RPA in recruitment - a blog by Karen Alexander for HR Zone

RPA in recruitment - a blog by Karen Alexander for HR Zone

A recent report from the Centre for London think tank, which proclaims that robots will take a third of jobs in the Capital within the next 20 years, is the latest in a long line of stories which predict the rise of machines against humanity. However, beyond the scaremongering, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) offers businesses the opportunity to become more efficient without shedding staff – not least with regards to recruitment and HR.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a robot is simply a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, especially one programmable by a computer. What’s more, according to management consulting provider, McKinsey & Company, up to 45 per cent of the activities individuals are paid to perform can be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies. But what are the benefits associated with RPA, and how can they be implemented to improve operations? 

From an HR perspective, deploying robots to manage process-driven tasks relieves practitioners from burdensome administration, freeing them up to concentrate on areas where they can add greater value. However, the advantages of harnessing technology to automate day-to-day processes reach far further than eliminating the most tedious elements of our roles. Ultimately, effective automation can improve efficiency to boost employee engagement and candidate experience. 

Of course, there are some things that robots aren’t great at - such as tasks that require an understanding of context or an element of creativity – but there are other areas where they excel. Robots are infallibly accurate: they provide the right result first time. The fact that they replicate identical processes eliminates output variations to aid consistency and they’re incredibly reliable and productive.

The use of RPA also has very welcome side effects, such as increased privacy for the talent we work with thanks to limited human exposure to sensitive data. Automated recruitment and selection processes also have a positive impact on diversity and inclusion: recruitment decisions are made truly objectively, rather than being prone to unconscious bias.

While using robotics in the very early stages of recruitment, during first sight of CVs, for example, is now relatively commonplace, the potential of technology throughout the wider HR function should not be overlooked.     

Here at Sopra Steria Recruitment, for example, we are already using non-invasive technology, which is overlaid on existing systems, to increase efficiencies to the benefit of both our own people and the talent and customers we work with. Our robot Winterfell extracts reports from a recruitment platform, and translates the data to feed directly into our payroll tool, while Westeros takes information from various sources to populate our Human Resource Information System (HRIS). Braavos, meanwhile, creates reports from information extracted from our HRIS and automatically emails this information to relevant stakeholders. What’s more, all these bots run 24/7, they don’t take weekends or sick days and, once up and running, they are immune to human error.     

HR is a discipline which habitually deals with vast amounts of sensitive data which must be held and managed in a compliant way. With this in mind, exploring the benefits of RPA implementation should be high on the agendas of HR leaders who are looking to not only streamline processes and get away from the grindstone, but also free up resources to concentrate on stimulating, engaging, high-value projects and initiatives. 

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