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What Is HR Automation and Which HR Tasks Can You Automate?

Traditional HR departments have one thing in common: They rely on manual processes to perform routine HR tasks, from processing resumes to filling out physical paperwork. Even teams that have begun to digitize their HR processes may use a combination of manual data entry and HR management software to process employee data.

But the growth of low-code automation software means that more manual tasks can be automated than ever before — without any advanced programming knowledge on the part of your team. By pursuing a digital transformation of your HR functions, you can save time and money, reduce human error, and eliminate unwanted data silos.

Here’s how HR automation software can perform repetitive tasks for you, and how to choose the right HR management system for you and your team.

What Is HR Automation?

HR automation refers to the use of software to perform routine or repetitive tasks that don’t require much manual intervention. HR automation tools can reduce or eliminate the need for manual data entry, form-filling, and other time-consuming tasks.

HR process automation is similar to other types of business process automation (BPA), but is specifically focused on HR processes such as payroll processing and employee benefits enrollment. You can integrate your HR automation platform with other tools you’re already using, like an ERP or CRM, to streamline HR workflows.

Automation isn’t about replacing or eliminating the human touch, but about automating tedious tasks so your HR team can be even more effective and intentional in how they support employees. Instead of spending their time scanning documents and updating spreadsheets, they’re free to focus on higher-level HR initiatives.

The time-saving benefits quickly add by bolstering routine activities with an intelligent platform to do the heavy lifting. Plus, when you digitize and automate HR processes, you can store employee data more securely and access it more quickly.

HR Processes That Can Be Automated

Not every human resources information system (HRIS) supports automation, and not every HR process can be easily automated. Processes that change a lot from case to case or that require involvement from HR professionals may call for a more dynamic case management system. But many HR processes are suitable for an automated system. Here are just a common few HR automation examples.

Recruitment and onboarding processes

Hiring decisions can’t be left up to an HR automation system — but many parts of the recruiting process can be. From using an applicant tracking system (ATS) to track and sort resumes, to automating the employee onboarding process, HR automation tools can speed up talent acquisition and get new hires to work faster.

Use onboarding automation software to provide confidentiality agreements and other forms digitally and store them securely once you get them back. Streamline benefits enrollment, background checks, and new user account generation.

HR software can also play a role in new employee engagement by tracking personal training requirements and employee performance metrics.

Employee benefits administration

Employee benefits enrollment takes place during the onboarding process, but benefits administration is an ongoing responsibility for your HR team. From ensuring that your employees have access to adequate health insurance, to managing retirement plans and life insurance benefits, HR automation can streamline the process.

More and more businesses are offering personalized benefits, allowing employees to select wellness add-ons and other incentives. Facilitate benefits administration with a self-service portal that employees can use to access benefits, and set up automatic notifications to keep them updated on benefits eligibility and balances.

Leave of absence requests

Leave of absence management is both a business necessity and a legal requirement. Whether it’s for personal leave, parental leave, military leave, or another type of leave, you can use HR automation to automatically generate documents — including FMLA forms — and track employee leave requests and remaining leave balances.

An automated leave of absence management platform like Pulpstream can help you ensure HR compliance by tracking state and federal leave laws, leave certifications, intermittent hours, and ADA accommodations.

Calculate accrued leave such as paid time off (PTO) automatically, rather than adding them up manually based on employee timesheets.

Audits and safety inspections

Addressing safety concerns is one of your biggest responsibilities as an employer, and using automation to streamline audits and inspections helps you keep your workplace running smoothly. You can do away with pen-and-paper forms and provide inspectors with a cloud-based app for scheduling inspections and generating reports.

Automating the inspection process ensures that the relevant data is centrally recorded and standardized, so you can make better, data-driven decisions. Pulpstream’s mobile app provides offline access even when a team member is working remotely. 

You can also allow employees to submit complaints or report workplace incidents to HR staff anonymously. When you resolve issues efficiently and discretely, it sends the right message to your team and increases employee satisfaction.

Performance management and disciplinary processes

Automating the performance management process can support better decision-making and improve employee retention. By standardizing performance review templates and delivering them on a consistent schedule, you can track performance year-round and provide opportunities for professional advancement.

When things don’t go as planned, follow a transparent disciplinary process to ensure you treat employees fairly and equally. When you normalize the disciplinary process and outline the five steps to employee disciplinary action, it takes some of the stress and emotion out of it for employees and managers alike.

4 Unexpected Benefits of HR Automation

HR automation: colleagues talking to each other

Saving time and money isn't the only advantage when it comes to using HR systems to augment and automate your HR operations. Here are a few more benefits of having a user-friendly digitized process to support human resources management.

1. Better Employee Experience

Employees feel more productive when their needs are looked after. Whether it's having a company facilitate benefits efficiently or being able to hand over signed contracts from their laptop instead of snail mail, these seemingly small things can add up to a better employee experience and reduce the friction when accessing HR services.

HR automation gives employees the sense that the company is moving with the times. Even when offboarding an employee, having an automated process for exit interviews can be beneficial to both the employee and the company brand.

2. Stakeholder Empowerment

While every workplace has a chain of command, being able to take the initiative and solve problems independently empowers your employees and HR team. Automation helps your employees get things done more quickly without having to go to multiple departments or rely on colleagues to get what they need to complete a task.

Some HR automation platforms provide a self-service portal where employees can log in to access information and update their accounts. For more complex cases, chatbots can field questions from employees and route support requests to the right member of your HR team, reducing the time it takes to reach a resolution.

3. Advanced Data Entry 

Some HR automation tools can provide intelligent data analysis that supports business processes and predictions. In addition to reducing human error, simply knowing that the information you're documenting could lead to improved outcomes for the team helps to incentivize data collection and accurate record-keeping.

Pulpstream’s workforce analytics and claims analytics tools help you identify patterns of behavior and spot areas of concern before they become a problem. Whether it’s cutting down on absenteeism or identifying FMLA abuse, automating data collection ensures you gather the information you need to make better decisions. 

4. More Time to Innovate

When you eliminate the redundant, time-consuming tasks that fill an HR professional’s day, it allows more breathing room to get creative about everyday business problems that can lead to better outcomes. Maybe you’ll have more time to create a workflow chart for maximum efficiency or focus on business process improvement.

HR platforms like Pulpstream are fully customizable, so you can be constantly on the lookout for more ways to support your team. Plus, our no-code interface means you don’t have to be a technical expert to try out new approaches or workflows.

Experience Powerful Automation at Any Level

HR manager talking to an employee

HR automation tools use computer software to perform tasks that would otherwise need to be handled by a member of your HR team. HR automation can streamline employee onboarding, leave of absence management, performance management, and more.

HR automation tools don’t replace HR staff members, but empower them to get more done, make fewer mistakes, and make better, data-driven decisions.

Pulpstream’s cloud-based automation platform allows you to streamline HR processes without having to learn any code. Simply digitize any paper documents, integrate your existing tools, and use our drag-and-drop editor to create customer workflows. Set up automatic notifications to let you know when a human needs to step in.

Request a demo today to see Pulpstream’s features up close!