Automation is all the rage. From ChatGPT and no-code tools to AI imagery and workflow automation, it seems like everywhere you turn there’s a new trend in automation.
But can automation support your employee engagement initiatives? Is there a way to use automation in your HR practices to not only remove menial tasks from HR’s plate, but actually improve employee engagement? We decided to find out by asking 15 HR industry experts.
So, how exactly are HR professionals weaving automation into their everyday work? Here’s how 15 HR executives answered the question, "Can you share the most effective ways automation improves employee engagement?"
Remembering Work Anniversary and Birthday Celebrations
“Did you know people decide to quit their jobs on their work anniversary or birthday more than almost any other day? They are days of self-reflection, so a company (and HR team) can't afford to ignore them.
If you want to improve employee engagement, automation can make this easy. Simply find a tool that automatically sends team members a ‘congratulations’ or ‘happy birthday’ note on their special day. Many tools can allow you to automatically include a gift card as part of the celebration as well.”
Optimizing the Payroll Process
“Automating payroll can improve employee engagement in several ways.
First, it reduces the likelihood of errors in paychecks, which can cause frustration and anxiety among employees. When employees are paid accurately and on time, it builds trust and confidence in their employer.
Also, automating payroll eliminates the need for manual data entry and paperwork, which both reduces the likelihood of errors and frees up time for HR to focus on other aspects of employee engagement, such as training and development, benefits, and recognition programs.
By streamlining the payroll process, businesses can provide their employees with a more efficient and hassle-free experience, so they can rest assured that we will pay them accurately and on time, every time.”
Increasing Creative Bandwidth
“Without a doubt, we improve employee engagement with automation by increasing the mental and creative bandwidth employees have.
Time spent on mindless and mundane tasks can feel like a waste of education, potential, and creativity, leaving employees feeling disengaged and undervalued. By providing the right automation tools, employees can re-engage with the newfound time and energy that was previously spent on repetitive tasks.”
Showing Their Impact On the Company
“One way automation improves employee engagement is through increased visibility into what is going on in the company. Automated systems can track progress, goals, results, and other metrics, giving everyone an idea of how their contributions are impacting the overall success of the organization they are working for.
This provides a level of motivation that encourages employees to stay engaged with their work, as they can see directly just how important it is—not just in terms of business success, but also in personal growth opportunities that come along with it.”
Shifting to More Challenging and Meaningful Work
“Repetitive, time-consuming tasks can make employees frustrated and bored with their job. They can make workers feel like their talents are being underutilized.
Automation can help simplify or eliminate these tasks altogether, freeing up time for employees to engage in more challenging and meaningful work. We can also use the extra time for upskilling, which can greatly impact employees' sense of growth and career development within the organization.”
Did you know? Formstack’s Digital Maturity report found that organizations who focus on removing inefficiencies through automation produce better employee experiences and improve retention.
Fostering Employee Bonding
“As a fully-remote team that will never return to the office, we encountered many challenges with employee engagement. Many people are not used to remote work quite yet and can often spend days not talking to anyone on their team while still doing their jobs incredibly well.
Since we use Slack for daily communication, we found several employee engagement add-ons that help us battle this issue. One of those add-ons makes introductions between two random team members every two weeks and encourages them to take some time and get to know each other, have virtual coffee together, and share stories.
Since we implemented this app, we found that many of our employees have become friends even outside of work and that they regularly meet ‘in real life,’ but also that they have become much more active in async communication.”
Reduce Frustrating Human Errors
“Automation reduces the opportunity for human errors to occur. Those errors cost employees extra time as they uncover, assess, and correct them, which can quickly degrade engagement.
Imagine spending half your workday unable to move forward on a project because you're fixing a mundane issue—that irritation and frustration make it challenging to remain focused and positive for minutes, hours, and potentially days afterward.
If these errors happen often enough, you stop feeling engaged altogether. Automation uses machine processes that reduce the opportunity for errors to occur and displace our teams.
Help Your Team Feel Recognized and Appreciated
“Recently, we noticed that our research team—a group of brilliant analytical minds—was spending the bulk of their time on menial, repetitive tasks. Administrative work bogged them down. We wanted to give the team more space for the creative, impactful work they were passionate about. They wanted it too.
So, we talked about it, and we decided to automate. The team is now more engaged and motivated than ever before. Not only do they have more time for important tasks, but they also feel recognized and appreciated for their contributions. It was a win-win situation for everyone involved.”
Provide Immediate Support With Self-Service
“When we can create processes that are a part of the flow of work, people don't have to take the time to fill out a request and wait for their issue to be prioritized against who knows how many other requests.
Enabling people to self-service and find what they need, when they need it, enables them to continue on with their day without having to wait for someone else to solve the issue for them.
This obviously depends on the issue and the ability of the user to self-service, but with a lot of routine tasks, empowering employees to find what they need eliminates what would otherwise be viewed as an obstacle. When we enable this, we are showing trust, which is foundational to employee engagement.”
“Companies invest a lot of money in HR software tools, and they want those tools to help make employees' lives easier, and by extension, the HR team's lives easier too. A company can vastly improve its employee engagement and satisfaction by offering a well-automated HR system that has business rules and validations built right in.
For instance, if an employee wants to request leave, a well-automated system should be able to tell them what their leave balances are, prevent any requests that would create errors, and either automate or explain how the approval workflow will work.
Not only does the employee feel more empowered in this scenario, but the automations can prevent awkward conversations later on, where an employee thought a leave was approved, but then it needs to be revoked.”
Improve Remote Options
“As the leader of a remote-first company, I have seen firsthand the powerful impact that automated systems can have on employee engagement.
By leveraging automation, our team has put better remote working options in place, allowing us to operate more efficiently and with greater flexibility. Automation gives us better organization for our virtual meetings and makes it easier to collaborate on tasks among different teams spread across different time zones.
Additionally, automation takes away some of the burdens from manual data input and reporting, freeing up valuable energy from employees that can be directed toward creative problem-solving and building relationships with colleagues. In short, automation has truly enabled us to keep our employees engaged and motivated.”
Build a Streamlined Feedback System
“Manual collection and processing of employee feedback can be a heavy burden on HR departments and managers and can cause critical insights to be overlooked because of the overwhelming amount of feedback received.
Automated feedback systems can help streamline the collection and analysis process, allowing HR managers to identify areas where employees need improvement or support, and even leverage advanced technologies, such as AI, for sentiment analysis to understand the underlying reasons for feedback.
This can ultimately lead to more effective and employee-centric tactics for improving employee engagement.”
Get More Time to Focus On Complex Tasks
“AI and automation can handle most of your work, especially repetitive ones. It saves time for employees to focus on creativity. Businesses can grow faster than before when their employees focus on creativity because it attracts more customers. Do you know what more customers mean? More revenue.
Instead of focusing on the same repetitive tasks, employees can think about completing projects creatively. HR managers can focus on tasks like managing employee concerns, upskilling programs, improving employee engagement, organizing training, and talent acquisition if AI handles most of the work.
Ten hours per week of manual work can be reduced to two hours with the help of automation. Moreover, automation leads to higher employee productivity, faster time to market, and improved customer satisfaction.”
Solidify Job Security
“As a CEO, I believe that automation can help employees keep their jobs by making the organization more efficient and productive, which is the opposite of what people fear will happen. I think that this can make employees feel safer about their jobs and the future of the company, which can boost their confidence and get them more involved.”
Reduce Burnout and Enhance Productivity
“Automation has helped our employees improve engagement and satisfaction by preventing extreme burnout and enhancing productivity. The primary goal of our automation strategy is to help complete some of the common, repetitive, but crucial tasks that employees have to do every day.
This helps to free up time so that these professionals can engage in more meaningful work that they are actually passionate about. It also means that our employees can accomplish more while doing less. This has eventually led to increased productivity and helped reduce cases of extreme burnout in our organization.
Automation is also helping our organization to augment our resourceful team of employees with innovative new technologies. This is the future of work, and I expect it to become much more entrenched in corporate culture in the years ahead.”
Use Automation to Improve Employee Engagement
The consensus is clear: Automation definitely deserves a place in your HR processes. From making employees feel seen and heard to taking repetitive tasks off your plate, automation can play an extensive role in your employee engagement strategy. Now the questions is how will you start (or expand) the use of automation at your organization?
Want to see how leading organizations are simplifying work through the power of automation? Get your copy of our Workflow Inspiration Guide for Business Process Automation to see how HR teams across the world are using automation to improve their workday.
About the Author
Terkel was founded by Brett Farmiloe to provide a voice to uncelebrated small businesses. Terkel was officially launched on October 4, 2020. Today, Terkel places thousands of panelist insights into articles for brands through daily questions posed on terkel.io. Anyone can sign up for free and answer questions that are relevant to their experiences to get published and build expertise online.