two women sitting with a laptop, discussing how to automate HR processes

How HR Automation can Make a Difference in your Business

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2 pie charts in Xref branded colours. 45% of workflows can be automated with existing technology and 61% of leaders thing automation can help hiring

Did you know, according to McKinsey, 45% of workflows can be automated by using existing technologies? A 2020 WorkMarket Insight Report also found 61% of decision-makers believe that automation technology could help hiring managers choose the right talent for the job.

But how can automation find that right talent? A hiring manager still needs to assess a CV, meet the candidate and talk to references. 

In this article, we will explore automated technology options that support these required hiring and employment processes. This can free up HR professionals to focus on what they love - the people. 

So, What Is HR Automation?

HR automation uses technology to replace time-consuming tasks. Automation replaces manual tasks with a tool to make processes more streamlined. This saves organisations time and money. 

Some examples of HR automation include artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to automate many tasks. At Xref, we offer HR technology to automate the process of reference checking. By requesting references through email, businesses reduce the need to organise phone calls and play phone tag with referees. 65% of references completed recently, were done so out of hours. This includes references that were completed overseas, where time zones can be prohibitive for talent acquisition specialists to conduct phone calls. 

Companies like Enablo have been able to scale up quickly due to international references being completed outside regular business hours. 

So, what other HR processes can be streamlined to improve operations? What is the impact of doing this?

Why Should I Use HR Automation?

Digital transformation is on the rise across all industries. Predictive analytics within human resources workflows help improve decision-making. If you want to remain competitive, you have to update technologies and tools. 

Xref user Tibo T, National Talent Acquisition Lead for a mid-market firm says

“Conducting reference checks takes a lot of time and effort; with an automated system that relies on candidates to reach out to their referees…[meaning] the results are much faster and easier to get. The system also allows you to passively get referees interested in joining your organisation which is very cool.”

From Tibo’s review, we can see that a candidate is incentivised to give their references quickly - without adding a nominated reference to the Xref system, the candidate's job application cannot progress. In addition, Tibo is able to grow the talent pool through passive means, because the referee's details are verified and stored, making the data easy to find and refer back to in future. 

Automating the time-consuming tasks that are a necessary part of an HR department gives your team members more time. For example, it allows recruiters to focus more on relationship building. You can streamline your processes while also increasing candidate engagement. 

Automation allows professionals to focus on more strategic initiatives. It also frees up resources that are often overused in administrative actions. If you want to position your organisation for growth, you have to get on board with automation. 

HR Processes to Automate

6 HR processes that can be easily automated 1. applications  2 interview scheduling 3 reference checking 4 onboarding and offboarding 5 time sheets and payroll 6 employee leave, absences, benefits

You can automate processes throughout all stages of the HR cycle. This could range from the application process to annual training. A few key areas where automation will save an organisation a lot of time and money include: 

  • Application processes
  • Recruitment
  • Reference checking
  • Interview scheduling
  • Employee onboarding 
  • Timesheet approval 
  • Payroll
  • Leave/absences
  • Benefits 
  • Employee offboarding

This list is not exhaustive. With some creativity, you can automate across your entire organisation. 

1. Application Processes

Organisations receive an overwhelming amount of applications for every job posting. This leaves little time for anything besides administrative tasks. 

Organisations can experience many benefits from automating the application process. You can improve your time management and enable more focus on growth or relationships. 

The most popular tool used during the application stage is an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). This software allows organisations to automate job applications. It also streamlines CV/resume reviews and candidate engagement. 

If your organisation has pre-screening assessments, you can automate sending these out and even setting up reminders. Your team will spend less time emailing candidates to receive necessary documents and have more time for other tasks.

HR automation software allows you to track and understand extensive data about candidates to help guide business decisions. Automation not only streamlines processes, but it gives organisations insight into valuable information. 

2. Recruitment

Automating recruiting tasks can save the HR department hours of manual tasks. There are many steps in the recruitment process that can be automated, including: 

  • Building candidate profiles
  • Storing candidate files/information
  • Emailing applicants 
  • Updating job descriptions 
  • Background and reference checks

Streamlining the recruitment process gives HR managers more time to focus on picking the right person for the job. 

3. Interview Scheduling 

Scheduling interviews is a key part of the recruitment process and it can also be automated. With easy scheduling and less back and forth, you will also create a better candidate experience. 

44% of candidates don't hear back from a recruiter for weeks. This can muddy the candidate experience and may cause you to lose top talent. But with the interview scheduling tools, you can cut down scheduling to minutes. 

4. Reference Checking

For recruiters around the world, email is the go-to channel for HR communications. So it makes sense that HR leaders and recruitment specialists conduct reference checks via email. 

Xref’s platform allows the HR industry to automate reference checks by conducting them online rather than over the phone. There are many benefits of automated, online reference checks through Xref including our ISO security certification with two-factor authentication to ensure your valuable data is kept safe, completing reference checks outside of hours and detecting unusual activity (so you can gain clarity on the legitimacy of a referee). 

Most of our recent reference checks have been completed in approximately 18 hours, meaning you can hire top talent faster.

5. New Hire Onboarding

Onboarding new workers is a very time-consuming task that automation can streamline significantly. You can automate: 

  • Document signing
  • Delivery of forms/information
  • Scheduling
  • Training resources 

Before you automate processes, it's important that you understand each step of your current onboarding cycle. Assess it thoroughly to identify where you can standardise and automate. You must ensure the onboarding process is engaging and personalised so your new hires feel welcomed. 

Some workplaces will have certain employee training that must be completed, for example, privacy training or compliance and data safety. This training can be automated too. 

6. Timesheet Approval

Is your organisation one that requires timesheet approvals? You can easily automate this process by using a time tracking tool. There are many available that integrate with existing HR systems to make the process even more streamlined. 

7. Payroll

There are many tools available for organisations to automate the payroll process. This is often a time-consuming manual process that takes up hours of work regularly. You can choose to combine payroll with existing accounting software or find a payroll-specific tool. 

8. Leave and Absences 

HR tech can assist to automate annual and sick leave requests so managers can approve employee absences with a few clicks of the mouse. While this type of tool will save the HR and management teams a lot of time, it also enhances the employee experience as employees can quickie and easily submit leave requests. 

Many HR software options also have the ability for employees to see when their colleagues are taking leave - this helps with workflow management. Employees and managers can see who is out of the office at certain times so they can accurately schedule tasks and assess workloads.  

9. Employee Benefits 

You can automate the process of enrolling employees in benefits. You can set alerts to notify workers of new benefits opportunities. You'll save time spent on sending emails by using a system to automate benefits administration.

It will also greatly reduce the time needed to update information and submit required documents. 

10. Offboarding Processes

When an employee resigns, it pays to have a process in place to facilitate their offboarding. Processes like exit interviews, ensuring equipment is returned, forwarding emails on and removing access to cloud-based software can all be automated with HR software. 

Advantages of Automated HR Workflows 

6 advantages of automated workflows 1. save time and money 2 employee experience 3 minimise errors 4 improve productivity 5 improve compliance 6 better reporting

There are many advantages to automating HR workflows that organisations can't afford to miss out on. Whether you want to streamline one focus of HR or the entire department, you will see significant improvements. A few examples include: 

  • Save time
  • Reduce resources used
  • Minimise errors
  • Cost savings 
  • Improved compliance
  • Increased productivity 
  • Increased efficiency
  • Increased diversity 
  • Empowered employees
  • Reporting 

1. Save Time

Eversign refers to a 2019 survey that estimated that employees spend 520 hours a year on repetitive tasks. Automation can eliminate manual tasks to save those eight hours for more strategic or revenue-generating initiatives. 

2. Reduce the Resources you use

With automation, you use fewer resources. This not only saves time and money but allows organisations to allocate those resources to other areas.  

3. Minimise Errors

Automation means fewer manual tasks, which means less risk of human error. Mistakes are a normal part of life but can turn disastrous when not properly managed or if the number of mistakes is frequent and high. Automation greatly reduces the risk of error. 

Fewer errors also mean less risk of penalties or fines associated with uncompliant processes. 

4. Cost Savings 

When your HR team is more focused on strategic initiatives and less on time-consuming tasks, you save money. The number of hours spent on repetitive processes takes up a lot of time, money, and resources. 

Digital record-keeping also saves printer ink and paper which saves money and reduces negative environmental impacts. 

5. Improved Compliance

With less room for error and more accuracy, your organisation's compliance will improve. Depending on where your company does business, there are likely rules and regulations around document storage, employment laws, confidentiality agreements and employee information including contracts and benefits. 

When you use technology to manage most of these processes, you set the rules to make sure everything stays compliant. 

6. Increased Productivity

Automation empowers your HR team to work more efficiently. It also gives them the tools to make more sound decisions more quickly. With streamlined processes, productivity is bound to increase. 

When you use tools and technology, you bridge the gap across processes. This, in turn, reduces employee workloads and stressors. Employees who are more satisfied and have manageable workloads are much more productive. 

7. Increased Efficiency

The HR department is document-driven. There is paperwork for most actions. Chasing down signatures from necessary leaders is time-consuming.

These processes are repetitive and extremely inefficient. Digitising HR workflows cut the repetitiveness. With more efficiency, your entire organisation will see positive benefits. 

8. Increased Diversity 

When you automate the recruitment process, you remove unconscious bias. This leads to more diversity and inclusion within the organisation. Automation throughout the talent acquisition process allows the focus to be solely on qualifications. 

9. Empowered Employees

When employees have access to benefits or training, they are more empowered. No one likes to be micromanaged, and automation allows you to turn some control over to your team. 

Before, employees had to request updates to their address or emergency contacts. Using automation eliminates the need to submit requests for basic changes and allows them to do them quickly. 

With an automated platform, employees can also find answers to common benefits or time off questions. Your HR department will see time savings across all departmental functions. You'll also have a more satisfied and empowered workforce.

10. Reporting

Another key benefit of using automation and tools is access to comprehensive reporting. You can easily generate reports about your employees' performance. Or see analytics about benefits or costs without taking hours to collect information. 

Technology gives leaders insight into their workforce and processes. An HR system can give leadership information about the following: 

  • Time-to-hire
  • Recruitment costs
  • Turnover 
  • Employee satisfaction

More in-depth reports enable leaders to make more informed decisions. For example, they can understand who has earned bonuses or salary raises. 

Final Thoughts

In a hybrid work environment, issues such as data security can be called into question as multiple people access and/or store information in various locations with varying levels of security. However, HR automation technology can reduce security risks and increase efficiencies. With HR automation, companies can save hours of time by streamlining the recruitment and employee retention processes to reduce costs and increase productivity. Overall, this can lead to growth and company success. 

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