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Industry 4.0 and HR Automation in SMEs – What, Why, and How

This is the second in a series of five articles on Digital transformation and how it is impacting HR provision in small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). The first post considers how the introduction of HR software on its own is not digital transformation or Industry 4.0.
It goes on to look at three key areas: integration, data and automation and how they are linked and why you need to to integrate systems, machines, and platforms before you can make full use of the data in your business, while proper automation (where you will make the biggest efficiency savings) requires access to high-quality data.

In this post we consider automation in HR for SMEs and look at how it can be achieved.

What’s New?

HR in many companies, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, is an intensive administrative function. It also involves complex rules and regulations. Plus, a large part of the HR function is about people, increasing the challenge for the many businesses who are already struggling to cope with admin and paperwork overload. Is Industry 4.0 and HR automation the solution?

Most HR functions can be fully or partially automated. Those where automation will have minimal direct impact involve things like strategy formation, relationships, and change management. Everything else, however, can be improved through some form of automation.

It is also important to note that HR automation is not something that is reserved for large businesses and corporations. In fact, many of the most significant benefits will be seen in small and medium-sized businesses, as they are the businesses that typically have fewer HR resources. As a result, any efficiency and financial savings that can be made through HR automation, as well as any performance gains, will be amplified in small and medium-sized businesses.

Technology is not a barrier to SMEs either, as there is no need to develop solutions in-house. Instead, platforms like HR Duo make affordable HR automation technology available off-the-shelf, including technology designed specifically for SMEs.

What is HR Automation, and How Does it Fit in With Industry 4.0?

HR automation involves taking manual and highly repetitive processes and digitising them, partially or fully removing the need for human involvement.

It is not about things like saving digital documents instead of printing everything. Instead, it is about automating processes that are core to the HR function.

While automation is not the only aspect of Industry 4.0, it is a crucial component.

Why is HR Automation Important?

There are several crucial benefits that HR automation can bring to your business:

  • Enhances the efficiency of the HR function.
  • Puts the focus on value-added tasks rather than repetitive tasks. Those value-added tasks including creating HR strategies, talent forecasting, planning for the future, pipeline succession, and making decisions.
  • Eliminates data processing errors.
  • Improves HR-related decision-making.
  • Reduces HR costs, from staffing to IT to printing.
  • Reduces the resources required to complete HR tasks.
  • Improves employee engagement.
  • Reduces employee turnover through improved engagement and a more efficient and effective HR function.
  • Multiple organisational benefits, including improved growth due to having the right talent in place at the right time.

How Can You Implement HR Automation in Your SME?

HR automation is not a concept for the future, as the technology is available today. Here are just some of the HR tasks and processes that you can partially or fully automate:

  • Rosters and timesheets – managing rosters and timesheets are highly manual processes that are often subject to double work as situations change and paperwork is amended. Data entry errors are also a problem, but all these challenges can be solved with HR automation.
  • Employee onboarding – this is typically a highly manual process that includes collecting information and documents from the new hire, providing them with information and access to facilities, setting them up with a workstation and ensuring they have the devices they need, providing them with induction training, and more. Many of these tasks can be automated.
  • Employee offboarding – this is another manual process, although it often doesn’t get the same level of consideration as other processes. It can be time-consuming, though, completing paperwork, updating systems, calculating and making the final salary payment, collecting company equipment, changing passwords and application access, updating company contact directories, etc. HR automation makes employee offboarding more efficient.
  • Performance management – with HR automation, you can move away from a subjective process that is not only open to bias, but the suspicion of bias. HR automation also streamlines the process, enhances satisfaction and engagement rates, and improves decision making.
  • Holiday requests – this manual process that often lacks structure can be streamlined with HR automation.
  • Recruitment – you can automate various recruitment tasks, including advertising vacancies, tracking responses, screening potential candidates, setting interviews based on candidate prioritisation, automating communication and record-keeping, and more.
  • Expense claims – much of the repetitive work with this task happens at the employee level, but this is still important as it impacts employee satisfaction and productivity. There are also often manual processes at the HR side, as expense claims are checked, authorised, and processed. Much, if not all, of this can be automated.

Adding Value to the Business

HR automation is about moving HR from being a process-led function swamped in administration to a purpose-led function that adds value to your business. In other words, HR automation will let you get on with what’s important – serving your customers and working towards your goals.

This is part 2 of a 5-part series. Check back in a week or so or subscribe to make sure you receive part three –

“Don’t Get Left Behind in the HR Digital Transformation Advance”

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