Article: The magic of automation in HR


The magic of automation in HR

How we don't even realize where we are spending man-hours that technology could reduce.
The magic of automation in HR

A stereotype that many of us have to deal with when working in the field of Human Resources is around how we are only responsible for compliance and paper-work. The other day, I heard one colleague joking with another that she would find out the latter’s birth-date and the his’s response was, 'Now you’re actually behaving like you’re HR!' This and many other incidents get me thinking around how we can change this stereotype, which - albeit with some truth - is not the only thing that Human Resources today could be known for. 

A first is of course to realize that although we may be many other things, one of the most crucial things that we do for any organization is maintaining its history - and how. We collect every single story that anyone who has been in the organization at any point in time would have to say - for themselves and for the time that they were with the organization. The general perception tends to be that housing all of this information leads to policing of the people whose information this is, whereas what it could be is that housing all of this information gives us the strength to protect our people, to tell their story and that of the organization with a power that is incomparable. It is also based in evidence that can never be challenged.

But with this great power comes great responsibility – the telling of the story. How do we arrange all of this information in such a way that it could actually depict the story that we want to tell - of the hours that our people have toiled to reach where we are today? 

Of course there was a time when all of this had to be done through paper work. Signatures had to be taken, verifications had to be made on paper. Authentication of the story had to be made and due to our dependency on paper and comparatively less understanding of how we could automate all of this, processes were time consuming. Today we have various enterprise content management software that can help us do this, along with customer relationship management cloud software that can be used to HR’s advantage. 

Given that the world has changed drastically since we began housing all this data, it might be beneficial to stop and wonder how we could do this far more effectively and what other plans or processes we can drastically improve with Strategic HRM being at the forefront today. 

Here are three things that you might want to do before every project or at a team meeting about your processes so that you can be confident that you are actually spending the necessary amount of time on the process/ collecting data versus spending inadequate amounts of time ensuring your process is smooth and your data is correct:

  • Do a time study. Go back to the project last year and see how much time you spend on each part of the project. If it is an ongoing process, for example joining formalities, measure the time taken as and when you’re doing it to get a more accurate understanding of the time spent. While this might sound extremely simple and novice, you will be surprised by how much time you have spent doing certain things that a computer could have done for you. Share this analysis with someone who has been a part of your project but has not played your role in it. Getting their perspective on things will be hugely beneficial, because we might be blinded by how proficient we think the current system of work might be. 

  • Speak to your Technology team/partner. Something else that blinds us is our lack of understanding of how much is possible through technology today. While some may consider this ignorance, I would say that’s being too harsh on yourself. Some organizations have even realized the importance of having a technology partner on their HR Team – that’s the potential of Technology in Human Resources! Running this by someone who knows the purpose of what you’re trying to achieve and the magic that technology can create could be a huge value add to what you’re doing. 

Talk to your team to understand if you do actually require a technology team member. Think through whether this really could call for an individual’s workload on you team. If not, partner with the Technology vertical to budget for time and how they could help you brainstorm and implement.

This is not to say that we are just trying to free up our time. Depth, success and continuous learning in this area will allow you to check off one box from the Ulrich model – the administrative expert. Doing this is will then make it easier for you to focus on the higher end of the ‘processes’ continuum, allowing you to be that expert strategic partner. Hopefully then when you say ‘I’ll go back to check on your birthdate,’ to a colleague, they will be left wondering which one of your magical stories they are going to star in! 

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Topics: Technology, HR Analytics

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