Can Human Resources be automated?


Everywhere you look, you are confronted with technology and IT systems. It seems that there isn’t a single aspect of our modern lives that hasn’t been taken over by a computer system or an app. But is it realistic to computerise and automate everything to do with the human experience, such as the management of human resources?

People are complex, and so are the issues, emotions and conflicts that fill our lives. It would be rather impossible to design a computer model that could automate and control the very things that make us human. However, there are certain aspects of the management of Human Resources that can be automated – especially those aspects that deal with rules, regulations, policies and predictable variables, such as Payroll.

Benefits of Automation

HR systems are management solutions that are designed to create order from complex issues. Such systems are usually deployed through secure inter-/ intranet, smart phones, tablets and kiosks, giving each employee and manager access to appropriate information.

Such systems are usually supplied with a set of ‘best-practice’ functions that are intended to offer guidance and a good starting point. However, computer software needs to be tailored to fit an organisation’s existing processes and workflows before it is implemented. Best-practice solutions do not always fit an organisation’s culture and unique set of circumstances, so management must make sure that substantial effort is put into the analysis and tailoring of such an automated system.

Standard processes such as leave requests, expense claims and performance assessments can be effectively triggered and managed through technology, as can the collation of performance data and other triggers in the business environment. Standard processes can also be deployed for relevant exception reporting that highlights specific opportunities, needs or shortfalls. Such process workflows can go a long way in optimising the management of Human Resources and the quality and speed of performance data. Modern businesses are well advised to invest an appropriate amount of time in the analysis of where such opportunities exist in their own context.

Using technology effectively provides a number of very real and tangible benefits, such as:

  • Relieving the administrative burden from the HR Department
  • Improving reporting accuracy
  • Speeding up reporting turn-around time
  • Simplification of compliance with BBBEE, Employment Equity, Seta and SDL
  • Identification and management of risks
  • Succession planning becomes easier
  • Organisational design opportunities can be identified
  • Health and Safety risks can be effectively and timeously identified and addressed
  • Training plans become targeted and effective
  • Policy compliance can be monitored
  • Everything becomes possible once trends can be tracked for each business unit

Bringing the Human Element to Automation

Management cannot rely solely on computer systems to manage people. The human factor plays an important role in order for a person to grow and perform at their peak, so this aspect of the HR function must not be neglected.

The implementation of automation and technology into the HR Department should serve the purpose of gathering meaningful data, speedy and accurate reporting, as well as enforce compliance with workflow processes. But the purpose of all of this must be to free up the HR Department to manage the exceptions, work with the employees involved and provide the very HUMAN services that it was intended to do in the first place.


Automation of HR processes should be treated as essential by all employers, but it should be accompanied by the appropriate human management as well. If you would like further information or guidance with this, please make contact with us and we will do our best to assist you.

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