Automation is a concept that seems to be growing in importance for businesses and industries with each passing year.

The consequences of this trend have been particularly noticeable in the world of work. As KPMG noted in its Rise of the Humans report series, the convergence of artificial intelligence, automation, machine learning and cognitive platforms 'has had a profound impact on the workforce'.

Looking at this trend from an HR perspective, managers will be thinking about how they can realise the benefits of automation without creating any negative consequences for the business and its employees.

With that in mind, here are some of the key areas of HR where automation can prove particularly advantageous:

Hiring

Finding and hiring the people your organisation needs to succeed is one of the HR department's fundamental responsibilities. It can be a time-consuming and challenging task, particularly when you're faced with obstacles like skills shortages and a need to hire staff quickly to meet urgent needs.

Automated tools can make a big difference by taking some of the more onerous parts of the hiring process off your hands, freeing up the human members of the HR team to focus on high-value tasks that require a personal touch.

Modern businesses have a range of tools and technologies to choose from that can help you optimise hiring through automation. Chatbots, for example, can take on a lot of the work involved in early applicant screening and managing large candidate pools.

One system that offers chatbot functionality is  Allyo, an AI-driven recruiting platform that can support various tasks and workflows, including candidate capture, screening, assessment and interview scheduling.

Randstad's video interviewing and digital assessment (VIDA) technology can also help to optimise the selection and screening process, with features like virtual tests and in-depth evaluations to gauge candidate capability.

Reference checking

One specific part of the hiring process that can really benefit from the efficiencies achievable through automation is reference checking. This is a key stage of the recruitment process, where you want to be sure you're being thorough and making the right decisions, without dedicating an unfeasible amount of time to the job.

When this task is done manually, it eats up your team's valuable time, and if you're not able to commit sufficient resources to the process you face the risk of hiring people who aren't right for the role or the company. 

This is a clear example of how automation can benefit a business - by making a key process quicker, more efficient and more reliable. 

Again, there are software solutions entirely dedicated to this aspect of HR. Checkster, for instance, utilises concepts like collective intelligence to enable better talent decisions.

Onboarding

Optimising your onboarding process can deliver a range of benefits for the business and for your workforce.

If you do a good job of bringing new recruits into the business, you can expect to see advantages like:

  • Strong engagement from the start
  • Reduced staff turnover
  • Positive workplace relationships
  • Better performance and productivity

Onboarding is a magic moment when new employees decide to stay engaged or become disengaged. It offers an imprinting window when you can make an impression that stays with new employees for the duration of their careers.

Amy Hirsh Robinson, principal of Interchange Group

Modern hire can support onboarding with dedicated videos and questions for new recruits. The employee can be provided with a link that allows them to answer the questions from anywhere, making remote onboarding much easier.

Incorporating automation into this aspect of your HR function means you don't have to worry so much about the various administrative tasks and paperwork involved, so you can focus on the human element of helping new hires settle in. This puts you in a better position to avoid some of the most common onboarding mistakes.

Specific tools that can support both automated and remote onboarding include Bamboo HR's onboarding software, which provides functions including welcome emails, IT checklists and electronic document signature.

Workforce analytics and scheduling

One of the most common challenges HR managers face today is collecting, managing and analysing large amounts of workforce data.

If you're able to do this effectively, you can gain valuable insights into your human resources, how they're deployed and where you might be able to make changes to deliver improvements.

When you're faced with complicated data sets, however, getting to grips with the information isn't necessarily easy.

'Workforce shaping is a new discipline for HR and one that includes key skill sets that HR is often not well-versed in, such as being evidence-based, using insights and analytics, and seeing organisations as complex systems.' - Robert Bolton, partner in KPMG's Global People and Change Center of Excellence

Platforms like Crunchr show how modern technologies can help you meet workforce data challenges and use predictive analytics to plan more effectively.

Routine tasks

Research by Gartner has shown that 69% of a manager's time is typically taken up by activities that could be handled by technology.

The firm offered the example of expense reports, which could be looked after by expense management systems, and in-the-moment coaching, which could be replaced by real-time chatbot interventions.

There are many other examples of routine tasks that could be automated, such as: