Key takeaways

  • HR automation can reduce or eliminate repetitive, mundane tasks to free up time for your HR department.
  • Available HR automations include sourcing candidates, running payroll, assigning training courses, and generating reports.
  • Most top HR software on the market today already includes automation capabilities.

Sept. 22, 2023: Kara Sherrer reorganized the article to make it easier to read. Kara also revised the copy for clarity and length.

Looking for HR tech to help with automation? Check out our HR Software Guide to browse solutions.

What is HR automation?

HR automation leverages technology to replace manual tasks with self-operating computer programs. Processes that are repetitive, mundane, and easily replicated, such as data entry, are usually the best candidates for automation. In fact, intelligent automation is one of the key ways in which artificial intelligence (AI) is currently impacting HR. Implementing even one human resources automation can also save time, which can make a tremendous difference for lean HR management teams.

6 HR tasks to automate

  1. Sourcing candidates and scheduling interviews.
  2. Completing onboarding and offboarding paperwork.
  3. Calculating timesheets.
  4. Processing payroll.
  5. Assigning training courses.
  6. Generating reports.

1. Sourcing candidates and scheduling interviews

Start automating HR processes at the beginning of the employee life cycle with applicant tracking systems (ATS) and other recruitment software. These tools leverage automation to help hiring teams source and assess candidates more efficiently during the interview process.

For example, Breezy HR lets you post one job to dozens of job boards with a single click instead of posting to each board individually. Once applications start rolling in, the software helps recruiters automatically sort and prioritize applications based on custom rules. Other critical tasks that Breezy HR can automate include interview scheduling, candidate follow-up, and compliance reporting.

Automating hiring processes like these helps reduce time-to-hire metrics and improve candidate quality.

Breezy HR displays an applicant questionnaire and a workflow that automatically disqualifies candidates based on their responses.
Automated screening workflows help eliminate unqualified applicants earlier in the hiring process so recruiters can spend more time interviewing the best candidates. Source: Breezy HR

2. Completing onboarding and offboarding paperwork

Once a new hire has accepted a job offer, HR automation speeds up the onboarding process. For example, an HRIS like Rippling can remind a new hire to submit required paperwork digitally and complete necessary training courses to ensure compliance. Without automations in place, HR staff would need to follow up with each employee individually — this risks something falling through the cracks and takes time away from more valuable work.

Rippling can also automate offboarding when it’s time for employees to depart from the company. This reduces the amount of time and effort needed to log termination notices, notify employees of COBRA and other insurance options, and revoke access to business accounts.

Rippling displays an employee profile with status indicators for onboarding documents that are pending signatures.
Automating onboarding and offboarding processes makes it easy to keep track of paperwork that still needs to be submitted. Source: Rippling

3. Calculating timesheets

HR staff are responsible for calculating the total number of hours each hourly employee worked within a given pay period — a process that is tedious to complete manually. Thankfully, time-tracking tools like Homebase automatically calculate timesheets based on employees’ time punches, breaks, and paid and unpaid time off.

Creating timesheets via automation is easier and faster than doing it by hand, but it more importantly, it helps facilitate transparency and minimizes the risk of human error. Employees can feel confident they’re receiving the correct wages for the time they worked, and employers can feel confident their labor costs are accurate. Additionally, Homebase and similar apps can automatically flag overtime, compliance violations, and other irregularities.

Homebase displays a dashboard with weekly labor costs and an alert about one employee's potential overtime.
Automatic timesheet calculations ensure hourly employees are paid accurately while also giving employers more control over unexpected labor costs. Source: Homebase

4. Processing payroll

HR automation adds efficiency, accuracy, and convenience to payroll processes, especially as payroll structures become more complex. Variables like employee classifications, pay rates, pay schedules, employee locations, and payment methods can add hours of processing time to manual payroll workflows. However, most payroll apps can automate part — if not all — of the necessary steps.

For example, an HR tool such as Gusto can perform automatic calculations for taxes, non-tax deductions, overtime, commissions, holiday pay, bonuses, and other elements that affect final payroll amounts. When Gusto’s Payroll on AutoPilot feature is enabled, every step of the payroll process is automated, including filing taxes with the appropriate government agencies.

Many HR systems will also digitally store employee tax records for the required number of years, and then automatically archive the records after the audit window has passed. This ensures compliance with federal, state, and local laws, and helps provide clarity in the event of an audit.

Gusto displays a message window with Payroll on AutoPilot settings enabled.
Fully automated payroll processing alleviates many of the headaches associated with paying employees. Source: TechnologyAdvice/Gusto

5. Assigning training courses

Learning management systems can automate various tasks to boost the overall success of your company’s training program. Instead of manually assigning courses to each employee, you can configure LMS automations to handle most of the heavy lifting.

For example, Rippling — our favorite LMS platform for automation — lets you create workflows that assign training modules to employees based on their role, department, location, or specific events like promotions and certification expirations. Then, the software monitors each employee’s progress and sends automated reminders to those who are getting close to an upcoming deadline.

Rippling displays a dialogue box with settings for course enrollment rules.
LMS automations let HR staff and training instructors spend more time focusing on your company’s training needs than manually assigning courses and monitoring progress. Source: Rippling

6. Generating reports

One of the greatest benefits of integrated software is the ability to track various key performance indicators (KPIs) across the company, including HR metrics and employee data. Whether it’s basic HR software for small businesses or comprehensive HR software for enterprises, the platform should allow users to track all relevant aspects of HR activity. This includes employee turnover, cost per hire, benefits participation rate, absenteeism, employee satisfaction, and more.

However, preparing reports that interpret those metrics can be a tedious process, which is why the best HR automation software will also generate reports with valuable insights when you need them the most. 

Workday’s people analytics module is one such tool. The analytics dashboard offers real-time data analysis and visualization to highlight workforce trends and opportunities. You can configure reports that interpret metrics spanning all of human resources, including employee sentiment, organizational performance, and talent retention.

Automating this type of reporting saves hours of admin work, but more significantly, it leverages technology to guide decision-making and uncover patterns that a human may accidentally overlook.

Workday displays a people analytics dashboard with visualizations for time-to-hire metrics.
Automated reports and analytics dashboards make decision-making easier and faster. Source: Workday

What are the benefits of HR automation?

Automating even one HR process can benefit both your HR team and your entire company. Here are some of the benefits of HR automation:

  • Saves money on staffing and software costs.
  • Saves time by cutting down on manual work and repetitive HR tasks.
  • Improves consistency in HR processes across locations and teams.
  • Reduces the need for manual data entry.
  • Improves team collaboration and communication.
  • Increases security and compliance.
  • Limits human error in payroll and tax calculations.
  • Speeds up the recruiting process so you can hire candidates faster.
  • Simplifies the onboarding and offboarding process.

Looking to learn more about what HR automation trends are available to your human resources team? Check our Human Resources Software Guide, which breaks down what features to look for and offers our top recommendations across various categories.

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