More and more, human resource teams are turning to the use of a workflow management tool. It can be difficult, however, for human resource leaders to gain approval to purchase new software because their departments have traditionally been seen as cost centers. While working to prove their role as a strategic partner within the business, it has been difficult to show the return on investment (ROI) when investing in new tools compared to other parts of the company. However, because the way that we work, and the world we work in, is rapidly changing, human resources is playing a new, and more critical role than ever.
With roughly 43% of the American workforce spending at least some time working remotely, and Fortune 1000 companies around the world revamping their spaces due to already mobile employees, it’s safe to say the world’s gone global. This is an exciting time economically, as it’s creating opportunities never seen before. However, this has quickly produced some new dynamics as it relates to how organizations find ways to maintain productivity, foster communication, and encourage collaboration among their workforce.
Human Resource Management
The need for a workflow tool isn’t limited to a global or remote workforce, however. As we look at the challenges unique to human resources overall, it becomes clear that many teams are struggling with issues such as:
- Manual, paper-based processes
- Outdated recruiting and onboarding practices
- Inconsistent employee profiles
- Difficulty tracking and measuring performance and training
- Lack of social context and team feedback channels, regardless of their physical locations
When looking at how a workflow management tool affects human resource processes, we quickly discover it can impact most areas of the employee lifecycle. Candidates and applicants are introduced to it during the recruitment and onboarding phase and then can use it from a self-service standpoint. From performance management and training to time-off requests and events, using a common tool can greatly impact overall productivity.
Impact of a Workflow Management Tool
As we evaluate the cost benefits, there are several things to consider. Let’s unpack some of the ways human resources can justify purchasing a workflow management tool.
Save Time – We can safely assume that an automated workflow system will save time because work will be done more efficiently. But digging just a bit deeper into this, the same time is still being spent, however, it’s spent on things that make the company money, and automating things that can be handled by the tool.
Reduce Human Error – No one is so good that they never make a mistake. Additionally, when things are done repeatedly, and by different people, the margin of error widens. Having an automated tool significantly reduces the risk of human error by guiding users through the processes.
Data Integrity and Reporting – Not only is data more accurate, but it’s available at your fingertips, and in a fraction of the time it would take to manually create a report. Imagine letting go of manually tracking data on Excel spreadsheets in order to compile a report, versus having the ability to manipulate data and produce a report in mere seconds.
Process Improvement – Create your own processes based on your tried and true best practices. Assign the right people to do the right tasks at the right times. Eliminate wasted and duplicate efforts, identify bottlenecks, and stop skipping or forgetting steps.
Ability to Scale – We hear a lot about scale, and for good reason; companies are interested in growing. However, it’s difficult to grow when there is a cost attached to the administrative side of growth. Workflow management tools allow companies to scale easily because they won’t be dependent upon hiring more people to handle workflow administration.
Empowering Employees – Workflow management tools provide a social context for employees to communicate and collaborate with one another. Whether a cubicle away, or a continent away, team members can work on projects together, stay up-to-date on their progress, and encourage one another through performance drivers such as “likes” and awards.
Employees are one of the largest expenses for employers, and it stands to reason that companies should not only invest in hiring the best talent they can find, but those that strive to be an employer of choice with high-performance environments should set their employees up to do their best work. Human resources is the department responsible for hiring, training, and developing one of the largest investments a company makes. A workflow management tool is an investment that squarely positions them to be a strategic partner, rather than simply an administrative function.