Are you considering embracing more automation in your HR department this year? Automation can make a huge difference in the day-to-day operations of a company and can impact its bottom line in a large way. By automating more of your activity, you free up your HR team to do what it does best: caring for your employees and keeping your business running smoothly.
HR automation can do more than you can imagine! Automation can help you post job ads and track interest and responses; promote openings to very specific, niche groups of people; measure how well job applicants’ skill sets line up with what you’re looking for; and evaluate how well interviews go. It can also help with onboarding, distributing important employee information, and measuring employee satisfaction. And it can do all of those things without the need for you and your HR team to constantly check in and monitor every step of the process.
Automation can sometimes scare people. The tech! The regulations! The errors! Everyone remembers when an automation error led to two major aircraft disasters for Boeing a few years ago and when a bug in the Google Cloud Platform’s automation software crashed Shopify in 2019. It can feel like an overwhelming pool to dip your toes into. While there are certainly best practices to keep in mind when dealing with automation, especially in an HR setting, it’s nothing to be afraid of or avoid. In fact, by neglecting to focus on automation, you may be missing a golden opportunity to free up some of your time and resources.
With that being said, there are things that can go wrong when it comes to automated HR. As all HR professionals know, the field is a specialized industry in and of itself, and if it loses the human element, you’ll run into problems pretty quickly. Here are four common mistakes of HR automation and how to avoid them.
Forgetting to Update Your Tech
Technology can be the spookiest part of automation for HR professionals. The easiest way to avoid technology errors? Keep your tech updated. That means those obnoxious It’s time to update this app notifications shouldn’t be ignored. Updates to technology frequently fix bugs, and once updates have been out for a while, older versions are less likely to work. It may seem dry, but it’s an extremely important thing to stay on top of. Whether it’s your IT department’s responsibility or yours, make sure someone is in charge of ensuring all technology used by your company is up to date. It also might be worth your time to utilize resources put out by the applications you’re using; if they offer how-to webinars or instructional YouTube videos, take some time to check out that content and make sure you’re using the technology properly. Moreover, the more you rely on technology, the more you’re going to need to increase your tech budget—you don’t want to be running complicated software on machines that are basically dinosaurs. To solve the problem: Keep your technology updated, and don’t slack when it comes to your tech standards.
Over-Relying on Data
In HR, it’s possible to drop the human aspect and become overly dependent on data. Don’t forget that machines make mistakes and that as smart as computers get, they still aren’t humans. They don’t see the nuances and details that you do that enable you to make the best-possible decisions for your employees. If an algorithm is telling you a particular job candidate would be the best for a role but you had a sinking feeling when speaking to the person, don’t ignore your gut! There are also things that are incredibly difficult to measure, like the way employees fit in with your company culture, the ways they are able to bring diversity to your business, or specific remote work needs they may have. Relying too heavily on the data can lead you down a bad path. To solve the problem: Remember that HR is an industry that revolves around humans, and monitor your automation processes to ensure the machines don’t interfere with the human element.
Not Being Open to New Technologies
If you’ve been using a particular technology for ages, it can be daunting to consider a switch. But remember that new programs and platforms are being invented and updated constantly. Don’t be afraid to try something new when it comes to your automation tech stack. Stay on top of current automation trends, and sign up for some free trials. Even if there’s one automation tool you love, you may want to investigate a few others that can fill in blind spots and help you avoid having to work around the things your current software can’t do. Consider starting a small group of employees off with an automation program before splurging on the application for your entire team so you can see how useable it is. Your IT team should be able to help with research and implementation. To solve the problem: Spend some time researching the newest automation technology, and brainstorm holes in your workflows that could be filled with automation.
Settling for Inefficient Processes
Fourth, remember that automation is supposed to make your life easier. If you’re utilizing a technology that’s stressing you out, you feel like you’re constantly updating your data manually, or your processes that used to only take a minute have become clunky and convoluted, take a step back to evaluate how much automation is actually helping you. Instead of trying to automate processes that aren’t working, improve your processes before investigating how you can automate them. Changing your workflows sometimes needs to happen before you invest time and money into automation software. To solve the problem: Adjust your workflows and streamline your systems before implementing automation, and once you’ve started automating things, evaluate frequently to see how automation is helping or hurting your business operations.
Claire Swinarski is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.