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HR 2.0: How Smart Automation Can Spur a New Wave of Best Practices for Human Resources Professionals

Albert Rees, SVP and Head of Business Consulting, EPAM Systems, Inc.Albert Rees, SVP and Head of Business Consulting, EPAM Systems, Inc.
If working through the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it's that most tasks in the modern workplace can be done from just about anywhere. But as we look toward creating true work-life balance beyond COVID, it's time to start looking past the simpler ideas about where work gets done, and start thinking about when it gets done, why it needs to be done, and by whom. Human Resources may seem like a department that is off-limits to any automation potential however that is far from the truth.

According to a latest study done by Bersin, nearly 40% of companies are using some form of AI in HR alone. Human Resources provides a great amount of intelligent automation opportunities such as data ingestion to increase efficiencies in the hiring process to eliminating human error by applying RPA when calculating payrolls. HR is a great place to test-drive these types of technologies in the workplace because the technology can provide tangible and immediate value to HR professionals.

Most HR departments spend a lot of time doing work that, while undoubtedly important, is exactly the type of process-based work that can – and probably should – be done using automation. This could be something as simple as payroll and could also be used to improve and expedite certain parts of the employee onboarding process. By integrating intelligence-based automation into certain processes such as reviewing incoming resumes, additional time for human resource employees can be made available so they have more time to focus on cognitive matters. Either way, the ability to automate these types of tasks will also help free up HR professionals to deal with their human coworkers in areas where they can do the most good.

During COVID, we've used technology mostly to maintain some semblance of the workplace many of us were forced to abandon. The output goal of the automation in terms of the technology itself and in terms of how it could be used to create a more efficient workplace is to:

● Automate Tasks
● Improve Communication
● Streamline Onboarding and Training
Cassidy Reid, Manager of Intelligent Automation Consulting, EPAM Systems, Inc.
We tend to think of intelligent automation in fairly lofty terms.

IA's real benefits are less sci-fi and more simple automation. In an office setting, automation can take the form of a relatively simple automated personal assistant to help employees schedule meetings, set reminders, and even cross-reference colleagues' schedules to suggest the best potential meeting time for all involved. And well, if you're lucky enough that those meetings start to become emails, IA can help employees filter, sort and organize their inboxes for maximum efficiency.

Of course, there's still no substitute for a human being when it comes to effectively communicating with employees – but that doesn't mean those humans can't get a little help from their robotic colleagues. In some cases, that can mean IA-enabled chatbots, not much different from those employees encounter every day when they shop online. These chatbots can be deployed as part of the company intranet and through email or even text messages to answer employees' most frequently asked questions. And when it comes across a question it can't answer, it will seek out the person who can, which will in turn allow the bot to continue learning and add to its knowledge base.

Automation can also play a substantial role in helping companies streamline their communications efforts with people who aren't even employees yet. According to Entelo, 61% of talent acquisition professionals believe recruiting automation can help reduce unconscious bias within their hiring process. Intelligent Automation enabled systems can help filter candidates, set up interviews and even generate offer letters. Once a new hire has accepted an offer, IA can play a very important role in helping new employees hit the ground running by automating significant portions of the onboarding process, which not only makes that process faster but also provides a level of consistency that's crucial to effective HR practices.

As intelligent automation begins to play a larger role in not only the HR department but also the entire workplace, employees can focus on tasks that add meaningful value to the business. Therefore, the shift caused by automation will increase employee satisfaction and ultimately drive better results for the organization. Automating tasks, refining communication and streamlining training are at the crux of developing the next normal for sustainable productivity.
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