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Future-proofing your business with automation

Future-proofing your business with automation

from  March 8, 2021 | 5 min read

Future-proofing your business with automation

Covid-19 has highlighted the crucial role that human resources (HR) managers play in times of crisis. Throughout this time, they’ve facilitated the safe transition of the workforce to remote work, ensured employee health and well-being during mentally taxing periods, and redesigned company work policies to support organization-wide changes.

All of this while processing paperwork and keeping up with the ever-changing regulations caused by Covid-19.

Now that we’ve all moved on to remote work setups and digitally connected teams, HR managers must now reimagine the future of the workplace: how can they foster talent, deliver services, and strengthen their organization against future unknowns? The answer lies in technology.

Strategies for future-proofing business

1. Automate HR functions across the board

One of the biggest lessons learned during this pandemic is the importance of digitalization in future-proofing businesses.

For a long time, HR managers feared that automation would spell the end of their careers, but the pandemic only emphasized the urgency of automating business processes. Suddenly, all eyes were on HR. Employees needed answers on whether there would be a hiring freeze. Managers wanted to make sure that employees could communicate effectively online. Without automation, HR leaders had to divide their time between urgent, core duties and mandatory administrative tasks.

By automating repetitive HR functions, HR managers are better able to focus on the matter at hand, knowing that administrative duties are taken care of with minimal errors and utmost accuracy. No need to worry about keeping track of ever-changing regulations and remaining compliant.

Not only that—automation also future-proofs the business. Employees in Malaysia stated that digitalization, openness to change, and flexibility were all key in preparing their organization for the future. Automation also allows HR managers to begin developing the skills required to thrive in an increasingly tech-based world. By automating HR functions, they can start reaping the benefits like using data analytics and evidence-based insights to make better business decisions. This is crucial for the future of employee engagement and talent hiring.   

Automation doesn’t eliminate jobs, but rather, job functions—particularly those that humans are naturally more inefficient at.

2. Digitalize the hiring process

Covid-19 has also changed the way HR leaders hire and screen candidates. Now that remote work is the new normal, companies may also explore the idea of hiring remote workers beyond the borders of their country headquarters. This brings about new opportunities, like wider talent pools and reduced business costs. However, if you’re hiring at scale you will likely run into challenges.

For one thing, it’s impossible to conduct face-to-face interviews, which are the go-to tool to evaluate candidate attitudes because of the plethora of verbal and non-verbal cues. You’ll likely  be receiving a lot more applications since your scope will be broader, resulting in longer processing times. Then, time-zone differences make it difficult to find a common time for a video interview.

Technology like artificial intelligence and machine learning can streamline this process by pooling in talents from multiple sources, narrowing down the resulting list, then screening shortlisted applicants through a predefined series of questions. This saves you time filtering out candidates that are an obvious mismatch for your company.

This is also a good opportunity to re-evaluate your hiring process in line with new norms and standards. How inclusive is your hiring process? Are you hiring solely based on CVs or are you taking into consideration other important factors, like attitude and aligned visions?

The last year or so has been one of immense change. Covid-19 was highly stressful, but that wasn’t the only impactful event. Take the Black Lives Matters movement, for example, which caused employers around the world to pay more attention to diversity. On a more local scale, Singapore’s Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment (TAFEP) recently made it illegal for companies to request that job applicants disclose mental health disorders. This practice was seen to be discriminatory and invasive.

In light of all these changes, you can use technology to make your hiring process more fair and inclusive. For example, you could leverage blind hiring by anonymizing candidates, or use your hiring technology to obscure or ignore demographic-related details.

3. Create a culture of flexibility

Flexible work arrangements are here to stay. A survey commissioned by The Straits Times revealed that eight out of 10 workers in Singapore prefer working from home or having flexible work arrangements. Another study found that nine in 10 employees across southeast asia are expecting Covid-related policy changes like flexi-hours and work-from-home to be made permanent.

This means that HR managers need to cultivate a culture of flexibility, even after the pandemic. Providing more flexibility could mean a number of things, like:

  • Allowing flexible work hours for employees with children at home

  • Offering flexible work arrangements on an ongoing basis

  • Staggering employee shifts

  • Rotating days or weeks of in-office presence

While these are great solutions for employee work-life-balance, flexible work arrangements will increase HR managers’ workloads. It can be harder to track and monitor work efficiency and productivity. Calculating employee salaries poses another challenge, especially if employees are paid on an hourly basis or occasionally punch in overtime. Asynchronous communication, robust documentation, and new policies will be necessary to make this work.

Luckily, cultivating a culture of flexibility is easy with digitalization. By automating payroll, HR managers can ensure that hours and leaves are calculated accurately, and that employees are always paid on time and the right amount. No miscommunications nor added effort on anyone’s part.

HR managers can also use technology to create a more accommodating online environment. For example, you could build a virtual toolkit that serves as a single resource for employees to understand the organization better and to manage all their administrative information. This makes it easier for those who are still learning the ropes with remote work to get on board.

4. Use data to reassess your current processes

If you want to future-proof your business, you need data. After all, you can’t improve something you can’t measure. Data can help you understand:

  • Processes that work versus those that don’t

  • Employee performance and engagement

  • Promotions and salary decisions

  • Attrition and retention rates

This data can be used to understand how your processes can be improved for the new normal and beyond. For example, you can use this data to predict resources you might need in the future if you plan on expanding to different markets or building another office. You can also use this data to better understand your workforce—whether they’re having trouble coping with work from home arrangements or struggling with proper communication.

All of these data and insights can be used to make better decisions and improve the way the business runs. Especially during a period of difficulty and declining mental wellbeing, HR leaders need to understand how employees tick. This will help you find different ways to engage and retain employees.

One step ahead of the next crisis

Covid-19 was the very definition of a black swan event: a highly unpredictable event with severe consequences, and it won’t be the last one, either. HR managers need to leverage technology to ensure their business is better prepared to navigate unforeseen changes in the future.

If you’re looking for an end-to-end HR solution that can help you future-proof your business, Unit4 can help you with that. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how an HRMS is a critical asset in future-proofing your business.


Unit4 Prosoft

Unit4 Prosoft have been serving customers in Asia for 30 years and is trusted by over 1,000 businesses across the APAC region in the manufacturing, healthcare, retail, construction, and professional services industries. Unit4 Prosoft HRMS has modules that support every aspect of your HRMS programs and allows you to manage people’s entire hire-to-retire cycle with a central control center and database. Your people get the flexibility and freedom to have what they need—how, when and where they need it.