While most HR teams recognise the importance of adding strategic value to their business, the time-consuming nature of HR administration is often a major barrier.

Overwhelmed by the plethora of admin tasks required to keep your business running day-to-day, it can seem impossible to find time to make any significant contribution to your company’s future direction. HR initiatives such as reducing absenteeism, implementing a performance management process or improving reporting and analytics, will all add much greater value – nevertheless, the routine administration must be done, whatever your strategic priority.

The problem is exacerbated when everything has to be done manually, relying on spreadsheets and physical data entry to maintain employee information. If this sounds familiar then it might be time to look towards process automation and employee self-service, to reduce your workload and free up time to focus on what really matters.

If you’re not sure where to start, then you’re in the right place. This blog post will look at the six most common HR processes to begin automating, so you can start cutting through administration without further delay.

1. Take your leave from holiday forms

Top of the wishlist for most HR teams is an end to the tortuous holiday booking cycle. Leave request processes can be unnecessarily complex for all parties, often requiring employees to apply multiple times for days off, as they clash with other employees being out of the office.

These requests are time-consuming for you to process and irritating for employees when rejected – especially when they could instead simply check a shared calendar themselves to ensure there’s no conflict.

Overcoming HR administration task through time off management

Automation will not only speed up the holiday request process, using workflow reminders and notifications for each intervention (such as a manager’s approval), it also instantly updates the employee record, so you don’t have to.

2. Centralise employee data

When a company is smaller, managing the personal information of employees isn’t too difficult – but with every additional hire, the complexity increases.

As the business grows, tracking and updating all your employees’ personal information can be a real headache, particularly if that data is fragmented and resides in multiple spreadsheets. Centralising the data is key to saving time but also improving analytics and reporting, while automation in this area also helps to reduce the risk of data loss, manual entry errors and non-compliance.

With a single, central HR database that is searchable, you’ll save time looking up employee data such as references, holiday entitlement, training allowance, sick days, remuneration package details and much more.

3. Call time on manual timesheets

In many SMEs, timesheets are central to performance monitoring and management, but validating these records in a manual fashion can be incredibly demanding on your HR department.

Identifying ways to automate the collection and management of this timesheet data can therefore significantly reduce your workload and saves you having to manually update employee records too.

An integrated system that provides your employees and managers with the self-service functionality to manage timesheets directly, can very quickly minimise the role of HR in the whole process.

4. Improve your on-boarding

First impressions count, so your on-boarding process goes a long way in setting the tone for every new recruit. Get it right, and you’ll not only help your new hires feel they have joined a professional organisation – you’ll also help them hit the ground running and feel at home more quickly.

HR automation can help the on-boarding process by providing timely reminders to get things set up in advance of the new starter’s first day – issuing staged notifications, for example, to get their IT equipment set up, configure their email and prepare their desk.

You could also receive reminders to get a copy of the new employee’s passport, preventing red-tape or payroll delays later down the line.

Automation can also support the off-boarding process in a similar manner – reminding the exiting employee to fulfil all their obligations (shutting down email accounts, returning equipment, identity cards etc). This eliminates the need for HR to have to chase people in person, ensures the exit checklist is checked-off and should reduce the need to pursue past employees after they have left your company.

5. Schedule those feedback sessions

Modern performance management tools have reinvented the workplace appraisal, with analytics contributing significantly to today’s feedback procedures in a wide range of businesses.

However, it’s often the scheduling of appraisals which can provide the greatest challenge for HR, with that three-month feedback session likely to keep slipping back further, due to time pressures on all relevant parties.

Automated notifications and reminders can help make sure these appraisals happen on time, ensuring a consistent and regular flow of feedback to your employees.

6. Streamline expense management

Expense management doesn’t just fall under HR’s remit. Traditionally, it has many touch points in the business. Yet, it is a task often completed on an Excel spreadsheet or via a separate accounting system.

Normally, an expense claim would be completed on a spreadsheet, along with multiple receipts or invoices, then checked by a manager before being sent to the accounting department for manual input into the company’s system. Only then can payment be processed.

Overcoming HR administration through expenses

Automation here allows for the removal of several manual steps – which not only ensures employees are reimbursed in a more timely fashion but also reduces the risk of an accounting error.

In summary

Persisting with heavily manual HR processes has implications right across the business. Frustrating and time-consuming for HR, it also introduces risks in the areas of compliance and employee satisfaction, with staff likely to become annoyed by hold-ups in the onboarding process, holiday approvals, appraisals and/or training.

Automating some of these processes and centralising your data through HR software can quickly lift the admin burden on everyone and contribute to a more productive working environment – after all, you don’t want to subject your employees to any more unnecessary administration either.

Most importantly for your HR team, it will give you the breathing space you need to start playing a more proactive role in improving the performance of your business.

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