The discipline of HR is of course a very personal one. It’s about attracting, retaining and sustaining workforces to get the best from them. There’s a reason why more and more organizations are appointing People Directors rather than HR Directors. Very positively, the focus is more and more on understanding and serving individuals and groups of people, rather than manipulating a block of commercial resources.
So it’s no surprise that HR (or People) leaders have been wary of AI and robots. Putting layers of technology in the way of direct human interaction seems counterintuitive – taking us back to the bad old days of “computer says no.”
That’s why I was heartened to read a recent report by UK HR consultancy AdviserPlus. HR Technology Trends 2019 covers a lot of ground, but right upfront is a clear message: the tide has turned when it comes to automation. The penny has dropped for forward-looking, people-focused businesses: automation tech done right actually helps improve employee experiences and helps the HR team add far more value at an expert level by freeing them from repetitive admin tasks.
“In a survey of HR professionals, we found that 54.7% of people do not see the next wave of technological innovation as a threat to HR roles – and only 28% of people see AI and robotics as a threat.” AdviserPlus research, May 2019
HR professionals are beginning to embrace the possibilities of automation as a workhorse to lighten their load of admin. 68% of the AdviserPlus respondents felt automation could free recruiters to do more advanced work and 66% said it would make them more efficient, productive and innovative.
Even better, HR professionals are seeing evidence that the impact on employee and candidate experiences will be positive, rather than neutral of even negative, as previously feared. Almost two thirds of those surveyed agreed that automation would be positive for candidates.
That goes hand in hand with the self-service trend that AdviserPlus also identifies in the report. As well as saving 30-50% of an HR professional’s time, self-service HR systems “should allow employees to enjoy the same access and control they enjoy with their life admin in a work context… with HR technology mirroring the easy-to-use programs that are widely used outside of work.”
Automation is a key enabler of self-service, making it possible to approve, record or answer routine requests (booking leave, selecting benefits, changing personal details or querying allowances) immediately, without human intervention or delay. Using RPA, more complex processes can also be streamlined and speeded up to improve employee and candidate experience, such as resolving commission disputes or pre-employment checks and screening.
In your HR function, which processes could automation or RPA transform for the better? Do you need to review and optimize your HRM system and processes? We can help set you on the path to greater productivity and employee satisfaction – get in touch to talk it over.