8 Reasons to Automate HR Processes

It’s more than 35 years since Microsoft first launched its Excel spreadsheet software. A tool that many HR teams are still using to collate, store and manage their employees’ data.

Whilst a spreadsheet has its uses, HR data management shouldn’t be one of them. Thanks to HR process automation, the days of spreadsheets and manual handling of employee information are numbered.

The emergence of digital services and automated processes is a game-changer for HR – transforming the way that information can be handled.

In this guide:

  • Common pain points with manual HR processes
  • The changing role of people management
  • The 8 key benefits of HR automation

What are the most common ‘pain points’?

A 2021 study by ELMO looked at how today’s HR teams are handling their data. It unveiled some of the most common inefficiencies they face. Nearly half are still using spreadsheets as their primary tool to manage employee data.

A manual HR process creates a number of issues such as:

Juggling endless notifications and calendar reminders for areas including training certification expiry dates and self-certified sickness absence
Manually keeping a log of employee benefits and rewards
No clear calendar view of employee absence and annual leave bookings
Endless paperwork for new starter onboarding processes

Meanwhile, HR process automation:

  • Boosts productivity
  • Improves engagement and enhances the EX
  • Provides greater workforce visibility
  • Helps with compliance
  • Eases general admin work for HR teams

71% of HR leaders said ‘general admin work’ takes up too much of HR’s time, relative to the value it delivers. It stands to reason why a majority of IT managers (surveyed during the pandemic) were looking to transition to a more remote-friendly, cloud-based platform.

The changing role of HR

In addition, the role of HR is changing. Manual processes are unable to keep up with the changing demands on HR teams.

Automation is about more than finding better ways to do existing tasks. It’s also about adapting to the challenges of a rapidly evolving employment world.

A recent ELMO study highlighted the changing focus for HR professionals:

  • 23% of HR professionals said ‘an increase in remote working’ would challenge them over the next 12 months
  • 87% of HR professionals said ‘employee wellness’ was a priority for their organisation over the next 12 months
  • 22% of HR professionals said ‘change management’ was a top challenge over the next 12 months

The biggest barrier to tackling these challenges was found to be the burden of administration:

The 8 key benefits of HR process automation

So what are the practical benefits of automating HR functions? Here’s a look at eight key areas where it can make a major difference:

1. Streamlining the recruitment process

With the UK facing the worst labour shortage for the past 25 years, there’s never been a more important time for effective recruitment.

Recruitment process automation benefits:

  • Reduced time-to-hire
  • Reduced cost-to-hire
  • A seamless candidate experience

2. Transforming the onboarding experience

Creating good initial impressions for new hires is a crucial part of building a better workforce.

Onboarding process automation benefits:

  • A positive candidate / new hire experience
  • Reduced administration, paperwork, and cost for HR
  • Quicker time to productivity for the new hire

Onboarding software helps you easily build great pre-boarding and onboarding experiences that eliminate paperwork through the digitisation of mandatory employee forms while improving the new hire experience from day one. Having an easy to use, centralised onboarding system, organisations can configure the onboarding process and workflows, assign due dates for tasks, documents and courses, send reminder emails, and report on various organisational metrics.

3. Improving employee engagement

The level of engagement within a workforce has a major impact on productivity and retention.

Employees are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work if they feel their voices are being heard.

Employee engagement benefits:

  • Create a feedback culture – employees feel their opinions count
  • Actionable data for HR – insights into workforce sentiment
  • Informed decision-making – based on employee attitudes

Using a survey tool it will enable an organisation to conduct and manage staff surveys throughout all points of the employee lifecycle to gain actionable insights into employees’ attitudes and opinions towards work.

4. Unlocking self-service solutions

Self-service allows employees to remotely access, update and manage their own data in ways not previously possible.

Self-service functions can be used to allow employees to:

  • Manage and update bank details
  • Mange holiday/leave requests
  • View payslips
  • Submit expense claims

Self-service benefits:

  • Reduced admin burden for HR and managers
  • Improves the employee experience
  • Increased productivity and engagement

Self-Service is a secure online portal that empowers employees and managers to update and review personal data relating to annual leave, performance, and more. Using a Self-Service tool reduces the heavy administrative burden by automating core HR tasks.

5. Tracking employee performance

Automation of performance management allows continual assessment and a move away from the limitations of yearly reviews.

  • 14.9% – Organisations with employees who receive feedback report 14.9% lower turnover rates than those with employees who receive no feedback.

Performance management – automation benefits:

  • Tailored performance appraisals
  • Simplified and automated workflows
  • Improved management visibility for team members and managers

Using an automated Performance Management solution improves employee productivity and engagement by facilitating continuous feedback. It can enable employers to align individual and team goals with organisational strategies and streamlines the employee appraisal process by offering a range of pre-built goals and development objectives. It can also enable 360 reviews that assist in the development of a high-performance culture.

6. Enhancing Learning & Development opportunities

An automated approach to learning management (L&D) allows knowledge to be shared and skills upgraded across a hybrid workforce.

Learning management – automation benefits:

  • Streamlines L&D – saving time and costs
  • DIY benefits – upskill at their own time, at their own pace
  • Empowers employee – improves engagement

Choose a solution that aims to build workplace cultures where continuous learning is prioritised and HR’s time is optimised. For example, a Learning Management system (LMS) assists HR teams by serving as a central depository from which all learning initiatives in an organisation can be coordinated, helping both the employee and the employer keep tabs on all learning activities being undertaken. Employers can also offer access to online courses, or they can create, customise and repurpose eLearning courses to meet business objectives.

7. Tightening compliance controls

In today’s tough regulatory environment GDPR and data compliance has become an increasingly important part of people management. Data must be kept and managed to keep up to date with legal responsibilities, states the CIPD.

8. Improving management visibility and insight

Accurate data means more informed decision-making to create fast, agile and proactive HR operations.

Workforce visibility & data insight benefits:

  • A single source of truth for all employee data
  • Improved, real-time reporting capabilities with actionable insights
  • Enables smarter decision making and the ability to identify business problems before they occur
  • Ability to predict future workforce trends

Choose a solution that offers comprehensive reporting tools. Reporting enables HR professionals to gain valuable at-a-glance insights into their workforce, identify risks and measure the effectiveness of their people-related processes. People analytics takes this one step further by using historical data to forecast. For example, it’s now possible to identify employee flight risks – enabling HR to take proactive steps to retain those employees.

What are the key takeaways?

HR process automation is transforming the way HR professionals can operate. By stripping away administrative burdens, it’s empowering organisations, improving engagement and building smarter and more agile workforces.

HR automation enables:

  • Streamlined and consistent HR processes
  • Reduced costs
  • Improved workforce visibility and data insights
  • Enhanced compliance controls
  • Boosted employee experience
  • Strengthening employee engagement


*Survey by ELMO 2021

Learn more about how ELMO can help your organisation.
Learn more about how ELMO can help your organisation.