How HR Can Use Tech to Keep Pace with a More Agile Workplace

January 12, 2017

How HR Can Use Tech to Keep Pace with a More Agile Workplace

Concepts like workflow automation and Identity Access Management (IAM) were once the exclusive purview of IT departments, but businesses’ increasing focus on agility has pushed HR professionals to the forefront of new tech experimentation and adoption. Especially where routine tasks like setting up new hires’ 401k plans or approving timesheets are concerned, automation can simplify HR teams’ to-do list and free up time for more strategic work.


Here are three ways HR professionals can use technology to streamline their workflow:


  • Sign in once, stay safe always. The modern worker already deals with a wide variety of business apps, and HR professionals are no exception. Especially as organizations continue to embrace the cloud, the number of platforms HR staff access on a daily basisfor onboarding, payroll administration, benefits management, etc.continue to expand. Unfortunately, the growing list of tools meant to help HR professionals become more productive introduce their own challenges, each requiring a separate username, password and sometimes two-factor authentication method, resulting in the dreaded “password fatigue.”


This forces HR professionals to choose between the convenience of reusing a single password on multiple sites, and the security risk inherent in doing so. IAM solutions provide both convenience and security, letting HR workers move across applications without needing to authenticate each time they access a new platform, while still protecting sensitive corporate and employee information.


  • Automate routine tasks. HR workers enjoy access to a wider variety of automation tools than ever before, but these are rarely taken advantage of. Services like Zapier or IFTTT can help apps communicate with each other under predefined conditions, such as retrieving applicant résumés from emails and saving them to a cloud-based storage service. Harnessing the power of automation tools makes it easier for organizations to prioritize HR-driven employee identities. Traditionally, IT has been responsible for managing employee credentials, access to business applications and more, while HR merely had access to a directory of employees, their roles and access levels through separate enterprise applications. HR-driven identity management allows HR to reclaim ownership of the employee identity lifecycle rather than simply delegating management tasks to IT.


  • Hire an AI assistant. Plenty of consumers have experienced the added convenience artificial intelligence (AI) assistants like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa can bring to their day to day, but the technology stands to have an even more dramatic impact in the workplace. Growing AI sophistication presents HR professionals additional opportunities to streamline low-level tasks. A study conducted by McKinsey Global Institute found that the average worker spends 28 percent of their time answering emails. Instead of manually fielding routine questions from employees, HR staff will soon be able to use an AI-powered assistant to respond to the most common queries, offering both superhuman response times and additional bandwidth to pursue more strategic initiatives.


Ironically, many of the role activities that fill HR professionals’ days were the result of earlier technology acquisitions, but today’s advanced tech can go beyond acting as a tool to serve as a true assistant. Rather than simply providing a medium of communication (like email), workflow automation apps and AI assistants can actually send and respond to emails based on user-defined criteria. HR professionals can use services like IFTTT and Recruiterbox can completely automate some tasks. For example, a Slack notification can be used to trigger sending an email to a colleague with an attachment from a cloud storage service like DropBox. In some cases, integration and automation can even be used to perform certain actions, like updating employee records, based on inbound emails or instant messages from staff.


Meanwhile, IAM solutions provide a truly seamless experience when working across business applications, eliminating the hassle of maintaining (and forgetting) dozens of unique passwords.


While the demands placed on HR professionals continue to grow, IAM and workflow automation tools offer a way to work smarter, not harder.

The Authors: 

Alvaro Hoyos is the chief information security officer for OneLogin, a leader in cloud identity management solutions, where he architects and leads the company’s risk management, security, and compliance efforts. He has more than 15 years in the IT sector. Prior to joining OneLogin, Hoyos helped startups, SMBs, and Fortune 500 companies with their security, compliance, and data privacy objectives. To learn more about Alvaro Hoyos and OneLogin, please visit: Twitter: @wherestherisk