People-centric HR Automation: What is it and how does it work?
Human resources (HR) is all about people. But often, paperwork and repetitive manual processes get in the way of that focus, leading to disgruntled employees, slowed work and missed opportunities.
With paper-reliant processes, human resource managers and staff struggle with slow hiring processes, payroll clerical errors and other time-consuming administrative tasks. And all of this is exacerbated by organizations tightening budgets, staff shortages and increasing expectations from HR by employees and new hires.
These are the takeaways we’ll cover in this guide:
- The importance of intelligent automation in HR services
- Examples of how HR processes can implement automation to improve work
- Automation trends and capabilities of intelligent automation tools and software
- The key benefits of bringing automation into HR
What is HR Automation?
Human resources automation uses automation software to streamline work in your HR department.
We’re going to start with the basics: intelligent automation (IA), robotic process automation (RPA), machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI).
Intelligent automation technology encompasses RPA, AI and ML.
RPA is the deployment of software robots to automate tasks by mimicking your human employees. Machine learning is a branch of AI focused on using data and algorithms to learn pathways. And as you probably know, AI is a cognitive technology mimicking human thinking.
Our main focus is on intelligent automation, which deploys digital workers and can have several added automation tools, including natural language processing (NLP) for interpreting human communication and optical character recognition (OCR) for converting an image of text into a machine-readable format.
Bringing these technologies into HR can start small and scale quickly to encompass your entire business processes across departments and industries.
As such, HR is a great place to start with your automation journey because it’s riddled with potential bottlenecks and slowdowns; those are ripe opportunities for IA. Automating these tasks means you’re not taking work away from your HR people. Instead, you’re freeing them from monotonous tasks so they can focus on higher-value and more fulfilling work, such as the people-facing tasks needing the human touch.
Remember, HR is about people.
HR automation challenges
The main challenge for HR departments implementing intelligent automation is bottlenecks. What we mean by that is, there are plenty of processes within HR which, as they currently stand, have many siloes keeping them from efficiency. And that also poses a challenge to your digital workers. You can’t throw automation into a one-size-fits-all solution. With IA comes the responsibility of having a business strategy and purpose for your digital transformation goals.
Don’t worry, though! We’re not just going to leave you with a problem. We’ve got the solution.
Process mining and task mining are where you examine your ‘as-is’ workflow to identify bottlenecks and potential system errors. Once you’ve determined these, you can set to fixing them so they’re ready for automation.
Here’s our humble little plug: SS&C | Blue Prism® Process Intelligence (BPPI). You get combined task mining, process mining and business intelligence to identify the right processes and run them at peak performance. BPPI also integrates business process management (BPM) to facilitate decision-making and unify your digital workforce with your people. It gives complete visibility to monitor, respond and predict future outcomes in your processes.
As you know, there are several challenges in daily tasks for HR teams, including using old or legacy systems, slow employee onboarding, errors in payroll and lack of security and privacy — all of which we’ll discuss in this guide.
Why is automation important in HR?
HR is dedicated to security and privacy. But that’s difficult to maintain with error-prone work from manually keying data and missing or lost information. That’s why intelligent automation is so valuable.
By integrating rules into your digital workforce, IA ensures your teams stay compliant with industry or government regulations. And it doesn’t matter which industry your organization lives in. Bringing digital workers into your processes ensures compliance.
Plus, with further automation tools (as we mentioned above), digital workers can automate complex tasks, read structured and unstructured data and monitor information to flag errors or disruptions. They also document their performance for clearer transparency and auditability.
Beyond that, IA boosts company culture morale by giving employees more interesting work. Meanwhile, the cost savings and operational efficiencies gained from fewer human errors and more focused work means your organization benefits from better returns on investment (ROI).
We’ll jump more into the many benefits of intelligent automation for HR. But first, let’s look at examples of how you can integrate an intelligent digital workforce to improve your HR processes.
HR Automation Examples
The best way to automate is by first finding the right process candidates with the highest potential ROI and automating those.
- Find the processes with a defined workflow, whose processes are high volume but low complexity.
- Consider automating cyclical work first, such as payroll, since these occasional duties often distract your HR staff from their other regular work.
- Determine whether the data format is structured and readable. As we said, digital workers can handle unstructured data, but as a starting point, looking at simpler, ‘quick win’ automation opportunities may be beneficial.
- Find processes that work across multiple applications. Digital workers connect disparate systems, so this is a great place to start in your automation process toward end-to-end digital transformation.
Now that you have an idea of where to start, we’ll go over some major opportunities in your HR processes.
Hiring new employees and making them feel welcome is your organization’s opportunity to make a good and lasting impression. The smoother your new hire’s onboarding experience, the more likely they’ll stay on the job. And with improved efficiency through automation, you’ll save money in the process as well.
So, what can SS&C Blue Prism intelligent automation do for your employee onboarding experience?
- Rapidly deploy digital workers to reduce manual entry tasks, emails, forms, scheduling and calls
- Use digital workers for automatic candidate screenings and background checks
- Easily communicate with and support your candidate by staying connected with them through multichannel, web chat, voice, IM and mobile
- Optimize and better utilize your existing resources without increasing the number of people working on them
- Seamlessly integrate with third-party software by using SS&C Blue Prism pre-built automation solutions
- Accelerate and give a consistent experience with your onboarding process using an automated workflow for the many new starter steps for IT, HR and facilities — keeping pertinent information aligned and readily available
- Increase your talent team’s productivity by utilizing data intelligence and pre-configured dashboards to understand candidate trends better and proactively identify improvement opportunities
Case study: Healthcare Holdings Limited (HHL), the New Zealand-based healthcare group, utilized intelligent automation to take their employee onboarding process from something that took a person 30-45 minutes to complete to only two minutes by their digital worker.
Find out how SS&C Blue Prism can help you with employee onboarding automation.
Payroll is a huge automation opportunity for HR teams because payroll management is a tedious but equally critical role for any organization.
Payroll is well-suited to RPA because it’s inherently rule-based. Everyone needs to be paid the correct amount, keeping in mind tax deductions, salary sacrifice, pension contributions or student loans, and all employees should be reliably paid at the same time each month. Finally, you need to keep track of anyone entitled to seek payment, who has recently left or joined, is on long-term leave and so on.
While this work could take hours of checking and cross-checking documents for verification, digital workers can complete the task at a lower cost in less time and without errors. You don’t have to hire more HR staff. And with employees getting paid what they should, your normal work operations will run without a hitch.
What do you get with SS&C Blue Prism intelligent automation in payroll processing?
- We offer an automation platform that keeps employee data updated in real-time, informing stakeholders within payroll automation systems and notifications to ensure staff are paid the correct amount on time
- Salary processing with digital workers managing multisystem employee payment processes automatically
- Salary reviews, changes and commissions are calculated by digital workers, who also manage salary budgets and update records accordingly
- Managing statutory tax reporting is easier with digital workers automating payroll data transfers and synchronizing reporting across multiple systems
- Maintaining compliance regardless of business structure complexity
- Tracking who’s set up for healthcare programs, salary sacrifice schemes or extra pension contributions without draining human resources
Learn other ways you can benefit from payroll automation here.
Training and development
Promoting learning and development opportunities for your teams can help drive your organization’s long-term success. It empowers employees to upskill and encourages employee retention and loyalty by helping them build their careers.
IA allows your HR team to spend more time on employee performance management within your organization so your talent is invested in your business’ growth. Here are specific ways IA can encourage learning and development across your organization:
- Track and recommend personalized learning courses using AI and machine learning based on past training, career aspirations and role availability
- Enable employee training in the flow of work with employee self-service capabilities
- Conduct training programs for your employees through an interactive and engaging learning environment supported by conversational AI bots
- Use AI-powered simulations to train and assess employees
Other HR automation examples
We’ve covered a few examples already, but HR can benefit from automation in various ways, from simple administrative tasks to complex processes. Here is our list of other possible ways you can automate your human resource management:
- Employee performance appraisals
- Organizational restructuring
- Tax forms processing
- Timekeeping, including vacation, sick days and personal time off
- Employee offboarding and scheduling exit interviews
- Internal employee recruitment and promotions
- Email reminders and scheduling
- Employee benefits enrolment
- Manager approval process for time off requests
- Employee recordkeeping
- Expense management software
Trends in HR Automation
Automation started in HR with straightforward RPA task automation. But as automation technology has progressed and industry knowledge of AI has evolved, human resources automation has a lot of growth potential.
Intelligent automation combines computer learning and decision-making capabilities to simplify complex processes and bring HR staff back to focusing on the people side of the business.
HR automation tools
Depending on which processes you’d like to automate, there’s a wide range of automation software available. But as we mentioned before, the best way to automate is with intention. Select your tools strategically, rather than throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks.
With that in mind, here are some automation tools that might help you:
- Recruitment and hiring tools utilize digital workers’ ability to collect and analyze employee data, including data from new applicants. Digital workers can gather information for decision-making purposes, such as determining salary structures, organizing job applications by how relevant they are to particular job roles, tracking applicants through the interview system to streamline their experience and having the ability to filter through applicants and reject those who don’t fit the job’s purposes.
With IA, you can also improve your hire onboarding cycle by minimizing document-driven processes and reducing the need for manual human intervention — meaning you don’t miss out on the best candidates for the job.
- Payroll and benefits tools help your HR staff quickly and accurately manage payments without human errors. Digital workers can directly assist your employees with benefits calculators, direct deposit tracking, salary receipts, exception payments, paycheck accuracy, eligibility, bonuses, healthcare benefits and compensation. With IA in your payroll management, you’ll end up with timely, accurate payments and satisfied employees every time.
- Employee portal tools can be implemented to give your employees access to a user-friendly platform with helpful information and features about their job and the company. In these portals, employees can easily check or change their benefits, track training and request time off. For HR, your staff can gain real-time access to employee records and forms, while maintaining the highest level of security.
- Talent retention tools come from your digital workers monitoring employee experience and employee performance reviews. They can gather employee feedback on satisfaction levels and predict or suggest solutions to improve morale and keep them engaged, such as empowering them with upskilling opportunities. This builds company loyalty and reduces employee turnover.
- Employee record management tools help you maintain accurate and up-to-date employee records. For example, digital workers perform attendance management, monitor employee leave time and automatically update leave balances, notifying managers when an employee approaches their limit. These tools help alleviate the administrative burden on your HR teams so they can focus on more strategic initiatives such as employee engagement and talent management.
Benefits of HR Automation
Intelligent automation promises a lot of potential across industries and departments, tying together businesses with a unified human and digital workforce. Within the HR department, IA focuses on three goals: enhancing the employee experience, increasing operational efficiency and boosting productivity.
IA helps your teams focus on strategic goals while delegating time-consuming tasks to digital workers, whether it’s multiple processes or one individual task. Digital workers automate your business functions to enable your team to scale your automation while integrating people-centric processes into your existing systems on one platform.
From recruitment and onboarding to employee engagement and career progression, IA has you covered. Digital workers can streamline processes in the employee lifecycle, helping HR professionals with accurate decision-making and ensuring employees meet their goals.
Too many HR businesses are under-utilizing their employees’ full capabilities because they’re too focused on manual tasks, leaving little time for more strategic, people-centric projects. IA helps expand the potential for process optimization, freeing your HR team to help your employees and improve your bottom line.
Productivity is a moving target. Teams should always strive for improvement. And just like your automation journey, there’s always potential for expansion. With IA, HR teams can automate process analysis, allowing IA to make informed decisions in optimizing data-intensive, repetitive and error-prone processes. That’s the quickest way to see ROI from your intelligent automation investment.
Of course, the benefits don’t stop there. With better compliance and cohesiveness across your department, you’ll see your automation in action, scaling over entire processes and achieving total digital transformation across your enterprise.
Find out how SS&C Blue Prism can help your HR automation efforts by visiting our IA & RPA for Human Resources page.