Have you ever heard someone lament how the “the robots are taking over?” Job seekers and HR professionals certainly have concern about the future of work, with Artificial Intelligence (AI) becoming a more significant part of our everyday lives. Saturday Night Live even predicted this 25 years ago, with a sketch offering life insurance against robot attacks.
To be fair, we are heading towards a more automated future and a transformed workplace. That’s no cause for panic, though. This simply means HR professionals need to determine how to best leverage automation for the right tasks, freeing time for higher-level, strategic thinking.
Payroll and time tracking are two obvious automation improvement opportunities, but I encourage HR professionals to think beyond these easy wins. Take a closer look at the repetitive tasks your team performs. These are the tasks that get pushed to the back burner and rushed to completion at the last minute. They’re tasks that are essential but are handled inconsistently, depending on which team member is addressing them. Inevitably, these are the tasks that should be quick, but end up taking far more time than your team wants to spend on them.
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No matter the industry, a company should establish benchmarks for setting goals and managing performance, analyzing the results and making adjustments as needed. While large organizations often have standardized tracking processes around benchmarks, I’ve learned many small and medium-sized businesses do not. Rather, they’ll host a discussion after the fact, and the key questions and issues that get addressed are never consistent. However, if a manager spots a red flag ahead of time, they can be proactive and tackle an issue head-on.
To avoid potential pitfalls, companies can create an automated, structured process. Here at Lucas Group, we track quarterly goals for employees via a tool called Cornerstone. This software platform notifies managers when their employees could potentially miss a milestone. Meanwhile, the employees track their performance on the Cornerstone dashboard. If the employee is doing well, managers can offer a greater sense of autonomy. But if they need to step in, they can do so easily, providing guidance before it’s too late.
Think back to your first day at your current job. What was it like? Were you greeted at the door by a smiling face, shown to your desk, and brought into trainings to get you started on the right foot? Or did a frazzled employee let you in after five minutes of standing at a locked door, the company didn’t have your email – or even a desk – set up, and you were left to figure things out on your own?
The latter situation is all too common, and it’s due to a lack of standardization around the onboarding process. Luckily, building a consistent program isn’t difficult. For instance, if a manager marks a candidate as “hired” in our HR tracking system, the candidate immediately receives an offer letter to sign electronically. Once they’ve signed the offer, IT and HR are notified automatically. The IT team receives a ticket to create email and network credentials, and the HR team sends a welcome kit to the new hire. Calendar invites are automatically sent and updated– all before the hire steps foot in our office. The impact of automation on employment can help turn those first day jitters into a sense of comfort and set everyone up for success.
Though we’d like all of our employees to have long, fruitful careers, there comes a time to say goodbye. An employee’s final day should be as smooth as the first. Ensuring a positive exit leaves the door open for referrals, professional collaborations, or the possibility of a “boomerang employee” returning down the road.
Take a page from your onboarding process and bring automation in the workplace for offboarding, too. The process should begin as soon as your employee puts in their two-week notice. Finalizing transition documents, exit interviews and team wrap-up meetings all need to take place. Meanwhile, consider the other tasks that must be done across HR and IT teams, including removing network credentials, archiving key files and collecting office supplies. Other employees may be experiencing conflicted feelings about a colleague’s departure. Keep those emotions in check with an established protocol.
Instead of bracing for the robot apocalypse, HR professionals should learn ways to apply automation in the workforce. Automating tasks like performance management, onboarding and offboarding empowers your employees to have the best possible experience at your company. You and your team, in turn, get the gift of time: you can focus on big-picture strategy initiatives rather than scrambling to track down IT for an employee email set up.