Automating Success: How HR Can Leverage Automation to Take on a Strategic Role

October 1, 2019 | Antique Nguyen

Automation has been present for decades in industries like manufacturing, but it’s spreading rapidly to other areas. The ability to automate administrative tasks offers huge potential in the HR space, and many practices are taking advantage of it. Not only must HR keep up with the pace of change in other industries, but automation also supports HR as a strategic player. Outsourcing simpler tasks frees up time for your human capital to spend on achieving larger goals.

“It is critical for HR to treat automation as a strategic initiative,” says Tina Schust Robinson, CEO and coach at WorkJoy. “HR has the chance to leverage automation to envision a desired ‘people solutions’ future state that supports and drives business objectives.”

Here are three ways to leverage automation at your HR practice.

Determine the Best Fit for You

Before investing in HR automation, diagnose where your biggest needs are. “Failure to assess what your needs actually are and where automation can be utilized can send you down a confusing spiral of potential solutions,” says Caroline Stokes, founder of Forward Executive Search & Executive Coaching and author of “Elephants Before Unicorns.”

Automating HR tasks has huge potential, but it’s important to understand where your priorities lie in your practice before deciding what to automate. Knowing where to utilize automation to its best advantage is a critical step in successfully automating your HR practice.

Support Your Human Capital

HR automation — much like HR itself — plays a crucial role in supporting people. Once you’ve determined what your priorities are as a practice, it’s important to decide how automating HR tasks will support your human capital. This involves determining which processes play the most important role in your organization’s overall strategy, and determining which can be “no touch” from human employees.

“Using a ‘touch’ process assessment helps you to take advantage of automation effectively and efficiently, giving you the freedom to strategically allocate HR’s own human resources,” Robinson says. “Your ROI will be measurable in time and money saved, and will strengthen HR’s business partner prowess.”

Free Up Your Human Capital — and Let Curiosity Take Over

As you automate your “no touch” processes, your HR practice will have more human capital to allocate toward achieving strategic goals. If you’ve automated recruiting, for example, you now have recruiters who are free to act in more invested ways. “Assuming those individuals have a growth mindset and explore their curiosity to learn something new, there will be new opportunities,” Stokes says.

Remember the diagnostic you used to determine the best use of automation? Revisit it to decide where you want to place this newly open human capital. “Doing a self-diagnostic will enable you to understand what you are doing well and what needs to be worked on, which will help clarify your priorities,” Stokes says. Since you’ve outsourced some of the more plodding tasks, your employees will have the chance to exercise their curiosity and creativity in solving bigger-picture problems.

Leveraging automation can help you to determine your five-year plan, and to make it a reality. It can be difficult to let go and outsource tasks to a machine, but doing so can help you to harness your human capital like never before.

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