Some of automation’s more positive press has centered around the efficiencies it has provided to various industries, including HR.
Digital solutions, for example, have made tracking employees’ time off easier. Productivity and profitability can be negatively affected if employee attendance is mismanaged; paid absences cost employers between 20.9 and 22.1 percent of total payroll in 2013, according to a Society for Human Resource Management/Kronos survey.
Automation has been used to standardize performance appraisals, which can help ensure consistency; and the payroll process has also benefited from computerized processes. Today, 90 percent of companies offer some type of online self-service payroll functionality, according to a Deloitte survey.
Allowing employees to update their home address, get a copy of a pay statement and perform other functions frees HR professionals up to handle other tasks, instead of having to fulfill those requests manually.
Automation isn’t an automatic fit for all HR elements, however; for example, the recruiting process.
In some instances, recruiting software can help organizations locate, contact and categorize candidates for certain roles.
In others, particularly hiring situations involving top talent, digitized tools may not prove quite as helpful — for the following reasons:
Recruiting software may be better suited to some job levels
For entry-level or similar positions, recruiting solutions can potentially help HR quickly sort through stacks of resumes to identify the best applicants. For senior management and other leadership roles, though, companies often employ highly targeted search methods, such as talent pipelining and passive recruiting, to find candidates. As a result, HR departments tasked with leadership hiring efforts may not be able to take advantage of some of the features recruitment management systems offer, such as automatic job board posting.
If a company’s hiring needs are primarily at that higher level, recruiting software can still help HR track candidates. However, if the department can utilize a database product that already exists within the organization, the added expense of purchasing additional software may not be necessary.
By approaching candidates who are already on the market, you lose your competitive edge
Recruiting solutions can help you cull and sort through information from applicants who have responded to your job posting; however, if they found your listing because they’re looking for a job, you can bet they’re also eyeing, and possibly speaking to, other employers. Focusing on potential candidates who have not yet decided to leave their job (or at least haven’t put much effort into trying to do it) can be a more effective approach to find quality hires — you won’t be facing off against other companies to try to rush to make the first, and most enticing, offer.
You lose the human touch
Some recruitment management systems offer automated responses to let candidates know, for example, their materials have been received. In theory, that should make applicants feel like the company cares about keeping them updated. It can, however, have the opposite effect. A recent CareerBuilder study on technology roadblocks that harm the job candidate experience found more than a third (39 percent) of job seekers feel an automated response isn’t enough; 62 percent expect more personalized communications.
Automation may work in your recruitment process; or it may not — however, even if it’s not the ideal solution for that particular HR undertaking at your organization, chances are, it may prove helpful somewhere else.
For a few thoughts on how to automate processes, read our blog posts on using pulse surveys to gauge employee sentiment, HR app offerings and the top technology and other skills HR leaders will need in the next decade.