Across industries, Human Resources teams are being challenged to do more with less. This means being innovative and coming up with new ways to work, producing more with the same number of (or fewer) employees, improving efficiency and at the same time recognising that in order to be competitive in the war on talent, you need to meet employee demands for a better more engaging experience.

However, when I engage with HR teams they tell me about an environment of highly manual repetitive tasks which include sifting through résumés, consolidating timesheets, creating reports and dealing with multiple forms that lead to handoffs, causing delays in the end-to-end process. The conclusion? Life is spent “processing” the day-to-day volume rather than acting as a strategic valuing adding partner.

Here at CGI we are constantly engaging with and talking to our clients to understand what’s keeping us up at night. We consolidate the takeaways from thousands of conversations with executives to gather their perspectives on the trends affecting their enterprises and play this back in an annual report that we call Insights to Action.

Meeting customer, citizen and employee expectations for digital services remained the most impactful industry trend for executives across industries. IT modernisation and integration was second in terms of impact, rising significantly from the previous year. Both IT modernisation and becoming digital are also among the top IT and business priorities, reflecting a strong theme among all executives. For us, we see Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Robotic Process Automation all as part of this digital transformation trend. This could be the work we have done to evolve end-user support services through ongoing digitization and automation of these services, taking advantage of new technology to improve service delivery on an ongoing basis for international energy company Equinor (formerly Statoil), or using chatbots to help provide automated customer support for French retirement and pension administrator CNAV, or working with the Finnish Post Office, Posti to automate processes to free up employees time to improve customer experience.

While Automation is making significant inroads into how the HR department functions, most companies are executing tasks in very traditional ways using dated technology applications. While companies recognise the importance of technology in HR, in our experience there has been a visible reluctance to adopt automation to streamline their internal HR processes. This could well be attributed to cultural challenges, fearing job losses or quite simply, an unwillingness to embrace technological change. The study by Software suggest¹ pointed out that as many as 45% of companies are still right at the start of the journey in implementing basic automation, implying that the potential of automation in process management is still, to a large extent, unrealised.

The traditional approach is clearly not working

As intelligent automation finds its way into corporate workplaces, the human resource department with all its inefficiencies is a potent target. As your company looks to scale and add more workforce across verticals, a failure to automate HR process could only compound business problems for the Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO).

The following problems which might occur when automation is ignored within the HR departments:

  1. Inefficient HR operations: Like with almost all cases of successful automation implementation, increased efficiency is one of the biggest take-aways. HR associates are often spending their time on unproductive and monotonous tasks which often do not add business value. These include filing tedious paperwork or feeding the same set of information into multiple tools which do not communicate with each other. As per a report by the CareerBuilder Survey², HR managers lose an average of 14 hours per week completing tasks that could have been automated, while more than a quarter waste 30 hours or more.
    Automation could help to significantly reduce inefficient HR operations and allow repetitive tasks to be completed by machines or bots, leaving humans to focus on tasks which might add credible business value.
  2. Cost of paper and human errors: The human resource department has a number of repetitive tasks which should be best left for machines to tackle. These could include verifying timesheets, checking leave, calculating payrolls and the like. Involving HR associates could often be the recipe for disaster. Human error creeps in which could take a large amount of time and effort to identify and correct. Manual errors are costly as paper gets lost or misfiled, might be illegible or somehow unusable and this means it often gets replaced by even more paper files. eFileCabinet³ in one of its reports suggested that the average organisation spends $20 per paper to file it, $120 searching for each lost document and $220 for the recreation of the document.
    Automation technology is a great investment that will make employees’ lives easier and improve customer engagement. Digital software also identifies mistakes before you submit your form or document, which prevents inbox flooding and employees don’t need to track down their managers to fix simple errors.
  3. Poor customer experience: Different aspects of the hiring process and inefficient onboarding could leave the new candidate frustrated and might lead to a bad hiring experience. A candidate might feel disheartened if HR does not follow-up with them, and given the fact that HR associates are swamped with manual tasks, it is possible that they might overlook the new candidate experience. The same holds true for training – a report by Businesswire⁴ suggested that 36% of HR professionals said that their inability to automate and organise the onboarding process, negatively impacted their training outcomes. Another report advocates that doing this well pays off handsomely, as organisations with standardised onboarding processes experience 62% new hire productivity along with 50% new hire retention.

A number of traditional HR processes could easily be automated. From employee onboarding to maintaining accurate timesheets, leave requests, performance management and even exit interviews.

CGI brings seamless automation to Human Resources processes

The McKinsey Global Institute⁶ estimates that as much as 56% of all tasks human resource departments perform, can be automated with existing technologies. Needless to suggest, this automation would allow associates and executives with the time to focus on delivering business value where it matters.

At CGI, we use our Intelligent Automation Framework to help clients identify and apply the right automation technologies to advance their HR digital agenda. Our intelligent automation (IA) services enable the automation of manual tasks and routine business processes across the majority of HR functions ranging from recruitment, on-boarding and off-boarding, and learning and development to absence management, data management and retirement.

Through the right mix of artificial intelligence, robotics, CGI-developed intelligent automation IP, third-party tools and advanced analytics, we help our clients automate every day, high-volume, transaction-based tasks, freeing up skilled resources to engage in high-value work and increase productivity.

Whether it is working with software robots to make routine changes to employee information, reducing errors and freeing up team members to engage with employees and managers, or helping the business to build new operating models to implement technologies, including robotic process automation, to achieve greater accuracy, increased efficiency and higher satisfaction, we can help. Please reach out and connect and I’d be delighted to hear your challenges and experiences and look to explore how we can harness automation technologies to best meet your needs.

¹ https://www.softwaresuggest.com/blog/key-hr-statistics-2018/
² http://press.careerbuilder.com/2017-05-18-More-Than-Half-of-HR-Managers-Say-Artificial-Intelligence-Will-Become-a-Regular-Part-of-HR-in-Next-5-Years
³ https://www.efilecabinet.com/the-true-cost-of-paper-what-one-utility-company-spends-in-a-year/
https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180116005484/en/HR%E2%80%99s-Big-Challenge-2018-Fix-New-Hire
https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2011/03/08/994239/0/en/New-Hire-Onboarding-Standardization-and-Automation-Powers-Productivity-Gains.html
https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/the-organization-blog/human-resources-in-the-age-of-automation