Insight Digital HR

What’s your organization’s Automation Quotient? How HR can help shift the score.

Written by Charlotte Brown on 25 Aug 2022

An organization’s AQ doesn’t end with HR automation, but it’s a pretty good place to start. Read on to find out why. 

Do you know what your organization’s automation quotient is? Maybe not, but maybe you do know what your intelligence quotient (aka IQ) is. In the same way that IQ provides a measure of an individual’s cognitive abilities, automation quotient (AQ) reflects the ability of an individual or team to adopt and thrive with automation.

This is important because with the rapid evolution of technology in business and the world more broadly, the companies that embrace technology and automation will out-perform those who are slow to move. You don’t have to look far for examples of companies who failed to adopt and adapt to new technology – Blockbuster, Kodak, the Walkman, Blackberry, to name a few.

Beyond the benefits of remaining competitive in your key markets, in this article, we’ll break down how technology – specifically HR automation – yields rewards at the organizational, team and individual level when they’re of high AQ. Plus, we’ll share some recommendations for boosting your AQ.

High AQ + HR automation: the benefits

For the organization

While you might initially think of the effects of automation in immediate and micro terms (i.e. How will it help me in my role?), the benefits of automation at a macro, organizational level can be significant. For example, in their Global Survey on IT and the Business, McKinsey & Company reported that tech transformations led to a direct impact on:

  • Reduction in costs (76% of companies).
  • Existing revenue streams (70% of companies).
  • Realization of new revenue streams (50% of companies).

In addition, they named four key things that differentiate leading companies who embrace digital transformation from the rest:

  1. Speed. These companies “just operate faster”, enabling them to better adapt to market conditions, scale up and down as needed, and make faster decisions.
  2. Innovation. In addition to streamlining and improving core business, technology paves the way for greater innovation, failing fast, and trying again. Because companies that stand still, don’t move ahead.
  3. Decision making. Leading companies don’t just make smarter and faster decisions; they make bolder decisions. “High-performing organizations are three times more likely than others to say their data and analytics initiatives have contributed at least 20 percent to EBIT”.
  4. Customer-focused. These companies don’t just talk about being “customer-centric” they sustain that customer focus, leading to greater economic rewards.

For HR

For HR and people and culture leaders who embrace technology and HR automation, these same four benefits apply, just substitute “customers” for “people”. In high AQ organizations, people managers look to HR automation to:

  • remove bottlenecks.
  • speed up and streamline HR processes.
  • understand gaps and opportunities.
  • make informed, people-centric decisions based on data and facts, combined with their expertise and judgement.

They also use automation to prioritize people.

Instead of getting ensnared in “busy work”, time is freed-up for strategic, profit-generating, and people-first activities like building engaged and empowered teams.

As an example, when MICM Real Estate adopted intelliHR for HR process automation, they were able to streamline superfluous administration tasks (like drawing up contracts for new starters and onboarding processes), which saved the people and culture team up to two days per week (40% of their time!). Read the full case study here.

For the people

An organization can’t truly automate without their people (their stakeholders) getting behind it. Too many tech projects stall or suffer from low adoption because of a poor implementation process, lack of user-testing or training, or expectations not meeting reality. Other times, resistance from staff stems from a fear that technology – automation, robots and AI included – will steal their jobs.

On the contrary, if McKinsey & Company’s aforementioned figures are anything to go by, technology-first organizations will be the ones that keep employees, as those companies who don’t keep pace, won’t survive.

To address this fear, Ted Shelton, Partner at Bain & Company, recommends reframing automation and technology as “augmenting” rather than “replacing” work e.g.,

Intelligent technologies will augment your work, shifting your focus and contribution toward skills that are still the exclusive domain of people — collaboration, innovation, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence.” – Ted Shelton

Especially in today’s hybrid and remote working environment, automation allows an individual to work smarter, not harder, and do what humans do best – like connecting, listening, showing compassion, and solving unstructured problems.

How to boost your organization’s automation quotient 

So, what can HR leaders do to win stakeholder and employee buy-in to create a technology-first, automated workplace? Here are some tips.

  • Build capacity and understanding in automation and technologies through education and training.
  • Empower employees to upskill to leverage technology and/or build skills in other areas if automation has replaced some or all of their role.
  • Engage employees early on and continually throughout the procurement or transformation process – ask for their input on pain points, must-haves, nice-to-haves, include them in user-testing, and provide ongoing updates to demonstrate transparency and increase ownership.
  • Use continuous feedback to understand where the bottlenecks and painful processes that could be automated are, to crowdsource employee ideas for automation, and to gain feedback as changes roll out.
  • Make technology central to business strategy. According to McKinsey & Company, 47% of leading companies say that senior leaders foster a culture that supports new and digital ways of working (vs. 3% of other companies).

Becoming an automation-first organization (using your HRIS)

For HR, a key step in becoming an automation-first organization is to look for ways you can use your HRIS to streamline processes, minimize disruption, deliver consistency, reduce risk of errors, and provide intelligent insights. In this way, HR automation will save serious time for your team and managers, so you can do the work that attracted you to the profession in the first place.

The point is, automation-first thinking sets off the light-bulb and allows you to think differently – and to think big – about what’s possible with automation. It creates a new way to articulate business requirements and in so doing redefines and expands the scope of work that can be automated.” – Rajeev Tyagi

Here’s how to do automated HR with intelliHR.

  1. People analytics / reporting: Instead of spending hours on spreadsheets, reports, and data, intelliHR has a built-in analytics engine that provides over 25 instant reports, alongside intelligent insights from which you can extract valuable insights.
  2. HR workflow automation: Send emails and forms to people at different points throughout the employee lifecycle as a result of an action or change in the system with regards to onboarding, offboarding, training, performance, feedback, and certificate renewals (or any other manual process).
  3. Onboarding: With intelliHR’s HR onboarding tools, help automate various parts of onboarding process from sending personalized welcome emails, to obtain personal information, to providing role-based onboarding information and training.
  4. Continuous feedback: Send automatic pulses and surveys to teams to check-in on happiness, performance, support needed, engagement, and more. intelliHR also automatically analyzes the data for you, generating reports, graphs and interactive charts in a couple of clicks.
  5. Compliance: Never get caught out on expired licenses, missed visa renewals, policy-non compliance, or outdated training, as intelliHR has compliance and qualifications dashboards that automatically track expiries and sends reminders to staff when due dates are upcoming (who can then update their details via employee self-serve, one less task for HR!).
  6. Performance: intelliHR combines manager’s diary notes, employee and managers’ check-in feedback, goals, training and more to create a comprehensive employee performance report card, automating performance review time and removing recency bias.
  7. Organizational chart: Your intelliHR system knows when people are coming, going or changing jobs, which means the in-built org chart updates automatically for you in real-time. There’s no need to manually update your org chart ever again and you can even export it as an image or PDF to share externally when needed (no more Powerpoint or InDesign!).

RELATED: 5 ways to reduce HR admin with automation

One final thought

The challenge in becoming an automation-first organization is not to look for ways technology and HR automation can fix existing problems and processes, but to flip your thinking and look at how automation can help tap new opportunities, enable innovation, and realize new revenue streams.


intelliHR is a people management platform helping HR, leaders and managers enhance performance, culture, engagement and retention. With built-in HRIS and powerful real-time analytics, see how the platform works today.

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