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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Shaking off Manual HR Tasks with Technology

By Jen Stroud, HR evangelist, ServiceNow

If you’ve been in HR for very long, you may have noticed that your typical work week focuses less on meaningful human interactions than you probably expected when you entered the profession. You likely became part of the industry to be involved with developing people and helping your organization thrive, but perhaps time that could be spent on strategic projects is getting swallowed up in high-touch, low-value tasks—responding to routine questions, checking and rechecking email, and the like.

In a day and age in which a pizza can be ordered using a slick iPhone app, you can’t help but wonder why basic HR requests can’t be processed in the same automated fashion.

If you feel this way, you’re not alone. Recent research backs you up, and the numbers are telling. In an HR study conducted by Engage ESM and ServiceNow, respondents said that they focus just 31 percent of their time on strategic activities. That means that more than two-thirds of a typical work week consists of just trying to keep things moving.

The majority of the respondent workweek consisted of using labor intensive methods—drafting detailed emails, updating complex documents and making phone calls—to complete routine assignments like onboarding new employees, processing requests and fielding employee inquiries. 

These high touch, low value assignments use time that could be spent one on one with employees in a far more meaningful way.

More than 90 percent of the HR managers in the study believed that they could make a greater contribution to high-touch and high-value initiatives such as career development if they could break free from these manual administrative tasks.

Many routine processes are complicated and done manually, which provides minimal visibility to those involved. Just think of the administrative steps required to prepare for an employee’s first day in the office. The overwhelmingly manual nature of these steps in most organizations today as well as the possibility for delay and human error increases with each touchpoint needed to complete the on boarding process—from facilities and security to finance and IT. The result is an overwhelmed HR department, a frustrated hiring manager and a puzzled and discouraged new employee.

While most companies have invested heavily in HR technology, there continues to be gaps that lead to challenging outcomes. HR is still far too tactical, and employees lack a modern employee experience—an HR portal that allows them to manage all HR needs. Perhaps because of this, the study also found that a substantial 74 percent of HR departments plan to restructure within the next year. The next 12 months will be a time of progress for HR as more organizations explore how technology and service management can help transform the employee experience and how work gets done and is tracked in HR. Consider these results:
  •      The study found that streamlining technology is a priority for 63 percent of respondents
  •        Eighty-three percent believe that their department could add more value to their organization by employing a higher level of technology
  •        Ninety-one percent said that technology is the key to improving HR responsiveness, which keeps business moving and employees satisfied

What would you do with the time you could save by putting the right technology to work for you? The survey’s respondents unanimously agreed that they could make strategic contributions to their organizations. A well-run HR department is absolutely critical to the success of any organization and HR budgets are increasing year over year, a trend that is expected to continue.

As organizations continue to increase HR budgets and HR budgets continue to make technology a priority, these investments will help HR shed unnecessarily manual tasks and focus on projects that are high value. 

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