Just as intelligent automation is converting traditional cost-center activities into profit-center projects within organizations, the field of human resources (HR) is one that is undergoing the biggest change. For years, HR has been perceived as an expense for companies, but it is now becoming a revenue-garnering initiative that is just as open to Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and a digital workforce as other business functions. A digital workforce is a mutually independent team of scalable software robots that work in collaboration with human workers for routine and repetitive tasks.

The most conventional responsibilities of HR—talent acquisition and candidate evaluation—can now potentially be augmented with a digital workforce for smarter outcomes. Recruiting and onboarding new employees involves a lot of paperwork, time-consuming processing, and routine form-filling that can be outsourced by a digital workforce powered by cognitive automation.

This is leading to an evolution in how HR teams function and are perceived within modern corporations. For HR professionals, the improvements promised by implementing automation into conventional HR tasks can be classified as:

• Strategically leveraging HR policies and perception as a competitive advantage that builds competencies for the organisation

• Developing unique hiring processes that differentiate the organization from the competition and create a positive brand image in the job market as an attractive place to work

• Engaging with employees in a more frequent and deeper manner to generate long-term loyalty and reduce attrition rates

What this means for the modern HR professional

For HR professionals and business leaders within an organisation, this is leading to a drastic shift in how they view their roles and how they can implement projects. Their changing roles and responsibilities indicate that automation has the power to permanently transform the field of HR, much like it is transforming various other industries by automating routine and repetitive tasks.

HR professionals need to consciously think of cognitive strategies for their organisations and determine how workplace transformation led by automation will impact them. This will enable them to position themselves as great places to work, enhance employee productivity and optimize the deployment of company resources. They need to understand what this means for their team members and how they can plan their work better. Altering traditional recruitment and employee engagement activities is also a key element to be focused upon.

For instance, HR personnel can now outsource the following tasks when a new employee joins an organization: update the applicant tracking system, update the employee database, complete documentation formalities and add to the employee payroll system. While all these tasks are being carried out by the digital workforce, or software bots, the HR team member can physically be present with the employee and focus on other activities such as giving a company tour, facilitating meetings with other team members or simply getting to know the employee better so that future interactions can be more personalized and fulfilling.

Thus, automation in HR can actually bring back the ‘human’ in human resources and build a personal rapport between the HR team and a new employee from day one. The importance of such a relationship cannot be underestimated, as long-term employee tenures are dependent on such interactions and how comfortable they feel.

Several use cases have highlighted that when a company integrates automation into its HR processes, it’s not just the department that benefits; the entire company can feel the positive effects of that transition. It can reduce onboarding tasks to days from weeks, it can add more engaging and learning interactions with employees from day one and it can foster a culture of creativity that can encourage workers to focus on long-term objectives rather than short-term, monotonous work. It is an exciting time for HR personnel as automation can boost productivity and employee satisfaction, and as more corporations adopt evolutionary practices, it can become the industry norm.

One of the most critical outcomes of automation in HR is that it can make new employees feel like more than just a number, or an unnamed resource. It removes all the routine tasks that workers have come to expect, and it gives them time and space to focus on inter-personal relationships and soft-skilled tasks instead. For every organisation, this translates into liberation from boring tasks, and the freedom to pursue more creatively fulfilling work in the long run.

Views are personal.

The author is EVP IMEA Automation Anywhere.

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