Bill Venteicher headshot
Bill VenteicherJune 20, 2024
Topics: High-Volume Hiring

Workflow Automation: A Complete Guide

If you're heading up HR or you're in the exec suite, you know all too well the headaches that come with upgrading your tech. Whether it's integrating new tools into your current stack, slimming down your existing stack, or making your processes more efficient, it's no small feat. These upgrades are key for reducing hassle, saving precious time, and boosting efficiency, but they're not without their challenges — think securing the funds, steering through change, and keeping your data safe while you're upping your analytics and compliance capabilities.

A recent study shows that HR automation has grown around 235% since 2022, making it an essential investment and a valuable tool for many organizations. This piece will help to demystify HR automation for you and show you just how it can revamp your recruitment and HR operations. With a more complete understanding of this technology, you’ll be prepared to create a plan that aligns with your company's goals, paving the way for a smoother rollout and top-notch results.

This article covers the perks of workflow automation, gives examples of how to use it, and shares some ways you can bring in new HR tech to boost your department's impact and efficiency.

In This Article

    What Is Workflow Automation?

    Workflow automation is a technology that automatically completes various business processes to enhance efficiency and accuracy. Its primary purpose is to reduce the manual handling of tasks such as data entry, document management, and complex decision-making processes so teams can focus on more strategic activities. Particularly for HR departments, workflow automation transforms recruitment, onboarding, and talent management into seamless, integrated processes, significantly reducing cycle times, errors, duplication of work, and operational costs.

    Modern workflow automation can be set up by teams with little or no coding or software development skills needed. You determine the rule-based logic of the steps your automation platform will perform, and then, often with a simple visual interface, you build the steps and process for each outcome you want your automation to accomplish.

    You design the process or even use a pre-built template just one time, and then the tools follow those rules over and over —only requiring interaction from a person on your team at the moments you define. With this simple approach, almost anyone can create easy-to-manage workflow automation and easily make adjustments to meet your business needs as time goes on and strategies or strategies change.

    This transition towards automation is becoming a cornerstone in modernizing HR practices, and it offers many benefits for HR departments of all sizes.

    Benefits of Workflow Automation

    Workflow automation can help streamline many processes within your organization, particularly within the HR and recruitment marketing teams. Here are some of its key benefits and how it can achieve them:


    How Automation Achieves This

    Save time on tasks

    Automation handles repetitive tasks such as data entry and scheduling, freeing up time. A study found that companies implementing automation can save up to 240 hours per year per employee on manual tasks.

    Reduce human errors

    By standardizing processes and removing manual input, workflow automation significantly reduces errors, ensuring more accurate data handling and decision-making. This is especially critical when you consider the human data entry error rate for spreadsheets alone is as high as 5% — meaning one in every 20 entries is incorrect.

    Improve visibility

    Automation tools offer dashboards and real-time tracking, providing greater transparency over the entire recruitment process. Around 67% of organizations are using automation to improve end-to-end visibility.

    Increase efficiency

    Streamlines workflows by eliminating unnecessary steps and speeding up operations, leading to faster completion of HR tasks. A study found that 79% of participants reported the biggest benefit of automation is increasing productivity.

    Create a positive candidate experience

    Automated communication ensures timely and personalized contact with candidates, improving engagement and satisfaction. It also helps managers support employees through their careers with communication and transparency, an important fact considering poor communication causes 40% of workers to lose trust in their leadership and team.  

    Promote better collaboration

    By providing a platform for team members to access information and communicate effectively, automation enhances collaboration across departments. One report found that only about 9% of respondents said their organization had effective sharing and collaboration infrastructure.

    Improve communication

    HR workflow automation enables consistent and accurate information exchange. This is critical in HR settings, particularly during recruitment and onboarding. It’s no surprise that in 2023, the top use of AI in recruiting was chatbots and intelligent messaging.

    Scale workflows to your needs

    Flexible automation solutions can be scaled up or down based on business needs, supporting growth without additional resource investment. Since about 20% of companies fail in their first year, the ability to scale all of your organization’s tools as demand grows is crucial to overall success and longevity.

    Reduce operational costs

    AI-powered automation minimizes the need for manual labor and reduces costs associated with human errors. A recent study found that AI has the possibility to automate around 40% of the workday, which could massively reduce costs.

    Increase speed and quality of hiring

    Automating the recruitment cycle reduces time to hire and improves the quality of hires through better screening and assessment processes. Around 76% of HR departments have adopted or are considering adopting automation tools.

    Together, these benefits boost the performance of HR and recruitment marketing teams. Automating both simple and complex tasks saves time, cuts down on errors, and improves key recruiting areas like candidate experience and communication.

    To visualize how workflow automation might be a game-changer for your organization, let’s take a look at some examples.

    Workflow Automation Examples

    Workflow automation eliminates the need for HR teams to complete mundane tasks, allowing them to focus on bigger-picture goals and more meaningful interactions with candidates and employees. Here are some examples of workflow automation in action:

    • Document approval: Workflow automation speeds up the document approval process by automating how documents are distributed and how signees are notified, making the process quicker and easier.

    • Employee onboarding: From initial paperwork to training plans, automated onboarding makes welcoming new hires smooth and hassle-free.

    • Employee offboarding: Similarly, when an employee leaves the company, automation creates a thorough and professional offboarding process without a hitch.

    • Lead follow-ups: Automating follow-ups with leads allows you to keep in touch with top talent who are already in your talent pipeline, giving you more opportunities to bring them aboard.

    • Data reporting: Automation compiles and analyzes data, delivering insights on metrics like performance and talent management trends that you can use to make informed decisions.

    • Interview scheduling: Automated interview scheduling tools review the hiring team’s calendars and automatically present interview times to candidates. Once a time is confirmed the scheduling tool follows up with the candidate via email, SMS, or chat.

    • Automated Sourcing: Automatically surface candidates for any job by matching skills, experience, past titles, and work location of the role.

    • One-Way Video Interviews: Conduct assessments using video to reduce the time it takes to screen and qualify candidates. Complete with easy-to-use templates, status tracking, and response scoring. 

    Related: What You Need to Know About Video Interviewing Candidates

    These are just a few examples of how workflow automation can make it easier for HR teams and recruiters to work efficiently. It’s equally important to understand the overall value of automated process tools to key teams in your organization.

    Workflow Automation Use Cases

    Workflow automation is a versatile tool that can be highly beneficial for various teams within an organization. Here's how different departments can leverage this technology:

    • Recruitment Marketing: For recruitment marketing teams, workflow automation is invaluable. It enables the seamless automation of campaign workflows, ensuring timely and targeted communications. It also helps improve the consistency and relevance of communications sent to potential candidates, improving engagement and conversion rates.

    • Human Resources: HR teams use workflow automation to manage the complex workflows associated with recruitment, hiring, talent acquisition, and talent management. By automating these processes, HR professionals can minimize manual input and errors, speed up candidate screening, and ensure a consistent and fair hiring process. Automation also supports ongoing talent management efforts, helping to maintain engagement, development, and compliance throughout the employee lifecycle.

    Understanding and implementing workflow automation is a critical first step in streamlining processes across these departments. By learning how to effectively automate workflows, teams can dramatically improve their productivity and focus on generating greater value from their core activities.

    How to Automate Your Workflows

    Automating your workflows depends on what you need to get done, but following a general process can help you make the switch from manual to automated systems smoother. Before you create a plan for transitioning to automated HR technology, consider these steps:

    1. Evaluate the Process

    Start by taking a close look at what you currently do. In HR and recruitment, figure out where tasks tend to pile up or take too long. Using an AI-powered HR platform can help here by analyzing your current workflows and spotting the sticky points. Some platforms have effective tools that help you see your processes clearly and find the ideal processes to automate, helping you find efficiencies faster.

    2. Define Your Goals

    Knowing what you want to achieve with automation is key. In HR, this often includes speeding up hiring without sacrificing efficiency, improving how candidates feel about your processes, and making better decisions with the help of in-depth data. AI technology can guide you here too, with analytics that help predict what changes will make a real difference.

    3. Research and Select Your Tools

    The right tools are critical to effective workflow automation. Make sure the solution you choose fits with the tech stack you already have and is designed to improve HR and recruitment tasks. Advanced HR and recruiting platforms use AI to offer a range of functionality — from screening candidates automatically to enhancing communication — and should be scalable, easy to use, and well-supported.

    4. Train Your Team

    Once you've picked your tools, it’s time to get everyone up to speed. Proper training enables your team to make the most of the new systems. Look for an AI-backed platform that comes with training resources to help everyone adjust quickly and effectively.

    5. Improve and Optimize

    Think of automation as a continuous improvement process, not a one-and-done deal. Especially in recruitment, fine-tuning your automated steps can lead to a much better experience for job seekers. It can also help talent management teams create a positive employee experience.

    Following these steps can help you automate recruiting and other HR tasks by streamlining workflows, boosting the effectiveness of your efforts.

    Workflow Automation vs. Robotic Process Automation

    If you’re familiar with workflow automation, you may have heard it referred to as robotic process automation (RPA). Both play critical roles in boosting operational efficiency, but they tackle tasks differently. Workflow automation is the process of simplifying and automating entire processes. It's perfect for managing complex tasks, like high-volume hiring, that involve essential decision-making and must work across different business systems. This makes it ideal for big-picture improvements.

    RPA is the go-to for automating straightforward, repetitive tasks, like entering data or shuffling files around. While both technologies drive efficiency, workflow automation takes a comprehensive approach, optimizing complete processes, not just parts. This is especially handy in areas like HR and recruitment, where you deal with complex tasks that require careful coordination. Picking between workflow automation and RPA comes down to whether you need deep integration and extensive automation, or just simpler task handling.

    Choosing the right automation technology can dramatically enhance the speed and the quality of your operations by tailoring them to the unique demands of your organization, team, and candidates.

    Discover Solutions for your HR and Recruitment Marketing Workflows at Phenom

    Workflow automation can make HR and recruitment marketing significantly more efficient. While common hurdles like integrating new tools, navigating change management, and keeping data secure can make it challenging to approach, the right solution makes the transition and integration process as simple as possible — and keeps them that way by streamlining your most critical and time-consuming HR workflows.

    The Phenom Automation Engine is a powerful tool designed specifically to meet these challenges. It equips HR teams to craft, apply, and track automation workflows tailored to talent management functions, including recruitment, employee development, and retention. And it does more than automate tedious tasks; it also improves the way candidates experience your process by personalizing interactions at every step. Thanks to its smart features like workflow intelligence and process mining, Phenom ramps up your recruitment game, boosts conversion rates, and helps you recruit, hire, and retain top talent faster.

    Curious to learn how the Phenom can revamp your HR workflows and sharpen your focus on strategic talent acquisition? Schedule time with one of our Automation Engine experts. We’ll show you how you can personalize every talent touchpoint at scale:

    • Identify where you can build, implement, and monitor automation workflows in talent lifecycle processes

    • Determine where you can reduce time to hire and enhance the talent experience by automating tedious sourcing, scoring, screening, and interview scheduling tasks

    • Talk about how automation can improve your efficiency and conversion rates so you can hire a larger volume of quality talent, fast!

    Learn how automation can help you find your focus and repurpose your team’s energy to strategically acquire talent. See what Phenom Intelligent Automation offers or schedule an Automation Conversation with the Phenom team. 

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