5 Essential Automation Tools Every HR Manager Must Have

Learn how HR automation tools can make life easier for both HR teams and other employees.

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5 Essential Automation Tools Every HR Manager Must Have
Are your HR processes still manual?

Here's what you need to know:

  • HR scheduling tools help you make the best of employees' time
  • Automate time tracking to eliminate errors and save time
  • Automation reduces various People Operations headaches
  • Avoid mistakes with payroll and cut costs with automated processes
  • Manual benefits administration can lead to headaches and plenty of mistakes

The human resources function has come a long way — and automation is one of the most valuable aspects of this evolution. HR automation uses software to digitize repetitive, time-consuming manual processes to:

  • Increase efficiency
  • Streamline workflows
  • Reduce errors

A great many employers are catching on to the importance of HR automation, and adoption is expected to keep rising. Per a 2021 report, the global HR software market is projected to increase 12.2% from 2021 to 2028.

So, if you’re still running your HR department via paper-intensive systems, it’s time to seriously consider HR automation.

But as an HR manager, what should you automate?

The majority of HR processes can (and should) be automated.

The good news is that the vast majority of HR processes can be automated, either fully or partially. Research found that only these 5 may not be suitable for automation:

  • HR and business strategy
  • Building a high-performance work system
  • Change management
  • Employee relations
  • Organizational effectiveness

You can likely automate all other HR tasks to some degree. To help you determine what to  automate, we narrowed down the essentials to the following 5:

  1. Scheduling
  2. Time tracking
  3. HR/People operations
  4. Payroll
  5. Benefits

Let’s take an up-close look at each of these HR automation tools.

1. Scheduling

Scheduling is about planning the times when employees are required to perform their work duties. Basically, it deals with who will do what, when, and where.

When done right, scheduling helps you make the best use of employees’ time. And when done wrong, the results can be damaging. As stated in a Zenefits report, “Managers waste 140 hours a year manually creating schedules for their employees.”

Managers waste 140 hours a year manually creating schedules for their employees.

In addition:

  • Employees say they waste 50% of their time at work when their schedules are inconsistent.
  • As many as 35% of employees aged 18-25 think they have inconsistent work schedules, and half of them leave their employer for that reason.
  • Not having enough employees to cover shifts puts undue pressure on existing employees and makes them vulnerable to burnout.
  • Not having employees with the appropriate skills for the job slows down productivity.
  • As your company grows, scheduling gets more complicated.
  • Predictive scheduling laws are becoming more common at the local level.

Mitigate risks by automating your scheduling practices

For example, Zenefits scheduling tool lets you:

  • Create and edit shifts for all employees
  • Inform employees when a new scheduled is set
  • Block out dates to work around individual schedules
  • Develop schedules around roles or times, whichever you prefer
  • Monitor employee activity in real-time
  • Manage PTO requests
  • Stay compliant with scheduling laws

2. Time tracking

Manual time tracking can be a waste of time, especially when there are systems that can automate it for you.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says 55.5% of all U.S. workers were paid hourly in 2020. If you’re one of the many employers with hourly workers, then you’re required by law to track their work time. However, manually tracking employees’ time is not advised, as it can lead to time theft and other problems. One survey found that time theft impacts 75% of businesses and up to 7% of their gross annual payroll.

Downsides to manual time tracking:

  • Unscrupulous employees may report more hours than they worked, on paper timecards.
  • Employees might not remember their exact arrival and departure times.
  • Employees may forget to take meal periods and rest breaks into account.
  • Timekeeping mistakes, leading to incorrect wages, governmental audits, wage-and-hour complaints or lawsuits, and penalties.

Eliminate threats by automating your time-tracking system

For instance, Zenefits time tracking tool offers the following:

  • Time tracking for employees, freelancers, and contractors
  • Desktop and mobile apps so employees can work from anywhere
  • Ability to record employees’ clock-in location so you can see when (and from where) they start and stop working
  • On-premise terminal for clocking in and out
  • Timecard fraud protection
  • Real-time reporting so you can allocate resources more effectively
  • Built-in compliance to keep you compliant with time and attendance laws

3. HR/People Ops

With the world of work rapidly changing, manual systems are not equipped to handle today’s HR environment. In other words, HR automation is no longer an option, it’s a necessity.

According to a 2020 survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, “What used to be a slow-moving corporate technology space a decade ago is now a $148 billion market of HR cloud solutions to address the needs for the future of work.” 

The labor market is constantly shifting, remote work is growing at warp speed, employment laws have become more expansive, and employers must find ways to retain top performers while remaining competitive in their industry. This is all too complex for the pen-and-paper approach.

Make things simpler by automating your HR/People Ops processes

Here’s how Zenefits HR minimizes people operations headaches:

  • Compensation package development. Automatically sends job offers to selected candidates
  • Fast, comprehensive background checks done directly through the platform
  • Employees can self-onboard online via digital new-hire forms and signatures
  • Access to automated workflows, employee management, document management, company handbooks, and PTO policy creation
  • Compensation management to help you understand your talent costs and set competitive salaries
  • Tools for performance reviews, one-on-one meetings, and goal management
  • Solutions to enhance collaboration and communication among employees

4. Payroll

Your employees expect to be paid accurately and on time, and likely won’t tolerate paycheck errors, especially if they happen more than once. But that’s the outcome you’ll probably get if you’re doing payroll manually.

Automate your payroll so you don’t end up with paycheck errors, and ultimately, unhappy employees.

Running payroll manually can cause:

  • Dissatisfied employees
  • Wage-and-hour complaints and lawsuits
  • Governmental penalties
  • Scattered payroll workflows
  • Lack of synchronization across related departments like HR and benefits
  • No employee self-service
  • Payroll data insecurity

For more on these consequences, see “Stop Trying to Run Payroll Yourself — Here’s What Can Go Wrong.”

Avoid mistakes by automating your payroll processes

The American Payroll Association estimates automation cuts payroll processing costs by 80% and reduces errors in invoices and paychecks.

For example, Zenefits payroll lowers payroll costs in four critical ways:

  1. Payroll administration. Includes direct deposit, gross-to-net calculations, multiple schedules, and pay rates, garnishment support, tip reporting, and pay stubs.
  2. Payroll taxes. Includes employee and employer tax calculations, payroll tax deposits, payroll tax filings, and W-2 processing.
  3. Employee self-service. Allows employees to retrieve paycheck information on their own plus update their W-4, direct deposit, and other payroll forms.
  4. Payroll reporting. Includes labor distribution reports, payroll expense reports, general ledger reporting, payroll summaries, payroll registers, and wage and tax summaries.

5. Benefits

Offering affordable, competitive benefits is key to attracting, engaging, and retaining high-performing employees. However, the benefits landscape has grown more complicated in recent years, as employers compete for top talent.

Nowadays, benefits administration is a full-time job that consists of:

  • Designing benefits packages
  • Determining eligibility
  • Creating plan documents
  • Benchmarking benefits
  • Distributing benefits documents to employees
  • Enrolling new hires in benefits programs
  • Educating employees on their benefits choices
  • Communicating benefits changes to employees
  • Keeping up with employee life changes impacting eligibility
  • Executing open enrollment
  • Performing benefits plan audits
  • Filing benefits reports with the government
  • Complying with federal and state benefits laws
  • Processing benefits for terminated employees
  • Monitoring benefits costs
  • Interacting with benefits providers

Doing all this manually invites an army of mistakes.

Keep errors at bay by automating your benefits processes

You should automate benefits administration because it:

  • Allows employees to self-enroll in benefits. Studies show that self-enrollment costs $22 per employee, compared to $110 when HR manually does the enrollment.
  • Decreases time spent on open enrollment, cutting a 2-3 month process in half.
  • Enables employees to make side-by-side comparisons of their health insurance options, so they can more easily understand the costs and choices available to them.
  • Improves benefits engagement and the quality of your benefits program.
  • Helps you determine which benefits to offer and which ones to scale back on.
  • Makes legal compliance easier to reach. See “How HR Automation Can Help With Benefits Compliance.”

Zenefits not only simplifies benefits administration but also helps you find the most suitable plans for your employees.

Don’t just automate, integrate as well

By automating and integrating scheduling, time tracking, HR, payroll, and benefits, you can reap significant savings in the long run.

As stated in a 2019-2020 report, “Elevating the perception of HR and investing in specific approaches to HR Technology strategy, integration, and change management correlate to 15% year-over-year increases in overall HR, Talent, and Business outcomes.”

To begin automating and integrating your HR-related processes, check out the Zenefits all-in-one platform.

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