HR teams oversee responsibilities that are mission-critical at their organizations. Tasks like payroll, recruitment, training, employee experience management, and more are the foundations of every successful business.

This is exactly why it’s so alarming that HR teams are struggling to keep up with their jobs. According to a recent study, 98% of HR professionals have experienced burnout in the past year, and 78% are open to leaving their jobs as a result. It’s not very surprising; after all, HR teams are suffering a labor shortage just like every department, and they’ve had a tough few years caring for their workforce through the pandemic and the economic uncertainties that have followed.

Automation is often touted as the miracle cure for every business ill, so many HR leaders are turning to it. Nearly two-thirds of respondents to one survey indicated that AI has greatly improved their HR team efficiency.

While automation can definitely save time, money, and frustration, it’s not always appropriate for every situation. There are some tasks that need human input, and in certain situations, automation can cause more troubles than it solves.

How can leaders know which HR tasks are suitable for automation, and which ones should remain manual? Below we’ll share six parameters to bear in mind during your considerations.

  1. Repetitiveness

HR tasks that are repetitive, rule-based, and monotonous should be at the top of the list for automation.

Recruitment screening is a perfect example. Today, AI automation tech can handle the grunt work of screening candidates, carrying out background checks, crunching pipeline data and filtering the first flood of resumes by keywords. This gives your employees more time to conduct in-depth interviews for more advanced candidates.

“When you don’t automate these tasks, your HR staff is wasting time,” says WRK’s Kalli Ringelberg. “A bot or RPA can easily do these first-step processes in the recruitment process. This speeds up the filtering process and frees up the time of your hiring managers and people on your talent acquisition team.”

  1. Complexity

On the other hand, complex situations that demand careful judgment and emotional intelligence should not be automated. For example, employee evaluations need to be conducted by HR professionals and/or departmental managers.

You can still automate some steps, like gathering feedback and requesting engagement surveys. Now that performance management is dynamic and constant rather than a once-a-year event, it’s particularly necessary to save time where you can.

But it’s simply impossible to automate the human touch in employee development and leadership, so rely on humans to conduct evaluation interviews, deliver feedback and suggestions, and act upon the data.

  1.  Accuracy and consistency

Payroll and compensation calculations, entering overtime and deductions, tax reporting, and many other HR tasks involve a great deal of tedious data entry, together with a high degree of accuracy. Even small errors can be very costly, undermining morale among employees and potentially leading to fines for mistakes in reporting.

“Traditional payroll solutions often rely on these manual processes, which are not only time-consuming but also prone to such errors: spreadsheets, infinite email chains and reliance on third parties who do not understand your business, are a recipe for disaster,” warns Pento COO Sabrina Castilgione.

Nowadays, Castilgione continues, it’s easy enough to “automate workflows, streamlining and simplifying payroll operations, gathering the most up to date information from the right sources without even having to click a button to send an email.”

  1. Empathy

However, other HR responsibilities require empathy and sensitivity that an AI bot or automated process cannot deliver.

These include conflict resolution and support for workers struggling with burnout, mental health issues, or personal difficulties.

As HR leaders seek to streamline processes through automation, it’s important not to go too far. Efficiency needs to be balanced against human interactions and support, so that employees continue to feel that HR has a beating heart that cares about their wellbeing.

  1.  Data-driven decision making

Automation can deliver massive benefits for strategic HR decision-making. Advanced analytics use AI automation to crunch data and deliver insights that assist HR teams to forecast future workforce needs, plan upskilling and employee training programs, and analyze existing practices

“HR software analytics is critical because it helps to study patterns, understand trends, and improve decision-making quality. It provides actionable insights that you can use to plan your next moves,” says Paras Kela of ControlHippo.

Data-based decision making delivers much better conclusions than just trusting your gut and hoping for the best, and automated HR analytics can help a great deal in this context.

  1. Customization

The best tasks to automate are those that recur frequently without any significant variations. For example, standard onboarding and offboarding procedures can be automated, and chatbots can answer new hires’ basic questions.

But situations that require customized solutions and unique responses aren’t a good match for automation. You’ll still need human mentors or managers on hand to answer more complicated questions, as well as to provide warmth in welcoming new employees or saying farewell to those who are leaving.

“The value of a human touch from HR should not be underestimated,” writes Phoebe Armstrong of the Australian HR Institute. “A recent report from ADP Research Institute found that a single touchpoint with HR made employees twice as likely to value their company and five times as likely to recommend it as a place to work.”

Automation can be a useful tool for HR teams

Automation can bring many advantages for HR teams. It can relieve them of tedious manual effort, reduce errors, and generally free up time for other tasks. But certain responsibilities can’t and shouldn’t be automated. There’ll always be a need for human warmth, empathy, and judgment in HR. Used right, automation can make HR teams more efficient without compromising their ability to deliver support.

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