Definition

HR automation

Human resources automation (HR automation) is a method of using software to automate and streamline repetitive and laborious tasks and aid an HR department in managing personnel. By freeing up time, HR teams can increase productivity and add value to the company by working on more complex tasks, such as strategizing and decision-making.

Benefits of HR automation

Automating HR tasks can save time by freeing up employees for more valuable or complex tasks. It can also improve security, raise efficiency and reduce the possibilities of human error. Other benefits of HR automation include the following:

  • Less waste. After switching to automation, HR departments may experience a decrease in excessive paperwork, which reduces the costs of materials and manual workflows.
  • Data-driven decision-making. Tracking data across HR functions allows companies to analyze different processes and their effectiveness. Collected data can be used to run reports, measure actionable items, analyze employee experience and find patterns within the data. This information can then be used to create best practices.
  • Transparency and consistency. Automating workflows may improve transparency and create clear roles among staff and employees. Employees can easily make changes to their benefits or submit expense reports when processes are automated. For businesses with several locations, automated processes can create consistent HR practices throughout the company.
  • Increased productivity and better resource allocation. By automating simple, but tedious processes, HR departments can spend time on more complex tasks. Employees can also spend less time on HR process, such as requesting time off or choosing benefits.
  • Better security practices. Managing access layers allows companies to provide tools to the employees who need them and organize protected information.

Common examples of automated HR processes

Some HR management tasks that can be automated include the following:

  • administration, such as paperwork and standardized forms;
  • payroll, including paychecks, salary changes and tasks related to employee pay;
  • benefits management, including benefits that can be accessed by employees with self-service tools;
  • email reminders, including any notifications and memos that need to be sent to employees;
  • new employee recruitment, which involves attracting candidates, hiring and first-day setup;
  • internal employee recruitment, including referral programs, upscale of employee skills and promotions within the company;
  • employee onboarding, including setting up access to programs, hardware and training;
  • employee offboarding, including removing access, organizational restructuring and scheduling exit interviews;
  • training and development, such as tracking employee training and skill set management;
  • timekeeping, including hours worked, sick days, vacation and personal time off;
  • preparing and processing tax forms, contracts and confidentiality agreements;
  • reviewing benefit eligibility and aiding in enrollment;
  • creating and maintaining employee records;
  • government regulations, ensuring that employees are aware of guidelines that impact their work and ensuring that the company is within compliance;
  • job title classification and organizational restructuring;
  • submission and approval of expense reports; and
  • employee performance tracking, including bonuses, discipline and termination.

Automation helps companies stay compliant with regulations, such as labor auditing, employee safety and health or government regulations that effect a specific industry.

Challenges of automating human resources management workflows

While automation of HR tasks provides several benefits for an organization, there are challenges and limits to automation. Many HR tasks involve personal matters that need emotional intelligence and soft skills, both of which require complex human interaction. According to Gartner, other challenges of adopting HR automation include the following:

  • Integration into current processes and architectures. Because current HR automation software is usually specialized with features focused on specific processes, it can be difficult to integrate into current IT infrastructures.
  • Security and privacy. HR software collects a significant amount of data, both structured and unstructured. Clarity on how the data is used should be given to mitigate ethical concerns.
  • Funding AI or automation initiatives. Evaluating employee experience and effective recruitment can be difficult. Organizations need to find ways to use data from HR automation software to drive decision-making and process efficiency.

Automation features to look for in HR software

Although some automation functions are more helpful than others depending on the organization's needs, there are some key automation features a company should look for when investing in HR technology, including the following:

  • Recruitment and hiring tools. HR software tools incorporate the ability to automate the collection and analysis of employee data, including new recruits or applicants. They include tools for determining salary structures, job applicant organization, applicant tracking systems and tools for accepting or rejecting applicants based on certain criteria.
  • Employee portal tools. Accessible, user-friendly employee portals allow company staff to access a dashboard with important information and helpful features. Employees can request time off, change their benefits and track training programs. The software offers real-time access to any important employee records and forms, as well as management and other relevant parties.
  • Payroll and benefit tools. These include pay and benefits calculators, direct deposit tracking, salary receipts and memos. Payroll tools improve paycheck accuracy and scheduling and combine pay information with available employee information. Employee benefits tools track and manage eligibility, promotions, bonuses, healthcare benefits and compensation.
  • Efficient workflow tools. Workflow tools include updates that can be pushed automatically to organized recipient lists. They can also collect feedback and manage process steps.
  • Time and leave tracking tools. These tools include shift scheduling and management, time allocation, leave entitlement and balance and overtime.
  • Performance evaluation tools. Performance evaluation tools include feedback tracking, performance review organization and data collection. These tools can also include features to catch turnover trends and low performance issues.
  • Employee training tools. Training tools include the ability to manage training opportunities, track employee competencies and monitor learning progress.
  • Talent management and retention tools. These tools can gather feedback about employee satisfaction and predict areas in need of improvement before employee resignations. Retention features can spot common behaviors that might be precursors to resignations, such as leaving early, lack of engagement or lowered interest in long-term goals.
  • Data management and analytics tools. Analytics tools included in HR automation software can analyze any data sets and find patterns or trends to aid in decision-making. Sophisticated data management features include easy data collection, detailed report preparation and data visualization.

Popular software vendors offering HR automation tools include the following:

  • SAP SuccessFactors
  • BambooHR
  • Deputy
  • Gusto
  • Zenefits
  • Workday
  • APS
  • Cezanne
  • Namely
  • ClearCompany
This was last updated in December 2021

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