Small business human resources departments are turning to automation as they look to boost efficiency and attain hiring and recruitment goals, according to an airSlate survey of 355 HR professionals that was conducted in partnership with Propeller Insights.
The survey included HR leaders from industries including banking, construction, manufacturing, retail, and education, among other sectors.
The report, titled "Automation: The Key to Driving HR Orgs Forward," found half of HR teams surveyed are tapping automation to aid in hiring talent, with 44% of respondents saying it is for this purpose that they plan to adopt automation in the next year.
"Decision-makers across industries are planning for the year ahead with eyes on an economic downturn on the horizon," said Shawn Herring, CMO at airSlate. "Technology will be under scrutiny in 2023 as decision-makers have to prove each line item of the budget. But our findings show promise that the intent to invest in automation is there and is resonating as an HR business need."
The research found new talent acquisition and recruitment is the top investment priority for SMB HR teams in the year ahead, he said.
Workflow Automation Could Result in Significant Time Savings
More than three quarters of HR teams plan to double their investment in workflow automation technologies by 2024, the report projects, which could help reduce the five to 12 hours per week 70% of respondents said they spend on manual paperwork.
The findings also revealed that HR teams are looking to extend automation capabilities into areas including new hire paperwork — cited by half of respondents — as well as workforce management operations including turnover analysis and industry trends.
Respondents are also looking to apply automation technologies to internal employee communications (41%), benefits enrollment (38%), and performance reviews (39%), according to the survey.
Automation Stumbling Blocks Include Budgetary, Integration Issues
Despite the broad interest in automation adoption and the positive results (95% of respondents said there was an increase in their team's efficiency and a positive impact on how the teams work), budgetary constraints and integration issues are seen as potential stumbling blocks on the road to adoption.
In addition, 12% cited lack of prioritization from leadership as the biggest challenge in their automation and digital transformation journeys, while nearly three in 10 (28%) said limitations of the technology in addressing required needs was the top adoption barrier.
"Traditionally, it's been expensive and difficult to prioritize automation," Herring said. "Large enterprises have an advantage over SMBs when it comes to tech adoption amid their access to resources and enough budget to explore various tools and hire team members to implement those tools. However, that's changing thanks to innovations in technology and easier-to-use tools."
HR teams will continue to rely on automation tools to help address their workflows, he said.
"I see AI playing an increasingly important role in talent sourcing," he added. "In addition, tools that support upskilling and reskilling of existing workers will become increasingly important to HR teams."
Finally, Herring said he expects new categories of tools — including internal talent marketplaces that can tap into and match employee aspirations with corporate goals — to continue to gain momentum.
"The concept of having to do more with less is not novel, but priorities and scope are shifting into and beyond 2023," he said. "Leaders will need to be laser-focused on prioritization."
Amidst an ever-growing IT skills gap, enterprises are crunched for talent, while juggling budget cuts, heightened productivity KPIs, and a lack of qualified talent.
In 2023, enterprises will rely on AIOps-driven automation to bridge the gap and enable them to deliver autonomous workspaces, simplifying IT administration and reducing dependency on skilled IT labor.
Automation is seen as a potential solution for businesses of all sizes that must become more efficient, while certain applications for automation can help retain skilled staff.
Retaining skilled workers in 2023 will be difficult, perhaps as difficult as it was to hire them, according to a recent ITPro Today interview with Peter Kreslins, CTO of Digibee, which develops a low-code enterprise integration platform.
"To make these hires happy, enterprises must get rid of redundant and time-consuming tasks, leveraging capabilities such as automation and AI-assisted decision-making, which will be critical in maintaining and even increasing productivity with a smaller workforce," Kreslins said.
About the authorNathan Eddy is a freelance writer for ITPro Today. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.