We work with thousands of small businesses and nearly all of them come to us with the same fundamental problem. Time.
As businesses grow, HR admin workload increases. It’s inevitable. You quickly get to a point where HR can’t just live in your head anymore. Tasks that were simple when your team was small become complex and repetitive. Mistakes creep in (also inevitable), causing problems and taking up even more time.
Suddenly, it’s 1am and you’re staring blearily at a spreadsheet trying to work out what’s gone wrong.
Time is money, they say, and if you’re a growing small business, there’s never enough of it. So if this type of HR admin spiral sounds painfully familiar, maybe it’s time to think about HR automation.
What is automation?
Automation is where we use technology to carry out tasks or processes that would otherwise be done by a person. A recent study by Zapier found that it’s most commonly used in small businesses to reduce manual data entry tasks, like copying information from one place to another or updating spreadsheets.
This is no surprise to us. We’ve been helping our customers do exactly that in HR & Payroll since 2013.
So where can HR automation save time for small businesses?
Your people probably enjoy working for you. They might love their colleagues and the culture you’ve created. But their goodwill will not withstand repeated payroll mistakes or delays – which is a problem for small businesses, because manual payroll takes time and it’s prone to errors.
Overtime, unpaid leave, part time or full time shift patterns… there’s no need to manually calculate all this. Store all your people’s time and attendance information in a system – that automatically generates the payroll CSV file and integrates with your payroll provider – and payroll can be delivered error free with just a few clicks.
Staying on top of leave can be one of the biggest time sinks for small businesses. Keeping track of holiday booking, calculating and adjusting holiday allowance for people on part time – then recalculating when they work overtime.
Getting it wrong will not only leave you with an administrative headache, but it risks causing upset among your people if holiday is incorrectly allocated, or if – worst case scenario – you have to ask for an eagerly anticipated holiday to be cancelled because of an unforeseen clash.
By automating your leave booking process, people can log in and view their remaining holiday allowance, select their desired dates, then submit for approval. Then, as an admin, you’ll have all the information you need to decide whether to approve.
We know we have a window of opportunity when someone joins to make them feel like they belong. The first couple of months are when they’re most likely to leave, but there are certain tasks that should be done in those first weeks to help them settle effectively.
If you can find an onboarding process that works, automation will help you make it consistent and repeatable. You can automate the administrative tasks, like document sharing and form filling, then set reminders to ensure the more fun – and arguably more crucial – elements, like welcome lunches, one-to-ones, and team introductions aren’t forgotten.
And it doesn’t end with onboarding. The task of managing and developing people never really ends, it just changes. And automated reminders can ensure performance management catch-ups are consistently scheduled throughout that person’s employment.
You HR data can reveal important clues about the health and direction of your business. But who has time to measure and collate the information you need to spot absence trends, for instance, or to create a live infographic of key company snapshot information?
When all your HR information sits in the same system, automation makes this kind of reporting a task of moments rather than hours or days. Genuine reporting insight allows small businesses to make better strategic decisions, then measure their impact.
Staying abreast of regulations is a full-time job, but penalties for non-compliance can be anything from fines to jail time, so there’s plenty of incentive to make sure you do things properly. Compliance is unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to be inefficient.
Automation tools can eliminate unwelcome compliance surprises. Say, when action needs to be taken on document expiry, or when health and safety inspections are due. Or it could warn you if you’re at risk of breaching minimum wage regulations. A timely reminder on important compliance issues can save a whole heap of panic and keep you on the right side of the rules.
These are just a few of the ways automation helps small businesses save time and become more efficient at delivering high-quality HR. The value is more than just the massive amounts of time saved. Good people want to trust their employer, so being accurate and consistent on HR and Payroll is a crucial component in their experience of work.
Our cloud-based HR software automates many of the crucial HR tasks that take up time and stop you getting on with business.
The content of this blog is for general information only. Please don’t rely on it as legal or other professional advice as that is not what we intend. You can find more detail on this in our Terms of Website Use.
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