Looking to brush up on all the latest HR acronyms, buzzwords, and common terms? This glossary is for you, sort of like the ABCs of HR. It's everything you need to know in the realm of employee experience and human connection, defined in easy-to-understand language.
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If your people are the heart of your business, your human resources team keeps it beating. HR touches every single worker at your company and gets very complicated very quickly. But it doesn’t have to be like that: HR workflow software designed for today’s workplaces can cut through the noise of repetitive tasks and information overload to deliver an outstanding employee experience.
Adding another product to your HR technology stack can be overwhelming if executed improperly. Find out what HR workflow software is, why it matters, and how to find the right product to support your people.
What Are Your HR Workflows?
HR workflows are the repeatable activities – or steps – that occur within your HR processes. Once a workflow is set in motion, it follows the established pattern. These workflows operate in sequential order because each step depends on the one before it. Triggers that kick-start the process and occur between each step to initiate the next one keep that activity flowing in the right direction. It’s worth noting that HR workflows aren’t just limited to HR team members. For instance, while interviewing and hiring candidates, these workflows would also involve IT, hiring managers, and other members of your team.
Interviewing candidates is one step in your hiring workflow, but interviews can’t occur until you’ve posted a job, reviewed applications, accepted candidates, and identified the top few for interviews. If a recruiter changes a candidate’s status to move further down the hiring funnel, that change could trigger candidates to set up an interview.
HR Workflow Software Basics
HR workflow software is a tool (or suite of tools) designed to bring consistency to your HR workflows. Implementing software that integrates across your tech stack creates a linear workflow by helping those systems talk to each other better. HR workflow software uses an “if/then” logic to automate tasks in a specific order. Users can set triggers to kick-start a planned sequence of events, creating the workflow.
For example, one of the final steps in your hiring workflow is sending an offer letter to your chosen candidate. Completing the previous steps in your hiring sequence can trigger your workflow software to send that offer letter. Setting these tasks up to occur automatically frees up time for recruiters and hiring managers to focus on tasks that require deeper thinking.
HR workflow software can show up in different ways. Many standard HR software tools have workflow capabilities built into them. For example, your payroll and benefits software may automatically notify employees about changes to their health plans.
Other workflow solutions are standalone products you can layer over your tech stack. These products allow you to build custom workflows, using integrations to pull the right information from other software as you need it. Standalone products allow you to build consistent workflows across the employee journey, creating a better experience for your people.
3 Benefits of HR Workflow Process Software
HR workflow software can generate countless benefits for your business. Check out some of the most common ways it can help you.
Ensure Compliance – and More
Maintaining compliance is a key priority for HR, but it shouldn’t be all you strive for. What if you could guarantee compliance and provide a great employee experience?
HR workflow software helps you create consistent HR processes. And when everything follows a set order with clear criteria for review, you’re more likely to catch and prevent potential compliance issues.
Take the process for requesting a leave of absence. That process follows a strict order of events but can vary based on local laws. Smart workflow software that automates the process provides the right information in the right sequence every time, minimizing the margin for error while accounting for those local rules and regulations.
Captivate Employees With a Great Experience
The great thing about implementing HR workflow management for compliance is that it also improves the employee experience. Don’t forget that people are on the other side of every HR process. Any problems with HR processes prevent your people from doing what you hired them to do.
New hires may need to fill out multiple forms with the same information, for example, as they’re completing onboarding paperwork. HR workflow software can streamline this process, collecting the right information once and sending it to HR systems to house that data — creating a less repetitive and overwhelming first impression for new workers.
Automating HR processes through workflow software that puts people first creates a fluid experience that gives employees time to focus on more important things. By taking HR workflow software to the next level and using it to send targeted content to encourage reflection and discussion, you create a more engaging and exciting experience that enriches the employee journey.
Empower Moments That Matter
HR software for process management helps your HR team, too. Instead of spending their energy on time-consuming, repetitive, and manual tasks, your HR team can focus on what really matters: putting the right people in the right place in your business and providing the right support.
Automated workflows also standardize and improve processes handled by people managers, like performance management or onboarding. That gives managers time back in their day to help their teams develop and grow.
8 Scenarios Where HR Workflow Automation Makes a Big Difference
Since everyone in your organization is affected by HR workflows in some way, improving HR workflows is a powerful way to improve the employee experience. Check out these scenarios where HR workflow software can have the biggest impact.
Recruiting and Hiring
Recruiting and hiring are ideal use cases for HR workflow software. The hiring process has clearly defined stages with specific triggers, starting with when an application is received.
Many of the hiring tasks that HR workflow software automates aren’t necessarily challenging. But they can become tedious and time-consuming for recruiters, whose time is better spent making connections with candidates. The same is true for hiring managers who are often functional managers with direct reports and individual responsibilities. The helping hand of HR workflow software can have a huge impact on the lives of your recruiting and hiring teams.
Of course, this automation is also great for candidates. We’re living in an era where experience is the priority not just for employees but also for applicants and job candidates. HR workflow software can automate many steps in the recruiting and hiring process, improving the candidate experience and making it consistent for each applicant.
Triggering automatic communication for candidates who complete a stage in the hiring process or experience a change in their application status keeps them in the loop without taxing your recruiters and hiring managers
Onboarding processes have always been compliance-driven. But that’s not the only priority for handling new hires. Employers must create great onboarding experiences that set the stage for long and successful relationships while also maintaining compliance.
HR workflow software can automate compliance processes while reducing repetitive paperwork for new hires. Automated nudges can also help remind managers and co-workers to check in on new hires with specific questions, encouraging comments or other support. This ensures new hires aren’t lost in the shuffle while giving established employees guidance as they reach out.
Vast amounts of employee data flow through HR every day. This data typically lives in your core HR software (your HR information system or HR management system). At a fundamental level, this data deals with payroll and benefits administration, time tracking, and workforce compliance. This potentially sensitive employee and organizational information must be protected even while being available to people who need it, such as the HR department, direct managers, and employees.
An HRMS keeps this information organized and safe while supplying a self-service portal to give the right people access. Layering your HR workflow software over your HRIS lets you set up triggers activated by specific requests. Say an employee needs to change an entry on their timesheet, or a manager needs to view a note for an excused absence. Or maybe HR is porting hundreds of new employees over during a merger or another big organizational change. Putting in the request kick-starts the workflow, alerting the right people at the right times to keep things moving.
Leave requests are among the most tedious and confusing HR processes. These requests can vary in form and process based on where an employee is located or the organization’s policies. They are generally frustrating for employees to figure out on their own.
Running leave requests through HR workflow software can make a huge difference in compliance, record-keeping, and employee experience. You can set workflows with conditions, such as location, to control for variables in local or national laws. Automated leave processes, equipped with accurate, easy-to-understand information, set employee expectations and empower your people to take control of their leave.
Take parental leave, for instance. Employees gearing up for parental leave already have a lot on their plates personally and professionally. The employee’s manager is also busy shifting workloads to help prepare for upcoming time off. Automating the logistics of the leave request process through HR workflow software makes a big difference in improving the transition experience for everyone involved.
Performance management can be kryptonite for managers who don’t have the right resources or support to provide useful feedback. More employers are recognizing the power of conversations in the flow of work rather than waiting for annual or semiannual performance reviews.
HR workflow software can use prompts to remind managers to address performance or to help them ask questions that get to the heart of performance concerns. For example, surveys or conversation prompts sent at targeted points during a project can help managers and employees start meaningful conversations about performance while there’s time to make adjustments. When employees receive this content, they can review their progress, raise concerns, and interact with their managers in meaningful, constructive ways.
Managing performance is even more complicated when you’re shifting into long-term hybrid work, or returning employees to the office. HR workflow software can help you manage performance effectively, even in the midst of reboarding employee to the new world of work.
Learning and Development
HR workflow software can help you develop better learning programs that your people can get excited about. Learning in the flow of work is one of the best ways to teach someone something and give them a chance to apply that knowledge in real time.
For instance, when a worker gets a new assignment, you can set workflows to trigger content that offers support and encourages deeper thinking. With multi-step or multi-stage tasks, you can develop a drip campaign to encourage learning over time. An employee checking off a task might trigger a survey or an opportunity to reflect on learning outcomes. On the manager’s side, completing a task could trigger talking points to use during performance check-ins to help the worker process what they’ve learned.
There are even more powerful applications of HR workflow software for learning and development. If you can map specific skills to roles within the business, you can help employees find career tracks best suited to their unique strengths. As employees collect skills badges or accomplish learning goals, checking those boxes could trigger content related to the roles they’ve “unlocked.” This can help employees envision a future within your company, map a path to get there and increase longevity and retention.
Beyond streamlining processes, HR workflow software can enrich the employee experience, supporting better engagement. Targeted content can offer better context for employee actions and even help your people draw connections between their actions and the business’s larger mission, vision and values. Connecting those dots can help employees find their purpose and value within your organization.
HR workflow software can help spark connections between workers, too, especially in remote working environments. Workplace friendships are powerful sources of employee engagement that drive higher morale, productivity, and performance. Automated nudges informing colleagues of personal events (such as birthdays or job anniversaries) or career milestones (like promotions or stretch goals) can help co-workers learn about, acknowledge, and celebrate peer moments.
It’s a fact that employees will leave your company for one reason or another. Improving the offboarding process reduces stress for the departing employee and remaining co-workers.
Automating offboarding helps guarantee that the right information is dispensed and collected before an employee leaves, whether that’s documenting and retaining essential job-relevant knowledge, sensitive company information, post-employment benefits information, or their reason for leaving.
3 Steps to Choosing the Right HR Workflow Software
There are countless HR workflow software products on the market. Here are some criteria to help you select the right tool for your people.
Identify Your Biggest Needs
Every organization has different needs and priorities. Before choosing HR workflow software, look back at your talent strategy to discover your biggest needs and priorities.
If you need support customizing HR processes, for example, look for modular software that provides suggested workflows with clear options for customizing templates. If attracting talent is a priority, look for a solution that integrates with your applicant tracking system to provide the best possible candidate experience. Other talent-related features include software that integrates with your marketing tech stack to create engaging branded content and solutions that help employees easily refer potential hires.
Examine Your HR Processes
Every HR workflow software offering has pros and cons. Finding the right one for you depends on the HR processes you already have (and whether those processes are working).
If your HR processes live in a system that goes unused by managers and employees, for example, you need a system that integrates with the tools they do use. One reason managers don’t follow through with performance management, for example, is that it lives in a separate system. Integrate performance management prompts in Microsoft Teams or other communication channels that managers and employees use every day.
Consider Your Culture
Think about your organizational culture, vision and mission. How do they influence your HR processes? What’s most important, and how do you put that first?
Look for an HR software vendor that shares similar priorities. Adding a product that supports your values and mission will make the changes easier to sell to employees. For instance, an HR workflow software vendor that shares your commitment to putting employees first will likely have a simpler, easier-to-manage user interface, which can help your people adapt quickly to the software’s features and benefits.
Put Humans Back at the Heart of HR
There’s much more to HR processes than maintaining compliance. Every HR process is an experience for someone, so don’t forget the employee on the other side. HR workflow software helps you take your HR processes from time-consuming, repetitive, and frustrating to efficient, smooth, and engaging.
Investing in HR workflow software could be the first step to designing and tailoring processes that meet the needs of real people: to reduce frustration, increase clarity, and provide the support each worker needs to do their job confidently.