We wouldn’t be surprised if the saying “So much to do, so little time” was coined to describe the daily life of the HR department.
In a business landscape where the need for high-quality talent is more powerful than ever and turnover is three times higher for employees who are onboarded manually instead of with HR workflow automation software—the list of extremely important tasks that HR departments handle seems to grow by the hour.
But you can’t always afford to just hire more people nor can you expect the ones you already have to work around the clock.
So what’s a business owner to do?
Empower your HR team with the power of HR workflow automation.
7 Ways to Integrate HR Workflow Automation
HR workflow automation software creates a cohesive flow in which the steps are clear and all the moving parts are integrated.
But it can’t completely replace your HR department—nor is it meant to.
Where HR workflow automation shines the brightest is in helping you eliminate the time your team is wasting on high-volume, low-skill, and error-riddled tasks so they can focus on the strategies that attract, win, and keep top talent. Think along the lines of repetitive document workflows, standard approval chains, etc. These are the tasks which distract your employee’s attention from more strategic thinking.
Here are seven ways to introduce HR workflow automation to make over your most important business processes.
1. Get Better Talent Faster Through a Fully Digital Hiring Process
The conventional hiring process is exhausting.
Hours spent manually entering data into one or more internal databases. Days of coordinating the logistics of sending and receiving applications that work seamlessly across a wide variety of operating systems and devices. Misentered information stopping your entire process in its tracks until you’re able to get it corrected.
With HR workflow automation, it doesn’t have to be like that.
With an HR onboarding tool (like Dropbox Forms), applications can be shared and completed digitally. Even complex forms can be translated into mobile-friendly, guided workflows where smart data fields help reduce redundant questions and catch errors.
Imagine your onboarding flow going from this to this:
Once a hire is made, instead of printing, filling out, scanning, and filing the seemingly endless new hire paperwork like NDAs, tax documentation, employment agreements, and more; HR workflow automation software will allow you to securely complete and store all of it digitally. It’s always there if you need to print it, but it won’t clutter up your office if you don’t.
2. Create Thoughtful, Automated Onboarding to 3x Retention
Onboarding is often a complex process that requires coordinating input and assets from the IT department to the C-suite. It also sets the tone for an employee’s experience while they’re with the company. Unfortunately, the way we’ve been doing it for years hasn’t made a very good impression.
In fact, turnover can be as much as three times higher when onboarding is completed manually instead of with HR workflow automation software. Need we say more about why you should jump on this bandwagon before it runs you over?
Similar to the ways in which HR workflow automation can streamline hiring, it can reduce redundancy, attrition, remediation, and wasted time. All of which can shrink turnover in the long run.
Once you implement an HR workflow automation tool such as Dropbox Forms (if you’re unfamiliar with Dropbox Forms, here’s a great post explaining it) all a new hire has to do when it comes to paperwork is enter the relevant information as they’re guided through the experience. Any information they entered into a field will auto-fill in matching fields, so there’s no redundancies like there are with traditional forms. This data flows directly to the database you indicate so it can be accessed and shared as needed without circulating hard-to-use and non-secure PDFs.
Onboarding is the perfect metaphor for what your HR team should be—so much more than just a bunch of paperwork and passwords.
With HR workflow automation in place, your HR department can put the paper pushing aside and flex their uniquely creative and analytical minds to develop an onboarding experience that creates productive and loyal employees. Here’s how we used extra time to create ours at Dropbox Sign.
3. Reclaim Two Days A Month with More Efficient Time Tracking
Time tracking isn’t glamorous to talk about. But whether you’re billing clients or timing tasks for estimation purposes—it’s a vital part of your business. It might also be a huge timesuck that you’re overlooking.
Managers spend 15 or more hours every month just dealing with timesheets. I don’t know about you, but I think there are much better ways to spend almost two entire work days!
While you might not still be using the same old time stamp machine you clocked in and out on during your stint at Waffle House in highschool, that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement in your time tracking process.
Spreadsheets or even clunky digital tools aren’t just a bummer to look at, they often don’t give you the opportunity to automate certain data points that you find yourself entering over and over and leave a lot of room for error.
HR workflow automation makes the process faster for employees, catches errors right when they happen, empowers managers to review and approve timesheets quickly from anywhere, and can even automatically record the payment in your financial software.
4. Turn Performance Reviews on Their Head for Actual Results
When revamping their performance management system, Deloitte discovered they were spending a staggering 2 millions hours every year just on the forms, meetings, and ratings pertaining to performance management.
I guess it’s true what Wharton’s Director of the Center for Human Resources Peter Cappelli says: “Performance appraisals, the evaluation of an employee’s job performance over the previous period by one’s supervisor, are a standard practice in virtually every organization. They are one of the most important, time-consuming, and unpopular tasks in management.”
HR workflow automation promises to cut down on the time we spend giving and sitting in performance reviews.
Aside from the obvious ways in which automation can streamline the performance review workflow, another huge benefit is the opportunity it gives HR teams to flip the entire system on its head. HR professionals and managers alike are starting to see the benefit of using software to create ongoing conversations around each employee’s performance.
Because it all lives on a digital device, it feels easy and natural for workers to discuss and receive feedback about their work in a way that feels unthreatening and actionable.
Manager, employees, and HR departments can use HR workflow automation to save time on forms, share feedback in real time, and actually benefit from performance reviews instead of dreading them.
5. Make Vacation Dreams Come True a Whole Lot Faster
A process like requesting, approving, and tracking leave requests is a perfect candidate for HR workflow automation and a great place to start if you’re only just entering the digital transformation arena.
The typical process (or what sometimes feels like the lack thereof) for a busy HR person might look something like this: You receive a paper form or an email from an employee requesting time off. You misplace or accidentally delete it from your inbox and have to track it down before finally sitting down to enter it into your system. But first, you know from experience to confirm the dates with the employee. Oops, those dates aren’t right. Hold on until they can get their mom on the phone to confirm the details for their trip to Gnome Countryside (you’ve never seen anything so wholesome). Several hours, or even days, after the employee submitted their request you can finally enter their leave request into your database. And if it’s not approved you can look forward to repeating that process at least once more.
HR workflow automation can make the entire leave request process almost completely hands off. You’ll be able to eliminate convoluted requests as well as streamline the approval process so that each key team member is notified when it’s their turn to review the request.
Once that process is complete it can even drop the pertinent info back into your system to keep track of time off so you’re not left search through email chains or a pile of papers on their way to the shredder.
6. Never Fall Asleep Reading an Expense Claim Again
Expense claims are another great opportunity to flex your HR workflow automation muscles. They’re repetitive, happen with some volume, and really aren’t all that fun to process.
When it comes to expense claims most businesses probably implement a system that’s paper or at least form heavy, time consuming, prone to human error, and could be formatted to fit your needs way better.
Automated workflows don’t just streamline things from the input side but help People Ops and financial teams keep track of even the most minute details and generate automatic reports on a regular schedule.
And if they’re really good they might even do that cool thing where you can scan and record a receipt all from your cell phone camera.
7. Maintain Business Security with Bulletproof Offboarding
Making offboarding a smooth process isn’t just good for team morale—it’s great for business continuity and security.
Between gathering door keys, checking returned equipment for damage, removing permissions to your internal software, and planning an awesome going away happy hour there are a ton of moving parts that come with an employee’s departure.
HR workflow automation software is an effective and efficient replacement for simply hoping each department completes their part of the ever-growing list that’s taped to the side of Lisa’s desk. Automatic reminders to both the person leaving and each team member who will play a role in their successful departure help make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
And because of the secure and digital nature of HR workflow automation software, the paperwork you’ll still need to keep on hand for that former employee’s record doesn’t have to sit around cluttering your valuable mind and desk space.
Top talent doesn’t just fall in your lap. Nor does it stick around long if it isn’t nurtured. That’s why People Ops is probably one of the most valuable departments in your organization.
And if one of your most valuable departments doesn’t even have the time to put people before paperwork—what does that say about the rest of your business?
Save time, save money, but most importantly open the door to reinventing and improving the way things have always been done with HR workflow automation.