Editor's note: The following is a contributed piece by Paul Burrin, vice president at Sage People, an HR management software provider.
People drive success for companies and their customers — even in today's technology-driven world. Meanwhile, employees across industries increasingly demand more than a paycheck from their employers — especially as millennials enter executive suites and Generation Z start their careers to cement a truly multigenerational workplace. With low unemployment and the war for talent giving people choice, organizations are having to work harder to attract the best talent.
To respond to this changing workforce, companies are beginning to pivot away from traditional, transactional human resources toward introducing new people-oriented processes and data-driven decision-making. Today's employees want workforce experiences that are engaging and supportive — enabling them to do their best work at every career level. This means that progressive and fast-growth companies are focused on people programs, and not administration. They are automating traditional HR transactional processes to free up time to concentrate on their employees as people. In fact, I would argue that adopting automated technologies is an important next step for companies to free up HR teams so they can focus on what best benefits businesses: ensuring employee success.
Understanding automation's HR utility
Automation's administrative utility enables human counterparts in HR to centralize their efforts around developing their organizations into truly people-focused companies. HR managers can spend more time building diverse teams of people, developing career growth opportunities for staff based on their individual goals and skill sets, and solving complex personnel issues within companies that can impact core business functions. Automating administrative tasks also frees up HR managers to be more creative and hands-on with their employees — enabling them to spend time connecting with people across a company in meaningful, and productive, ways.
Meanwhile, HR managers can use artificial intelligence (AI) and other automated platforms to fastrack recruiting and personnel-related administrative processes. People working with these automated resources can task them sifting out resumes, or surfacing certain types of candidate profiles.
While automated technology does admin tasks, HR managers can be free to do more substantive work. They can play a larger role in strategic company decisions and work closely with staff managers across departments to monitor company morale and individual performances. HR managers can meet with employees on a 1-to-1 basis more regularly — and inform those conversation with insights from automated data reports rather than relying on gut instinct.
Enlisting automation to redefine recruitment and diversity
Automating HR and its tasks also allows a company to truly focus on people during the hiring process. Industries and sectors across the global economy have already started to see change brought on by automating HR tasks, including using AI-driven platforms to scan resumes for open positions and eliminate human biases that can impede a company's progress toward a more diverse workplace. Automated technologies can neutralize human biases that often arise — unintentionally in many cases — in interviews, job candidate decisions and promotion scenarios. They offer HR managers and recruiters a resource that can save a remarkable amount of time and, more importantly, take human bias completely out of the hiring equation.
That said, it is important for HR leaders to understand that automation is a human creation featuring different technologies, like AI, that learn from data that humans generate over time. They can tap automation to drown out human biases — conscious or unconscious that impact hiring practices and company diversity. Further, organizations that turn to tech-driven systems for talent management purposes should task people with monitoring their performance, keeping them accountable and maintaining visibility into actual diversity results. After all, automation is an enhancement, not a substitution for managing and engaging your workforce. Further, it is still extremely important that HR retains and prioritizes human judgment and contact.
Keeping the human in human resources
The global marketplace is rapidly moving to embrace digital norms and new employee demands. Consequently, it is increasingly important for businesses to bridge the gap between the analog world of business operations and the new, more digital way of doing things. After all, employers simply cannot meet the needs and demands of all employees if people responsible for staff professional development and employee retention are bogged down by administrative work.
Amid the hype and mixed messages surrounding automation and the number of jobs, it's important to remember that while automation will replace job functions across industries, it will also create new career opportunities for human counterparts. Executives, employees and job candidates will all need to develop evolved workplace skills that center around creativity, empathy, judgment and emotional intelligence — more human elements that apply to successful HR and recruiting as well. Ultimately, retraining and retooling HR managers for a tech-driven future, as well as combining automated HR administrative tasks with traditional HR best practices will set companies up for success — and allow them to focus on people.