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The 5 Step Strategy for Optimizing HR with Intelligent Automation

Artificial intelligence has made our lives infinitely easier. Smart home devices can turn lights on and off and adjust the thermostat without us having to get off the couch. Cars automatically hit the brakes to avoid crashes and are capable of parking themselves. But intelligent automation isn’t just something that can benefit our personal lives. The ability to automate time-laden, manual tasks and business processes increases employee productivity and frees skilled personnel to focus on more high-value work. One area that can gain tremendous value from intelligent automation is HR. Here’s how.

Identify processes and workflows that could (and should) be automated.

While human resources is, indeed, a prime candidate for intelligent automation, not every process will be appropriate. It’s imperative that business leaders are careful not to try and automate too much, otherwise they risk losing momentum and failing to reap the true benefits of AI technology. This is why the first step in optimizing HR should always involve a careful analysis of processes and workflows to determine which could be made more efficient through intelligent automation.

Map out a strategy.

Again, in order for intelligent automation to be effective, there must be order to its adoption. Prior to implementation, a plan should be mapped out – preferably one that involves a strategic combination of artificial intelligence and human skills. Create a roadmap that covers everything from the initial introduction of AI to the desired end result. Bear in mind that some processes may be better redesigned from scratch as opposed to trying to modify them.

Keep the lines of communication open and ever-flowing.

Like it or not, people naturally fear change. With intelligent automation, this is compounded by the concern over robots taking over human jobs. Yet, in order to successfully roll out automation, you simply must have buy-in from everyone involved. The best way to accomplish this is to quell your staff’s fear through open, honest and ongoing communication. Be sure to drive home the benefits that automation will provide to them (less drudgery, more opportunity to perform engaging, meaningful work, the chance to learn new marketable skills, etc.). Remind them that automation ultimately drives the demand for soft skills, such as creative problem solving and collaboration.

Make sure the C-suite is also onboard.

In addition to constant communication and transparency with employees, it’s equally critical that executives and key decision-makers are also onboard with intelligent automation. Sure, a detailed and measurable implementation strategy is essential, but enacting organizational change takes more than simply carrying out a set of ordered steps. Change management starts at the top and trickles downward. As such, senior leadership must be visible and vocal in its participation and support.

Teach employees the skills they need for success.

We’ve become quite comfortable with automation in our personal lives, but that comfort level doesn’t necessarily translate to the workplace. Don’t just assume your employees possess the skills they need to leverage intelligent automation. For instance, your HR team likely already has the soft skills they need to do their jobs effectively, but they may need guidance in understanding how to interact with automation technology. Be proactive in educating them.

While there are certainly areas of the human resources function that a human touch is still needed, such as discussing sensitive matters with employees, the vast majority of today’s HR processes can easily be automated. In order to do this, however, HR professionals must be willing to adapt and evolve. The five steps listed above should help in this regard.

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Streamlining HR with Intelligent Automation

Streamlining HR with Intelligent AutomationHuman Resources is a critical function of any organization, particularly those at the enterprise level. Because HR is connected with every other department, when HR processes are running smoothly, the entire business benefits. Conversely, when those processes break down, the whole company can be impacted. Due to the broad reach and extensive list of responsibilities, enhancing HR processes through intelligent automation can dramatically improve productivity and efficiency across the organization.

A glaring need for intelligent automation

According to ServiceNow’s report, Today’s State of Work: At the Breaking Point, Human Resources was listed as the least efficient department. In fact, the study revealed that those in HR are wasting two full days, or 16 hours per week performing manual administrative tasks.

For instance, activities like overseeing employee relocations, managing leaves of absence and onboarding new employees are all among the most inefficient processes of HR.

Without question, HR teams want to deliver exceptional service, but find themselves far too often burdened with repetitive tasks and workflows. Unstructured work processes and HR functions that are heavily manual lead to unnecessary complexity and a steady drain on productivity.

Intelligent automation presents a golden opportunity

A recent survey by Career Builder revealed that 72 percent of employers expect some roles within HR will become completely automated over the next 10 years. Yet, according to the ServiceNow report, automation is only being leveraged in 37 percent of HR services.

Using intelligent automation to reduce complexity enables HR professionals to focus less of their time, energy and expertise on manual recruitment activities and more on innovating and improving business practices.

Introducing intelligent automation in 5 easy steps…

Step 1: Identify processes and workflows that should be automated.

We’ve already mentioned that HR is a department ripe with opportunity to automate, particularly given its many manual, repetitive and transactional processes. The first step in getting started is to identify these tasks and list them out in order of priority. For best results, look for “quick wins” – that is, the processes and workflows that, when automated, will produce the fastest and most measurable return on investment.

Step 2: Create a blueprint.

The next step should involve mapping out these critical business functions from start to desired end-state, including a combination of both artificial intelligence and human skills. Investigate further whether the existing processes you have in place could be augmented by intelligent automation to deliver the desired result. During this process, you may discover that it’s easier to redesign some workflows from scratch rather than to modify them.

Step 3: Get executive buy-in.

Organizational change, such as what’s involved with deployment of intelligent automation in HR, requires more than just simply executing a series of implementation activities. To truly gain traction and roll out successfully, adoption must start at the top and trickle its way down. As such, those in senior leadership must be visible, both in their support and their participation. This will empower employees and encourage them to suggest how intelligent automation can further benefit the business.

Step 4: Communicate openly and regularly.

Remember that through automation, you’ll inevitably be impacting the day-to-day work of your employees. To prevent resistance and overcome fear, be proactive about communicating with the HR department. Address their concerns, answer their questions and provide them with reassurance that the changes being introduced will ultimately benefit them. Not only will they save time, but they will also be freed up to focus on more creative, strategic and fulfilling projects.

Step 5: Retrain and reskill.

As intelligent automation is introduced, the role and day-to-day functions of human employees will inevitably evolve. Don’t just expect your employees to possess the innate skillsets needed for leveraging automated tools. For instance, your HR team may have the soft skills needed to be successful, but they may still need help understanding how to interact with automation technology. Invest in retraining and reskilling them accordingly so they are armed with the info they need to evolve alongside the changing technology.

Highly automated companies are six times more likely to experience revenue growth of more than 15% versus companies with low automation. Human Resources is an excellent place to start. Want to experience intelligent automation for yourself? The wait is over. Take Ayehu for a test drive today!

EBOOK: HOW TO MEASURE IT PROCESS AUTOMATION RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)