Automation is becoming an increasingly common concept in workplaces across the UK and around the world.
The use of robotics and mechanised processes has been a reality for many years in sectors such as manufacturing but it is now starting to have a broader impact. Businesses in many industries are beginning to experience the cost and efficiency benefits that can be gained from automating key tasks and processes.
What processes are best-suited to automation?
Amid the growing uptake of automation, it’s important for HR departments to remember that some of their main jobs and responsibilities still require the human touch.
So which processes are the ideal candidates for automation – where businesses can be sure of achieving tangible benefits without any negative repercussions for employees or the organisation?
Manual payroll administration can be a time-consuming and laborious task, with a significant risk of human error.
Introducing software to take control of this responsibility allows your HR team members to manage everything – from basic pay, pensions and bonuses to PAYE and national insurance – with just a few clicks.
Accounting and finances
Any business targeting long-term growth and success must aim for high standards in accounting and financial management.
For some tasks, you will need the expertise of a trained accountant or finance manager. However, this is an extremely broad area where some repetitive processes – such as raising regular invoices and keeping track of client payments – are ripe for automation.
Data management and analytics
If your organisation wants to gain a strong understanding of its most valuable asset – its people – then you need a reliable method for gathering, managing and analysing workforce data. This is particularly important for employers with large headcounts.
With the right software and systems in place, you can build up a clear picture of your workforce and the people within it. This puts your company in a stronger position to deliver excellent workforce experiences and strengthen employee engagement, which in turn boosts productivity.
Developments in software and technology mean there is no longer any need for routine administrative tasks to be assigned to a member of staff.
The automation of functions such as tracking leave requests and managing expenses claims can free up your company’s HR professionals to focus on jobs that make better use of their skills.
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Integrating automation into your business
The introduction of automated processes can deliver many benefits for businesses – such as saving time, cutting costs and freeing up HR professionals to focus on tasks that utilise their skills – but they can also herald change in the way the organisation operates.
This could lead to concerns among some staff about their role changing or disappearing altogether.
It’s therefore important for employers to be constantly communicating with their workforce throughout the process, from the earliest stages of evaluating different automated systems to enterprise-wide roll-out.
People who have concerns about changes in their responsibilities should be offered the proper support and professional development opportunities to help them adjust.
It’s also important to identify the right time for new software, systems and automated processes to be introduced. Signs such as an increase in error rates in payroll management or accounting might suggest that you need to take a new approach.
“New opportunities will be created”
If your business is rapidly expanding, the increase in workload could be putting unsustainable pressure on HR teams who would welcome the introduction of new tools and technologies.
In a survey published by Jobsite published by Jobsite earlier in 2017, more than half (54%) of workers said automation will enhance their existing roles, while only 33% had concerns about jobs being at risk. Most respondents felt that advances in this area will help them perform tasks faster (63%) and focus on more meaningful work (55%).
Jobsite CEO Nick Gold said the “age of automation is fast approaching”. He added: “This technology is a powerful tool to create efficiencies but, like other technologies have done before, new opportunities and jobs will be created in its wake.”
There are many reasons for HR teams to feel excited about the growth of automation and the potential benefits this trend could have for their business.
Implemented and managed in the right way, these new tools and systems can help modern-day enterprises to drive efficiency and deliver a richer, more fulfilling professional experience for their staff.
Are you using automation in your HR department to manage your routine admin, leaving employees with more time to focus on other tasks? Tell us your stories in the comments below.