in one place but also to conduct surveys and track performance and analytics for each team.

One-on-one meeting summaries, employees’ moods and statuses, year-by-year performance analyses, and more. This information is shared between HR and team managers and it helps us see how teams are performing, and what is happening with each team member.
In short, it lets us cut straight to the point and take actionable steps to improve teams’ well-being wherever necessary.

2. Jira. This is a well-known project management tool and we used it to automate the entirety of an employee’s lifecycle in our company. We were well aware of the common onboarding issues. A new hire starts their first week but because ongoing tasks never stop, we might forget to give them access to tools they need for work, provide them with hardware, or add them to our HR system.

We didn’t want to spend time rectifying these errors or have futile attempts of pinning the blame on someone else who had forgotten their job. We want to wow our new employees and show them that our company runs like clockwork. First impressions matter.

This is why we have spent some time writing and automating Jira scripts. These automatically send out onboarding tasks to all new team members up to and including their offboarding.

Jira automation also solves the issue of past employees’ open tasks. Without automation, managers might forget to re-assign tasks from one team member to another, so they end up floating in limbo until someone remembers about them. With careful and thorough implementation of automation, everyone – from IT to accountant – know and understand things they need to do for each onboarding and offboarding case.

3. Academy Ocean. This is our employee self-service portal/knowledge base. As a part of the onboarding process, each new team member needs to understand our policies, values, tone of voice, and corporate culture. Instead of repeating these theses ad nauseam every time, we decided to create an interactive onboarding presentation through which employees can learn all of the above, without feeling like they’re being rushed through the process. Obviously, if any questions arise, we have a people partner assigned to each team that can clarify things.

For certain teams, such as sales and support, this onboarding tour also has a small quiz at the end, to assess if they have properly understood and internalized knowledge about our core values. By automating this assessment, team managers can track employees’ performance during training and trial periods and notice things that they need to improve.

Why do we care about automation? 

Let me get this out of the way: automation is not about short-term gains, but long-term planning and the benefits that will pay dividends long after the people who had set it all up are gone.

You know this joke about how a programmer spends 5 hours to automate a thing that can be done in 5 minutes? It’s kinda like that, but the difference here is that these are 5 hours you need to spend once, rather than spending 5 minutes each day. And, boy, do these minutes add up.

When we were implementing automation, we first had to assess our needs, wants, and expectations. Then we had to outline and formalize these brainstormings, and have a meeting with a strike force that was at the helm of the initiative. This took a lot of time and, de facto, a certain sum of money.

But that’s the easy part. Then we had to talk to our employees and explain to them why automation is worth it. People are creatures of habit, so to ensure the highest odds of adoption, we had to establish an entire communication framework, write implementation instructions, and support team members every step of the way. And that was certainly exhaustive and daunting work, to put it mildly.

Yet, once the storm had passed, and we actually saw it in action, we couldn’t fathom how we lived without it in the past.

For instance, the LMS system saves us 70% of the time spent on onboarding, both for HR and the employee’s manager. New hire also has things to do the very first day on the job instead of twiddling their thumbs and waiting until they can actually get in action. This system also lets us track employees’ pace and observe how quickly they are going through the onboarding process.

The benefit here is two-fold: it lets us see when the new employee can be given new tasks without overwhelming them plus we get data on where the employee stumbles, offering us an opportunity to improve the onboarding in the future.

Jira, meanwhile, keeps us on our toes and guarantees that we don’t forget about new and old tasks. Offboarding, for example, can often be a chaotic process, as there are so many things to do: removing access to internal systems, contract termination, task reassignment, relinquishing hardware, etc. Jira automation makes sure that offboarding isn’t a headache either for employees or for the other team members as we split it into sequential tasks for each department.

So, what happens in practice is that we won’t move on, say, from removing accesses to contract termination, until we are 100% certain that the preceding task has been completed and finalized.

Getting started with HR automation

The most important thing here is to have a plan. You are not Michelle Yeoh and this isn’t Everything Everywhere All at Once.

It’s important to understand which processes need automationhow you can do it, and what software and hardware solutions you’ll need to achieve your goals.

As somebody who had gone through this storm already, I want to share a few bits of advice on how to effectively automate HR processes

  • Determine the company’s needs. First of all, we need to know what exactly we are going to automate. This is where audit is our best friend. Keep track and quantify all regular HR tasks to determine which ones are eating up the majority of your time and which ones are straightforward to automate.
  • Pick the right tools. After determining the company’s needs, we need to choose the right softwares. For example, if the preliminary audit made you realize that you have too many employees to keep track of, the personnel management system (PMS) might just be the tool for the job. In the same vein, Jira will be a boon if you have numerous tasks that require coordination across departments.
  • Training employees. After integrating automated systems into your workflows, you definitely need to spend time training employees on how to use them. There are multiple ways to approach this step, depending on your scope and needs: one-on-one training, pre-recorded video lessons, company-wide seminars, etc.
  • Constant refinement and improvement. There is a high chance that your initial implementation won’t be perfect for a number of reasons. Keep track of how your automated systems perform and if employees have an easy time adopting the new processes. Then, use these findings to iron out the most glaring kinks, rinse and repeat in perpetuity.
  • Make sure that your data is safe and sound. Duh.

Ultimately, I would say that automation is essential if you want to sure the highest efficiency and productivity for your team.

Of course, this road ain’t easy. From the initial planning to implementation and then convincing employees that this is a good thing for them, it’s a monumental challenge but one worth undertaking.

As an HR team, we need to be attuned to this inevitable manifestation of the human condition, the innate refusal to see and accept change. We must be expecting some resistance and be ready to do everything in our capability to convince people that it is a good thing.

By communicating with employees, demonstrating how automation will benefit them, and supporting them every step of the way, it is possible to automate your processes with as few hiccups as possible.

Transforming HR: The Future is Automated

by Lyubov Kolomiyets, HR Business Partner at Qollabe When we think of automation, HR might not be the first thing that springs to mind. After all, HR is so human-centric, and how can you automate that? The truth is that robots aren’t here to take over that. Instead, we can delegate many routines and otherwise mundane tasks to it, […]