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Your human resources department (HR) is more than ready for an automation overhaul.

HR professionals are overwhelmed with paperwork. Much of it is rife with red tape because of compliance mandates regarding employment law and all the personally identifiable information (PII) that is routinely collected and stored. Everything has to be signed, dated, completed, and securely filed. Errors such as misspelled names, wrong birth dates, or social security numbers can have serious financial and professional repercussions for employees and companies.

Small a wonder that HR departments are accelerating the adoption of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions, particularly intelligent automation, which is RPA embedded with artificial intelligence (AI). According to the results of the 2019-2020 Sierra-Cedar HR Systems Survey, RPA use in HR rose 50% over the previous year.

The report points to the fact that the technology is getting easier to use. It also notes that companies are—finally—waking up to the idea that they need to free HR professionals from tedious manual tasks both to reduce errors and avoid high turnover.

A recent survey by Deloitte found that 60% of HR departments were using AI-boosted automation tools to assist workers. Gartner agrees that by 2021, one in four employees will have a virtual assistant. And most organizations believe that the number of HR jobs will stay the same or increase as a result of intelligent automation, according to Deloitte.

Here are six HR processes that are ready to be automated today, for fast and valuable results with high ROI.

#1 Screening resumes and shortlisting candidates

This activity takes up a great deal of HR professionals’ time. You can easily create intelligent software robots (“bots”) to process the data contained on resumes and CVs and align it with a list of job requirements such as type of degree, office skills, or technical know-how. You can create rules for these bots to follow that would include sending request-for-interview emails to candidates (the ones that match the criteria), as well as emails informing other candidates that you’re moving forward with other applicants. You can also program bots to store an applicant’s credentials and skills in your recruiting database so that they are searchable should another job open up with different requirements.

#2 Onboarding new hires

Onboarding new employees is perhaps the most tedious—and complex—process that falls to HR professionals. Multiple people and departments are involved—the hiring manager, IT, and security, among others—and data has to be input into and retrieved from multiple systems to generate the proper documents and permissions.

With an automated workflow using RPA, bots follow rules and send the right documents in the right order. They retrieve data and permissions as needed from the appropriate systems. They can also automatically notify specific people within the organization who have to approve or sign off on particular documents. Errors are eliminated, as the process cannot proceed unless requirements are adequately fulfilled. If the process gets stalled, an automatic notification goes out to stakeholders, so no candidates get stranded in limbo. All this makes onboarding swift and painless.

#3 Completing induction and training

Once a job offer is accepted by a candidate, the new hires need digital credentials as soon as possible. This includes an email alias, access rights to appropriate systems and data, inclusion in business processes, and anything else that is required so they are in compliance with security regulations and best practices. All this needs to come hand-in-hand with proper training. Intelligent RPA can do all of this automatically, with bots going in and out of various systems to tick the proper boxes and assign permissions based on job templates that you create.

#4 Handling employee data

Managing employee data is perhaps the most time-consuming and error-prone job that falls to HR professionals. Data silos—each containing a different type or format of data—resulting in HR workers having to navigate multiple systems, including but not limited to benefits, payroll, and compliance. Moreover, data is constantly changing as new employees are hired and others depart, and as others may change their addresses or marital status. By assigning a bot to take care of updating all systems consistently, you take the risk of errors out of the equation and ease the burden of constantly keying and rekeying data off the shoulders of your staff.

#5 Processing payroll

As you know, processing payroll is one of the most critical functions in a company. But doing it manually is fraught with risk of errors, and nothing will upset employees more than their paychecks not adding up. Calculating commissions and overtime can be complicated.

Additionally, tax laws differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and with more employees and contractors working remotely—sometimes from different states or even countries—tracking and reporting on compliance with them and with local workplace regulations is difficult. Intelligent RPA makes this easy by acting as a “connector” between legacy systems such as employee management, time-tracking, payroll, and general ledger.

You can program bots to confirm employee hours entered into the appropriate system and flag discrepancies with other sources of data. Bots can also aggregate and analyze data from different systems and send reports to the appropriate people if, say, one department is logging more overtime hours, or if absenteeism is on the rise in a particular part of the company. Since everything is documented, compliance is a given, and errors are a thing of the past.

#6 Managing employee exits

Welcoming a new hire to the company requires a fair amount of paperwork and processes. The same is true when saying goodbye to an employee. Exit documents need to be generated and signed, email and system access needs to be revoked, and final payroll needs to be issued based on agreed-upon terms of the departure.

With RPA, you can choreograph the entire workflow using assisted bots, which automate all aspects of the process and route approvals and checkpoints through to human workers as appropriate. All of this has to be completed with a high degree of rigorousness because of regulatory issues. This is the sort of thing that RPA excels at. With an intelligent bot checking that all exit requirements have been fulfilled and forms signed on the dotted line, you don’t have to worry about what an audit might find.

Providing welcome relief for HR

HR responsibilities require huge volumes of paperwork and massive attention to process and record-keeping. To ensure that regulations are met, processes can be complex and byzantine, and, because of that, subject to errors that can have serious consequences—for employees and the company.

Untangling this web of archaic manual processes and automating them using intelligent RPA can offer tremendous relief to your workers. Research shows that when employees deal with HR, they prefer to deal with humans whenever possible. Using bots as digital assistants to do the manual repetitive tasks and saving the important interactions for face-to-face encounters will not only reduce errors but will make every employee, including HR professionals, more satisfied. This in turn will decrease overall turnover and costs for your business.

Relief Is Here.

About Nancy Hauge

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Nancy Hauge is the chief people experience officer at Automation Anywhere. She is a recipient of the "Stevie Awards" for women in high tech and was named by the Silicon Valley Business Journal as one of the "100 Women of Influence" in Silicon Valley.

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