Automation in HR: Getting out of the Paperwork Quagmire

What’s the biggest complaint heard from HR managers across the country? It’s not the people. It’s not the interviews. It’s the paperwork. Reams of paperwork per employee. It’s true: we want to reduce environmental waste. There is no reason why we need to use the paper. But the complaints aren’t about the paper. It’s about the work behind all that paper. It’s the number of man-hours wasted trying to get that paper from point A to point B, signed, then from point B back to point A. And it’s the multiplier: how much does each of those man-hours cost? So, let’s talk automation: where you are, where you need to be, and how to get there.

Recruitment & Interviewing

Even the best HR departments at the most forward-looking institutions struggle with data collection and scheduling around bringing-in new talent. When a position opens, so does the flood of applications, interview scheduling, and internal preparation. Standalone ATS systems intended to solve this problem – and on the paperwork side they helped. But in the transition from applications to interviews, the systems falls down and falls down hard. You are able to screen the applicants, but once you have the interview group identified, the inevitable email barrage starts. Emails go out to the applicants. Emails go out to the internal interviewers. Scheduling. Rescheduling. More emails. And in the middle of it all? The HR professional.

So, how do you automate this process? It’s simple: you use one (SAAS) system. Applicants get notifications from the system. Interviews get scheduled in the system. HR oversees it all, but they don’t need to do the manual grunt work. You save hours in the process. HR is more effective. Everybody wins.


Onboarding is the most paperwork-intensive phase of the employee lifecycle, and it’s one that traditional systems don’t handle well. I-9’s, W-2’s, payroll forms, the employee handbook – all are necessary, and all need attention on the part of your HR staff.

Automation improves the onboarding process from the moment the new hire signs the contract. The system generates and sends I-9’s and W-2’s. It adds your new team member to your firm’s payroll. It generates any custom forms you need, and they electronically sign the documentation. This is all handled without manual intervention, and what was once a paper quagmire becomes a literal push of a button.

Employee Management

So you have a new employee. They’re working. They’re happy. They’re productive. But even the happiest and most productive workers need a system that supports them. So, what do they do when they need copies of their quarterly reviews? Call HR. What do they do when they need to discuss benefits? Call HR. What do they do when they want to review your companies FMLA policies? Call HR. In the vast majority of cases, these situations are much better handled by the employees themselves. And in the vast majority of cases, the employees want to handle these situations on their own. The fix? Automation. Your HR professionals exist to handle the edge cases. The hard stuff. But the daily stuff? A good system handles it for you. Employees are happy. You’re happy. That’s the magic of automation.

Automation in HR isn’t new

If you’re an HR professional, you’ve heard all of this before. Automation has been around in bits and pieces for years. We agree, it’s not new. But why isn’t true automation more commonplace? Two reasons: cost concerns and inertia.

True Automation in HR is still a rarity

We’re still at a point where companies are willing to throw bodies at a problem rather than change. Cost wise, it still makes sense because of the outrageous costs of these integrated systems. But that’s changing. The costs of integrated systems are coming down. More HR professionals are seeing integrated systems as necessary to have vs. nice to have. While too many companies to this day still rely on ancient methods and mounds of paperwork, true automation is getting there.

How do you do it right? We like our approach: one system that handles the entire employee lifecycle with experts at the ready when the need arises. Our goal is to bring the 90 pieces of paper per employee that flow to and from HR down to 0. And it’s not a pipe dream. We’re doing this, today, with companies all over the country.

True Automation is Attainable

Our clients each save thousands of dollars every year all because they escaped the independent ATS, Payroll, and Benefit silos. HR is easier for them, and the integration once available only to the largest of companies is now available to companies of any size. Because something exists doesn’t mean that it’s used. We are trying to change that, one client at a time. But you don’t have to dive right in. We understand that to change a process as all-encompassing as HR, you need to have a good reason. So here’s where we would start:

  1. Take one recently hired employee and figure out every piece of paper they’ve been given
  2. Figure out who on your HR team participated in the delivery or analysis of that paperwork
  3. Talk to that person and figure out the process they used around that piece of paper
  4. Investigate how (if?) your system handles that situation in an automated way and implement it

Different companies are going to have different pain points. Maybe your interview process is cumbersome. Can your ATS automate it? Can your employees request PTO without using email? See if your system can notify HR on their behalf. Many systems do these things, but many companies don’t use those features.

But, if you’re finding that your system isn’t up to the task of performing modern HR, call us. We’ve seen it all, and we can help you do it better.