Over the past 2 years, the way businesses have been run has changed dramatically. Since the early confusion that accompanied the onset of the pandemic, the business world has settled down, learned that hybrid and work-from-home business models actually do work, and started taking steps to evolve operations. This evolution has been more than simply upgrading technology systems or moving a paper-based process online; it’s been about rethinking what employees spend their time working on and how to improve related core processes and desired results.
Post-COVID, with the economy rebounding and the job market improving, many businesses suddenly find themselves with another situation on their hands: a labor shortage. Workers have learned they don’t have to settle for low-paying, low-opportunity jobs and that they can work remotely for organizations they may not have considered before. In the face of labor shortages, companies are naturally forced to do more with less.
This combination of the shift in employee responsibilities and the search for labor has accelerated the move to enterprise automation. The hiring process itself is an area where companies are already starting to realize the benefits of adopting automation technologies.
HR: A Great Choice
HR is quickly becoming a favorite choice for organizations looking to begin implementing enterprise automation, and it makes sense.
Traditionally, HR information is spread out across various programs and functions, from talent management to recruiting to onboarding to physical security logins to payroll and more. Over the years, as tasks and responsibilities were added to the HR role, new processes and workflows were created to enable HR professionals to handle these tasks. There was little forethought given to whether the tasks should be a part of the HR role or even if they could (or should) be integrated into existing responsibilities and processes. As time went on, the tasks became synonymous with HR and were cemented into separate functions.
Then, as HR professionals moved each from paper-based to computers and then online, there was also little thought given to the ways the work was done—it was just moved from one method to another.
Applying Enterprise Automation
Now, with the dawn of enterprise automation, there is the opportunity to rethink the HR role. A large part of automation is offloading repetitive and mundane tasks, the kinds of actions that add little value but are unfortunately required in order for the HR department (and, let’s face it, the business itself) to operate successfully.
When applied to HR, enterprise automation technologies will help free up some of these repetitive tasks, allowing HR professionals to work on tasks that support the organization’s business goals. In addition, enterprise automation will help streamline workflows by sharing information throughout HR—and other areas of the organization where the data and information can be useful, such as the finance and IT departments.
There are a few key areas that can immediately benefit from enterprise automation, and these are the areas your team should look to automate first:
- Employee onboarding. Automating the employee onboarding process, including the delivery of information and required forms to new employees, will speed time to value from the day they’re hired.
Typically, employees are bombarded with details on access control, account setup, facilities, and training for their actual role. In many smaller organizations, these tasks are rolled out haphazardly or at the scheduling whim of the employees involved in each specific area. Enterprise automation can change that by ensuring new employees get what they need when they need it.
Self-service applications can be created, allowing new employees to be able to access additional information as they need it during the process, saving the HR and other departments additional time.
- People analytics. Applying enterprise automation to people analytics puts employee information in the same location. This often entails setting up processes to automatically take data from a vast range of HR systems and add it into your analytics systems, such as cloud data warehouses like Amazon Redshift or Snowflake.
Automating both workplace updates, such as reviews, promotions, performance notes, salary changes, and access changes, and personal information like addresses, health coverage, benefits, and more ensures people decisions are made with accurate and current information. It can also help protect employees and HR professionals from running afoul of any privacy regulations related to personal information.
- Talent management. Some of the tasks commonly associated with people analytics and talent management include performance management and subsequent actions (reviews, salary changes, training for a new role, etc.). Enterprise automation can take this often mundane, checklist-driven task out of the hands of busy HR professionals, making it a repeatable process.
Vacation and/or leave time is another process that can be automated. Enterprise automation can manually adjust schedules and company information to factor in vacations and maternity or paternity leave. This can save HR, accounting, and finance teams a great deal of manual effort, especially in the manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, and services industries.
As enterprise automation and employee data collection advance within an organization, there are opportunities to set up functions that look for signs of employee dissatisfaction or that measure engagement based on red flags such as lateness, performance reviews, etc. Automating alerts based on these factors can help businesses identify employees who may be looking to leave.
- Offboarding. Information is often lost in the busy, manual process of offboarding employees. With enterprise automation, the process can be solidified so nothing is forgotten. Most think of offboarding as just capturing feedback when employment ends, but it entails many more critical responsibilities, from making sure access is turned off to returning company materials and devices.
Enterprise automation can be applied to capturing and transitioning business relationships, active sales deals, and customer accounts from someone leaving, ensuring business continuity. Asset management, such as devices and equipment, as well as payroll, network logins, and physical company access, can be automatically implemented to ensure your company always meets its safety and compliance obligations.
As mentioned, exit interviews have always been important for organizations because they help capture knowledge about how to improve. In many cases, that knowledge isn’t shared or acted upon, or the interviews are never even conducted. Automating this process can help ensure this information is shared with executives and can also set the stage for future rebound hires.
HR as the Starting Point
While enterprise automation is the future for many companies, it is already being applied today in businesses of all sizes. And HR, with a plethora of repeated, mundane but necessary tasks; data everywhere that requires integration; and overworked and understaffed departments, is a perfect place to get started. As enterprise automation evolves within the HR department, other areas such as employee recruitment, engagement, and retention will become the next areas to be addressed.
When the rest of the organization sees the HR department’s enterprise automation successes, other functional groups, such as finance, sales, and marketing, will be fighting over who gets to be next in line.
As VP of product marketing, Michael Nixon leads outbound product marketing strategy, value development, promotion, and execution for SnapLogic‘s intelligent integration-Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) solution. Before SnapLogic, Nixon was senior director of product marketing and competitive intelligence for Snowflake over a number of years. Originally an electronics design engineer, he holds a Bachelor of Science, Electronic Engineering Technology from the University of Nebraska and an MBA from the University of Dallas, Texas.