Introduction to the State of HR Automation in Today’s Large Organizations

Michelle Doyle

Iron Mountain recently worked with HR.com to survey HR.com’s membership base of Human Resources (HR) professionals in both large (2500+ employees) and mid-sized (500-2500 employees) organizations. The goal of the research was to better understand the current state as well as the possible future of the automation of HR processes. Two of the most compelling findings for the state of HR automation in today’s large organizations include the fact that highly automated HR departments are over twice as likely to say HR enjoys above-average effectiveness and they are also twice as likely to enjoy above-average productivity.

Although HR professionals in large organizations have seen that automating their HR workflows has increased their effectiveness and productivity, most are not highly automated in their HR processes.

In fact, according to the survey, the majority of participants in large organizations said that less than half of their HR processes are currently automated and only 37% of respondents said that their HR departments could be considered “highly automated”.

Unfortunately what this means is that these large organizations who have either not automated, or automated few of, their HR processes are missing out on the significant benefits automation can bring, including but not limited to the ability to leverage valuable HR data and analytics.

The survey also found that HR professionals from large organizations with highly automated HR departments are able to spend more time on strategic HR and business initiatives because the burden of performing manual administrative tasks have been reduced. Nearly 70% of respondents said when they use automation for their administrative tasks, they have more time for strategic planning and 64% said they are able to spend more time serving as business partners.

The main drivers for HR workflow automation

The two main drivers for automation cited by HR professionals from large organizations were the need to improve the effectiveness and efficiency  of their HR departments.

Respondents also said that the largest perceived barrier to HR workflow automation is a lack of resources. Outdated technology was listed as the next most significant barrier. However, some participants may not be aware that one of the most cost-effective and efficient ways to automate HR processes are through cloud-based services used by many HR professionals today. In fact, according to another recent HR.com report, the majority (56%) of HR professionals say they use part or all of their HR applications in the cloud.

Despite these challenges, the survey also found that certain HR processes are more likely to be automated than others. HR leaders in large organizations told us that the top three areas most automated today are:

  • payroll management (62%)

  • benefits (58%)
  • time and attendance (56%)

Respondents added that the HR process their organization would most likely automate over the next two years would be onboarding (46%).

Leverage automation, improve efficiency and effectiveness

It’s clear that the benefits HR workflow automation brings to larger organizations are too good to pass up. Here are some recommendations to consider on your HR automation journey:

  • Automate foundational HR processes first before moving to more complex processes.
  • Take a close look at onboarding automation.
  • Build a business case for automation.
  • Increase your HR team’s digital and technical literacy.
  • Be systematic about technology purchase decisions.
  • Develop and deliver meaningful analytics.
  • Implement new technology effectively.

To learn more about these findings in depth, please read the State of HR Automation in Large Organizations report here.

 

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