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The Future of HR: How Automation is Transforming Employee Onboarding and Retention

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No shortage of readily available data and information tells us automation is a mainstay. The advent of and constant introduction of new automation tools significantly impacts how we work.

Proven to save time and money, organizations are investing in more and more automation to help them increase productivity and optimize processes. 

If nothing else, all this automation chatter should be telling you to pay attention, listen up, and make a plan. Those who fail to invest in automation will fail to get ahead. 

Many early adopters of automation work in human resources departments. With the sheer amount of paperwork that goes into recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and retaining talent, this should come as no surprise. 

So, how exactly is automation transforming the HR experience? Let’s explore how time, money, and perception have all impacted. 

Freeing up hours per week

A recent survey conducted by Propeller Insights on behalf of airSlate revealed that 70% of HR managers report that team members are spending 5 to 12 hours per week on manual paperwork

When one to two workdays are dedicated to manual paperwork, focusing on meaningful work that could generate revenue, improve the employee experience, or increase overall productivity becomes a challenge. 

Anybody who has ever been employed knows firsthand the amount of paperwork that comes with accepting a job. Between an offer letter, benefits elections, direct deposit enrollment, filling out a W4 form, and so on, it can take hours to complete paperwork before a job has even begun. 

On the other side of the coin, HR departments must prepare hiring and onboarding paperwork for every single employee that comes through their doors. 

The survey revealed that HR leaders are using automation tools to improve how they handle benefits enrollment, performance reviews, payroll, talent acquisition, employee engagement surveys, and state and federal regulatory updates and compliances. 

95% of those surveyed who had invested in workflow automation saw an increase in their team’s efficiency and expanded their ability to support larger business goals. 

When resources are tied up in manual paperwork, larger business goals are impacted because there is a lack of collective focus on optimization, productivity, and overall improvement. 

While investing in automation requires a financial commitment, the trade-off is that more energy will be dedicated to improving the organization, which can drive profitability, scalability, and growth. 

An improved employee-employer relationship

Imagine you’ve just accepted a job. On your first day at the office – virtual or in person – you are asked to complete all your paperwork and spend hours reviewing training materials. You don’t even get to dive into what you were hired to do until the end of your first week. It’s kind of a buzzkill. 

Now, imagine that you’ve accepted a job, and all of your paperwork comes to you electronically prior to your first day. It’s packaged up professionally, and the info you input at the beginning of the process is automatically populated into the documents that follow. It’s a breeze to complete, and you can dive right into working and connecting with your colleagues on your first day. 

According to Sapling, the average new employee has 54 tasks to complete during onboarding. How they go about that can make a huge difference. 

Aside from how appealing it is to complete HR outsourcing onboarding docs via automation software seamlessly, the optics are also important. Beyond the interview process, the onboarding experience is an important opportunity to make a good first impression on a new employee. 

Delivering a structured and pleasant onboarding experience can be a good predictor of talent retention. Glassdoor once reported that a solid onboarding experience can improve new hire retention by 82% and can improve the productivity of new hires by more than 70%. 

Let’s take a look at this from the employer’s point of view. 

HR managers can spend at least 3 hours collecting onboarding information manually and close to $2,000 in training new employees. That’s time and money that can’t be given back. While onboarding and training are absolutely essential and can eventually lead to increased profit margins, inefficiencies in the process can have costly and irreversible consequences. 

A structured, automated onboarding process gives employees the solid foundation they expect and gives HR professionals more time to strategize and improve. It also ensures that their investment in new employees pays off. 

Beyond the onboarding process, automation comes in handy throughout an employee’s entire lifecycle. 

When it comes to performance reviews, giving and collecting peer and manager feedback, ongoing training, and more, having a clean, automated process can turn a headache into a valuable experience. 

It pays dividends when employees feel their company is invested in their growth, development, well-being, and overall experience. Employees will feel more loyal and more willing to put in their hard work. 

One popular way of rewarding employees is to organise team away days, this type of out of the office excursion can rejuvinate the team, plus it’s pretty fun.

This goes for HR professionals as well. When they feel like they are given the autonomy and the support to implement process-improvement tools, they will feel more empowered to innovate, create lasting change, and feel fulfilled in their roles. 

HR investments: Where and how professionals are focusing 

In our aforementioned survey, 75% of HR teams said that by 2024 they will increase their investment in workflow automation technologies by 10-30%. With ¾ of HR teams spending more on automation, productivity is set to skyrocket. Organizations without an automation strategy will find it increasingly hard to maintain a competitive advantage. 

Traditionally, investing in software has been reserved for large enterprises that have access to more resources and a more robust budget. However, innovations in the tech sector have opened up a path for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to invest and gain that competitive edge. 

HR professionals in companies of all sizes have invested in and continue to seek automation tools that:

  •  Are cost-effective
  • Improve productivity
  • Streamline outdated processes
  • Enable cross-functional collaboration
  • Are easy to implement and use
  • Provide an improved employee experience

Specifically, HR professionals want tools that are low-code/no-code, come with ready-made templates, feature robotic process automation (RPA), have deep third-party integrations, and have industry-leading security and compliance. 

HR professionals in SMBs are prioritizing workflow automation that streamlines paperwork for new hires, tax withholdings, and workforce management purposes, while larger organizations choose to automate benefits enrollment, payroll, and employee engagement surveys.

Such a focus on automation is sure to change how job seekers go about making their decisions. There will be more scrutiny, and people will be pickier about where they choose to spend their careers. However, the flip side is that a wise investment in automation can mean more employees for the long haul when done right. 

Using airSlate to optimize HR processes

airSlate is a no-code workflow automation solution that transforms the daily working processes of organizations and their teams.

airSlate’s suite of products enables businesses to improve their document workflows easily and quickly. Whether it’s editing PDFs, creating forms, eSigning documents, or automating workflows, the airSlate suite of tools helps people and businesses transform how they handle their digital processes. Individuals and teams can collaborate at any time, from any device, on any cloud environment, supported by industry-leading security and compliance standards that protect important data.   

With airSlate, HR professionals can:

  • Apply automation to any repetitive process that involves documents and multiple people
  • Choose from pre-made workflow templates or customize them to fit specific requirements
  • Add forms and documents with fillable fields and eSignature capabilities to HR workflows
  • Track changes to documents and workflows using a comprehensive audit log 
  • Use bots to integrate HR workflows with third-party business applications and transfer data to and from other documents or databases 
  • Transform their processes without writing a single line of code!

Learn more about airSlate here. Click here to download a free report that dives deeper into how HR professionals are investing in automation.

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