How is automation changing the HR industry?

By cielhrtech | September 27, 2016

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The last 10 years have paved the way for many discoveries in the tech world that every other sector has been trying its best to leverage on these new tools to find higher impact, up the productivity, transform the work processes. Some of these attempts have led to confusion and disruption while some of these have left their impacts deep.
In the HR industry, there are certain work processes which are repetitive and hence, should be scalable, cost-optimal and rigorous. Examples of such instances are in the area of recruitment; secondly, HR operations such as maintaining HR records, addressing employee queries, administering employee compensation and benefits; thirdly, performance management and training employees on skills and knowledge. It is obvious that each of these building blocks of HR call for a strategic direction and then, flawless execution. Automation enables the piece on execution and assists in strategy-making.
As automation picks up, the shape of the HR department in an organization will change. In our previous article, we highlighted that new roles will emerge, traditional roles will slowly change and the number of people involved in accomplishing a task will change.
Let’s look at the changes first!
Mobile, cloud, social, analytics and IoT are some of the biggest innovations in the recent times. Industry has been adapting these into their day-to-day lives. In the HR industry, some of the early impacts of automation that we see are: searching matching talent, attracting potential candidates from various talent pools available to HR people, the size, shape and behaviour of the talent, gathering and answering employee queries, observing employee performance and rewarding them, setting goals, communicating with employees, training and developing them. This is a long list, the fact is , at least one of the 5 innovations have impacted these work processes.
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HR Department is changing!
HR folks need to have new skills to be able to carry out their respective jobs in this new manner! For example, one organizes a self-service portal for all employees and interacts with them online, tracks cycle time of resolving a query, analyses the kind of queries and proactively communicates on the queries which spring up frequently and reduces number of queries. One more such skill is in the area of training: HR team now provides a score of instructional videos which are easily available to employees to refer during work rather than sending them to a day or two of training. These days, HR team creates a collaborative platform for employees to share information, seek assistance and share happiness; co-create policies rather than promulgating a policy top-down!
There have been  tectonic shifts in the way recruiting is being carried out. The tools have changed. Newspaper advertising and classified adverts have largely shifted online; in many cases, they are now highly targeted. The process of employee referral has undergone a sea change; it’s a lot online now and gamified. Interviews and other forms of assessment are now replaced by online tests, video assessments and blocking calendars online. Again, the process of background verification, reference checks have transformed significantly. Recruitment processes get outsourced because there are experts who can run these efficiently and at a speed that matches the need of the organization. The organization can focus on its core business while the operational aspects of HR can be done by well-oiled machinery that does this for its living.
Hence, an organization needs to not only change the skills of its HR team but also determine what levels of competency that the HR team should have.
Expertise rules the roost!
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Given the fact that an organization increasingly focuses on its strategic aspects, its team in-house needs to understand the business, the challenges, the market and its own values to enunciate its policies at a high level. These people need to bring with them depth of experience and a wealth of insight.
Operationalizing the ideas and policies  forms the bedrock of execution. While overseeing the execution is critical for the organization, day-to-day actions are best done by the respective experts. Someone needs to carry out the processes and analyse the results for the top managers of the company to tell them what’s working well for them and what is not. Such HR analytics can guide them to make necessary course-corrections. For example, if hiring a particular role takes long and one has to hire quite a few hires in a year for the role, it is important to know the impact and hence, make a course-correction. Similarly, experts can bring in the knowledge of invaluable benchmarks.
Automation has not only changed the scene with the arrival of new tools but has called for new skill-sets of the team and new ways of doing work. Ultimately, the team needs to match the speed and demands of the business in attracting, retaining and engaging the best talent from the market.

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