HR departments have had their hands full of late. If the pandemic and the urgent switch to online working together with the ensuing need to co-ordinate new remote and blended working practices was not enough, they are now dealing with the urgent need to find the right talent and build a new corporate culture that makes for a productive yet rewarding workplace, says Maria Joseph.

And all while keeping a close eye on budgets as inflation soars and a recession looms. Automation is becoming an increasingly popular tool for helping HR departments deal with their latest challenge, but how exactly does it help?

Despite the current economic woes, for now employment rates are still high and enterprises across sectors are battling to retain and attract the best talent. Flexible and blended working have become minimal prerequisites to try and lure a choosy workforce to stay or join. Beyond simple working practices, employees are looking for workplaces with fulfilling company cultures and stimulating and rewarding roles. Over the last 12 months we have seen a surge in demand for workflow automation technology from HR teams looking to use automation to stand out and improve the employee experience right from the start.

Indeed, it is little wonder that our recent work automation index report found recruitment automations to be up 316 percent on last year as HR departments across sectors seek new talent more efficiently. The NHS has recently made the headlines for turning to automation to help it with recruitment as it faces its greatest workforce crisis.

What are the benefits of using automation?

By automating recruitment processes, enterprises can sieve out the most suitable candidates for consideration significantly more quickly. Automating the recruitment process also improves the experience for prospective recruits. With less mundane admin tasks to fulfil, recruiters focus on building relationships with prospective candidates while the quicker and slicker process, which itself helps to leave a positive impression of the company, means candidates get faster responses, and do not have to wait as long for a hiring decision.

Similarly, employee onboarding automations have also grown 256 percent over the last 12 months, accounting for 20 percent of all automated HR processes. The task of onboarding new starters has become more complex as the workforce has become more dispersed. Automating the onboarding process helps to improve the experience for new hires and enables them to be more productive from the onset. Using automation to help the onboarding process brings other benefits too, such as enabling businesses to trim costs through identifying the licences or services that are underutilised and that can be removed without disrupting the business.

How can automation impact HR?

HR is indeed one of the sectors leading the adoption of automation, together with the hospitality sector (which saw a soar in uptake of 1518 percent as this sector seeks to recoup losses from the pandemic by streamlining processes) and the finance sector, which is currently leading the field, today making up 26 percent of all automations.

As organisations and enterprises across sectors look to make cost savings, operate more efficiently and critically, make employees roles more rewarding by automating the more mundane and administrative tasks, we will inevitably see a rise in automations across the board. But for now, it is fitting that HR is leading by example and driving workflow automation not just for the commercial good of the enterprise but in the best interests of employees and individuals.


Maria Joseph is Chief of Staff at Workato,