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HR departments tackle just as many administrative tasks as they do interpersonal ones. And sometimes, HR professionals may have to perform more of the former than the latter: An entire workday can be swallowed up by manual, mandatory assignments like data entry, workplace safety paperwork and payroll. These tasks are necessary to keep companies afloat, but they reduce the amount of time HR teams can dedicate to the more “human” aspects of their job, like improving communication between employees and fostering a healthy workplace culture. Manual tasks are also expensive because of the amount of time and manpower they require, and they leave room for human errors like incorrect data entry or improperly updated employee information. As a result, more HR departments have turned to technology to automate and streamline these tedious processes—and are reaping benefits as a result.

Saving Time and Money

Many HR teams begin their digital transformations with the help of employee self-service systems—programs that allow employees to access and update their personal records, contact details, banking information and benefits. A recent national study by Paycom and HR.com found that implementing this type of technology saved the average large HR department seven hours a week, while nearly half saved 10 or more.

Much of the time spent on administrative tasks would be better spent on people-focused initiatives like building a stronger work culture or workshopping diversity and inclusion programs. In today’s workplaces, where employees are driven by a company’s mission, it’s important that HR professionals have time to work on more than just administrative tasks.

Investing in technology and automation doesn’t just save time — it saves money, too. A recent study from Ernst & Young looked at the everyday cost of HR tasks, like payroll and benefits enrollment. It found that a single task or manual data entry costs $4.39, including labor and other costs like printing, copying and postage. Researchers also discovered that, in total, an organization manually onboarding 200 employees each year spends about $2,000 on data entry. Embracing digital transformation allows companies to reclaim these costs, creating a much more efficient system in the process.

Increasing Compliance

The constant and repetitive nature of data entry and employee information updates also commonly leads to mistakes. Fixing these errors takes up time and—when left uncorrected—can create noncompliance issues. For example, if an employee’s banking information is incorrect, their paycheck could be delayed or sent elsewhere. Or if some employees aren’t sent and asked to complete a sexual harassment seminar, a workplace could face legal penalties in the future. But with employee self-service tools, HR departments can protect against mistakes and limit the time and resources wasted on duplicated work and corrections. Employees can enter their personal data or make changes when necessary when enrolling in benefits or updating their address, for example. And HR professionals, who once had to collect such information and enter it into a company database, can become less involved and instead shift their focus on other, more strategic initiatives.

But can employees be trusted to accurately and responsibly enter their data? Although 41% pf HR professionals in one study were concerned about just that, self-service actually increased employee accountability for data accuracy and, in turn, reduced the risk of compliance mishaps.

Upping Employee Engagement

HR leaders aren’t the only ones who benefit from digital transformation; employees actually prefer working for companies that take a software-first approach to HR. According to HR Technologist, 72% of workers who use technology to access their benefits are more engaged with their organization as a result. And better access to these benefits improves employee loyalty by 84%. These effects are due, in part, to the personalization that this access brings: When employees are put in control of their benefits, HR teams can analyze what is most valuable to them and subsequently tailor their benefits offerings. As a result, employees feel more appreciated and connected to their company.

Digital transformations can be frightening. They bring myriad changes to an employee’s job description and introduce new, digital processes that must be learned and adopted. The growing pains are inevitable. But once a company makes the switch, both employees and team leaders can take advantage of better ways to execute their day-to-day responsibilities. For HR professionals, this means a schedule that doesn’t include constant paperwork and data entry. Instead, they get to spend more time doing what they love: Focusing on company culture and creating an optimal work environment where employees can thrive.

Image: Creative Commons