Sarah’s Corner: How to Use Workflow Automation to Re-Imagine Your Processes

Companies have to empower and rally their employees now more than ever. How can we re-think existing HR processes?

by Sarah Koller, SHRM-CP. People Operations Manager @ GoCo

Hi, I’m Sarah! And I do HR for an HR software company. You’d think it’d be easy, but I’m new-ish to the HR world and every day is an adventure. This blog series is an attempt to peel back the layers of daily operations of a small HR department – of one – and the company it works to support.
Sarah Koller, People Operations Specialist ∙ GoCo

If you’ve opened anything about HR or people management in the last few months you’ve been bombarded with notes about how to capitalize this crisis as a way to elevate HR. Josh Bersin recently wrote about HR’s Role in Crisis: Creating a Sense of Trust where he says, “The pandemic actually represents an opportunity.” There are also nudges about creating and embracing a digital transformation, but in our current state of being constantly overwhelmed what does it all actually mean?

Shake it Up a Bit

Here’s what I’m thinking – we get a blank canvas to revamp, try something new, and even fail. Because, to be fair, we haven’t dealt with a crisis like this before. As we think through the processes we used to do because they were just good enough, we realize we may have ditched the important for the immediate. Right now we can’t do things the way they were done before.

There was a great article in the SHRM spring magazine called “Freedom Through Robots” where Dave Zielinski says, “Industry experts say improvements in user-friendliness of the technology as well as a growing desire to free HR staff from manual tasks allows them to pursue work that adds more value to the organization.” He wrote this article before the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic hit us.

Let the Robots Do the Tasks So You Can Do Your Job

Introducing – GoCo workflows. From HR’s own concern that automating the function can make their position obsolete, to management not seeing the values, there are internal and external challenges. That also rests on us as HR to not present the value successfully. Looking in the data driven age and measuring people engagement is hard, or harder. But finding a metric you can rely on is key to making the case for more human interaction in human resources.

Re-Imagine Your Processes

I’d like to stress that while taking your typical checklist and dropping it into workflows is going to help, you aren’t necessarily unlocking the full magic of the workflow. Give yourself the chance to rethink all your processes, and to try something new.

Did you know when you get distracted it takes 25 mins to get back on track? Gloria Mark, University of California, Irvine studied this. Okay – so 8 hrs in a day, 480 minutes, 25 min to get back to a task. That’s only 20 interruptions — I think most HR peeps can agree that usually happens before noon.

Now, a decent amount of my task lists live in GoCo workflows- pre-arrival checklist, orientation, onboarding. Even professional development opportunity requests, fringe benefits, and supplies ordering. Those last ones give me another category for our workflow use – anything that needs approvals. While we aren’t printing memos anymore the endless emails or slack messages back and forth to get approvals are just as disruptive, even if they don’t waste trees.

Adding automation gives me time to focus on more immediate needs of our employees. At GoCo we are constantly looking for ways to support mental health, to provide and remind everyone of the resources we have. Automating workflows means I have more time for these types of initiatives. Now that we are remote and adapting to our new normal, we are finding creative ways to recreate the casual interactions in the office through programming.

Empower Your Workforce

Companies have to empower and rally their employees now more than ever. Going digital allows you to stretch your HR team to do more, which can connect employees to your mission and aid in a better workforce. As you’re looking at what the future looks like, now is the time to build-in your technology needs. Since this is such uncharted territory you can get some great tools to back up your strategic initiatives.

Webinar about HR Workflows on Thursday, July 16:
Join us for a mini-virtual summit where we’ll dive into how HR pros can automate their HR processes and set their businesses up for success to be able to quickly adapt to whatever is thrown their way.
Sign up here: https://www.goco.io/blog/pandemic-proof-hr-process-webinar/

As GoCo’s People Operations Manager, Sarah is on a mission to make GoCo the best place to work in Houston. She’s responsible for attracting, recruiting, and retaining the awesome humans behind GoCo, and developing programs and policies that protect and nurture the company’s core values and culture.

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