9 Easy Automation Wins for HR Teams

Tina Eaton
September 10, 2018
minuto de lectura
9 Easy Automation Wins for HR Teams
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Nuevo aspecto, ¡el mismo gran producto! HelloSign ahora es Dropbox Sign.

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You know the feeling.

Ordering a pizza for dinner instead trying to come up with a coherent recipe based on what’s lying around your kitchen.

Hopping on the computer to shop for a new shower caddy only to give up overwhelmed and near tears at your desk an entire hour later.

Losing your temper on a new hire just before snapping out of your mental fog to realize you’re the one at fault for overlooking a vital element of their training.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.

According to Princeton psychologist Roy Baumeister; the repetitive, routine tasks you’ve been doing day in and day out at work have given you a gnarly case of “decision fatigue.”

That decision fatigue is causing you to lose focus and make rash, ill-informed judgement calls at work and in your daily life.

Especially as an HR professional, it’s extremely difficult not to get caught up in making hundreds of little decisions every single day considering the ever-growing list of tasks for which your department is expected to be responsible.

But there is relief.

Automation brings together tools and tech to take care of repetitive tasks so you can get back to the fun, creative stuff.

More specifically, HR automation is the process by which smart technology learns to complete repeatable, data-centric HR tasks.

HR automation beefs up the efficiency and effectiveness of common HR workflows so HR professionals can spend less time manually doing repetitive data entry, remediation, filing, and other tasks that induce decision fatigue.

In this age of digital transformation, there is absolutely no need to manually calculate payroll taxes, manage timesheets, remind your CHRO to sign something four times, track vacation time, or do any other predictable, low-skill jobs.

We’ve outlined nine of the easiest automation wins companies can employ today to give their HR pros back the brain space necessary to make high-value contributions to the future of the organization.

Easy Automation Wins to Help HR Teams Achieve More

1. Employee Onboarding

According to talent acquisition software company iCIMS, turnover is three times higher for new hires who are onboarded manually versus those who interact with HR automation.

Chart showing differences between manual and automated onboarding based on specific factors

Onboarding new hires manually could be costing you up to $102,000 per year. But HR automation has been shown to shrink the cost of onboarding by over 80 percent—taking it down to about $22,000 per year.

That’s an ROI of nearly $80,000, or nearly two whole salaries, in just a single year of HR automation!

The attrition rate and cost of manually onboarding employees alone makes an investment in HR automation an obvious win.

Onboarding is a delicate process that HR teams and companies as a whole should devote a lot of time to perfecting. So why not use some automation to help make it a little more pleasant for everyone involved?


If you’re using a tool like Dropbox Forms or Dropbox Sign, new hires will kick off their onboarding experience by using any device to access your frictionless digital workflow.

As the user moves through the prompts, the data they enter will automatically appear in all matching fields so there’s none of the same redundancies as traditional forms. Conditional logic ensures only the most relevant information is requested while data validation helps eliminate human error in real time.

Before they know it, your new hire will have completed their onboarding paperwork and you’ll have seen all the important information you need populate on your end in real time.

Just take a look at Instacart for a real-life example of the power of automated onboarding.

The grocery delivery startup was growing rapidly when they hit a huge snag: Fewer than half of their contractors were completing onboarding paperwork in a reasonable timeframe. Attrition was becoming too high to keep up with demand.

So they enlisted Dropbox Forms to develop a holistic, mobile-first workflow that accelerated onboarding paperwork completion by nearly 300 percent.

After their collaboration with Dropbox Forms, we’re proud to report that Instacart feels they’re well on their way to their goal of reaching 80 percent of U.S. households by the end of 2018.

You can read more about Instacart and and HR automation by downloading our eBook "How to Achieve Employee & Contractor Onboarding at Scale"

Illustration showing the documents required for employee onboarding in the conventional method and the Dropbox Forms method

2. HR Paperwork

HR teams process between 10 and 60 onboarding documents per employee.

All told, the average cost of administering HR services is about $1,900 per employee.

Per year.  

HR automation takes a huge bite out of the money, time, and resources it costs companies to process paperwork for the many, many tasks for which HR is responsible.

Using smart workflow automation technology such as Dropbox Forms, HR teams can create templates to streamline formatting and duplication, keep colleagues and new hires on track with automated reminders, use dynamic fields to eliminate redundant questions and catch human errors, and even map data straight into their databases and software so it never has to be typed twice.

A mobile phone showing a Dropbox Forms workflow with a list of smart data options on the right side

This easy automation win obliterates all kinds of common paperwork, including:

  • Candidate NDAs
  • Employee NDAs
  • W-9 forms
  • W-2 forms
  • Employee handbooks
  • Signed employment agreements
  • Volunteer application forms
  • Independent contractor agreements
  • Employee verification forms
  • Employee status change forms
  • Injury report forms
  • PTO forms
  • Background check authorization forms

3. Employee Questions

So we’ve made a dent in the paperwork problem in your HR department, but what are we going to do about all those Slack messages, emails, and *shudder* office drop-ins asking for the same information over and over?

When directing knowledge seekers to an FAQ page doesn’t seem like enough and you don’t have time to create a detailed information portal—it’s time to bring it a little outside help to engage this next-level (but still easy!) automation win.  

An automated assistant being used to help with a question with an employees health insurance policy

An automated “assistant” can help you manage knowledge sharing by using artificial intelligence to field questions from email, Slack, and other channels. And the more your colleagues ask it, the better it gets and providing them with the information they need.

Now the only question you’ll be getting is what your secret is for getting so much uninterrupted work done!

4. Payroll and Payroll Taxes

There may not be a more delicate and detailed process that HR teams handle, or play a large part in handling, than payroll and payroll taxes.

But if there’s one thing payroll has going for it, it’s that there are hardly ever any surprises when you’re doing it right.

And what does that make it? Another opportunity to implement an easy automation win for your HR team!  

Employee identification, rate of pay, hours worked or agreed-upon salary, time off accrued, tax deductions—there’s a lot of data that goes into cutting a check. However, that data is likely already being recorded elsewhere within your company. With some clever HR automation, you can pull it all together to make sure your workers are getting paid the right amount at the right time.

Any modern payroll automation system worth its salt should also automatically keep track of payroll taxes and be programmable to handle compliance requirements unique to your location and industry.

A statistic about how automation reduces payroll costs by as much as 80%, with an illustration of a dollar cut in two beneath

Automating payroll and payroll taxes won’t just save your HR team tons of time and frustration, it can downright save your business by preventing costly compliance missteps and keeping you ahead of tax season and surprise audits.

5. Time and Attendance Tracking

Managers spend 15 or more hours every single month manually managing timesheets.

HR automation for time and attendance tracking empowers these managers to take back nearly two entire work days every month! Now that’s an automation win if we’ve ever seen one.

Spreadsheets or, if you’re fancy, the digital tools you’re manually manipulating aren’t only a time suck; they’re likely not doing your HR team any favors when it comes to making use of all the valuable data they’re locking away.

Time and attendance tracking data can be used to calculate PTO, uncover a deeper understand of productivity, and ultimately help monitor employee performance against cost.  

Tracking these metrics is an important task. That’s all the more reason to trust it to HR automation.

In addition to plotting all that valuable data right where it needs to go in your databases and software systems, smart time and attendance tracking automation tools will employ dynamic fields that reduce friction and eliminate human error.

HR workflow automation makes reporting on their time and attendance was easier for employees while enabling managers to review and approve timesheets quickly and from any device, anywhere.

6. Performance Reviews

According to Wharton’s Director of the Center for Human Resources Peter Cappelli, “Performance appraisals … are one of the most important, time-consuming, and unpopular tasks in management.”

With the prevalence of performance reviews that feel like they were scheduled at the last minute, are based on biases and assumptions, and simply aren’t actionable—it’s no wonder they get a bad rap from managers, HR professionals, and teams as a whole.

But with the help of HR automation, it’s way easier to stick to a predictable schedule. In fact, many modern organizations are abolishing the yearly schedule altogether in favor of short, regular, and best of all authentic interactions between employees and their managers.

A statistic showing Deloitte employees spend 2 million hours every year on work pertaining to performance management

Personalized, digital performance reviews give workers a natural outlet in which to discuss and receive feedback and take on real action items to complete before their next check in.

Automatically crunching tons of performance data points isn’t just helpful in creating performance reviews people don’t dread—it helps HR teams identify trends and make strategic recommendations on company-wide concerns about turnover, engagement, ROI‍, and more.

Managers, employees, HR departments, and entire organizations can make the most of performance reviews with HR workflow automation.

7. Record Management and Security

Digital HR automation tools finally give HR teams the capability to store records in a way that doesn’t cause their desks to resemble Einstein's anxiety-producing office space.

But it’s the best ones that go a step beyond just storing paperwork to employing data mapping to make it usable.

For example, Dropbox Sign’s powerful functionality makes sure the information a user enters is mapped in real time to the databases and third-party software you already use.

So instead of being locked away in a PDF or sitting on your desk waiting to be transcribed from a paper form, all that valuable information you’ve collected is ready to be put to work.

With redundant data entry and human error eliminated; completion time, rates, and accuracy are allowed to grow untethered.

If reading about storing sensitive personal and business information digitally gives you the heebie jeebies, you’re not alone.

Security should be a closely-watched risk for any organization utilizing digital systems.

That’s one reason electronic workflows often automatically attach information such as date, time, owner, and other data to each completed field. These trails make it easy to track when certain actions were taken and by whom.  

Dropbox Forms actually custom-built its stringent, bank-level security measures right into all of our workflow content automation software.

Our documents are stored behind firewalls and encrypted at rest using AES 256-bit encryption. We even comply with Privacy Shield and eIDAS and are backed by AWS backup recovery so your data is safe from being improperly accessed or lost.

8. Time Off Requests

Wouldn’t it be a lot more fun to celebrate vacation plans with your colleagues instead of  loathing them for the paperwork pile up they’ll entail?

Whether it’s a hastily-scribbled Post-it note stuck to your monitor, a formalized paper form left on your desk, or yet another new email notification rattling your delicate layer of sanity—manually managing time off requests is so last decade.

Eliminate hours, or even days, spent manually processing vacation requests and deliver the good news sooner with yet another easy automation win.

HR workflow automation can make the vacation request and approval process nearly hands off for HR teams.

Say goodbye to disorganized request methods and create a streamlined approval process that automatically notifies each key team member when it’s their turn to sign off on the request.

Take this automation win another step further by updating your time off accrual tracking system in real time, notifying the employee of the status of their request, and maybe even automating a reminder to be sent to the employee’s team when their planned absence is approaching.

A diagram comparing a conventional time off request process to a Dropbox Forms time off request process

9. Expense Claims

In a (very) informal poll, we found that approximately 0% of the HR staff at Dropbox Sign—and in the entire known universe—enjoy managing expense claims.  

The process of making and managing expense claims is repetitive, formulaic, and typically paper-heavy for everyone involved. It’s a perfect candidate for yet another easy automation win for your HR team!

Instead of wasting everyone’s time with manual data entry and the inevitable remediation to take care of human error; simplify, digitize, and automate the steps of your expense claim process with smart workflow software.  

Plus, an automated expense claim workflow helps everyone down to your People Ops and financial teams by keep track of every detail, automatically generating helpful reports, securely store and access important data, and much more.

An image of a pizza shaped like a heart

So go ahead and order that pizza for dinner. Take your time carefully picking out each item of your Amazon order. Spend a few extra hours this week making sure your trainees are up to speed.

But don’t do it because you have to—do it because the HR automation wins you’ve implemented have given you back the time and focus you need to make good, informed decisions for your team, your company, and yourself.

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