How to Avoid HR Automation’s Biggest Traps

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The world of human relations is becoming increasingly digital, and increasingly automated. And you know what?

How to Avoid HR Automation's Biggest Traps

This is a good thing! Automating and digitizing your hiring process makes it faster, easier, and more efficient.


Think of it as the next step in a long line of labor saving devices. The history of convenience appliances goes back to the turn of the century, when people began developing and implementing hot and cold running water in their homes. Things like kitchen mixers, vacuum cleaners, and washing machines followed. It may seem pretty crazy, but when you think about it, HR management software isn’t all that different.

Strip it down to its most basic, and what does HR software do for you? It lets you do your job faster, more easily, and with fewer steps. Exactly like the labor saving devices of the good ol’ days. (Hot water comes from the tap so you don’t have to pump and boil it, a vacuum cleans faster than a broom and a rug beater, popping a load in the washing machine is much faster than scrubbing by hand, etc, etc.) It’s the same concept, just a bit more modern.

What did you do before you had software? Probably crunched your own numbers. Companies had entire departments who did nothing but repetitive, boring, basic math just to figure out payroll. Throw in the need to do scheduling by hand, applicant tracking and hiring without any computer programs to help you sort and compare and keep all those resumes and interview notes straight, and relying on single, slow face-to-face meetings as the only way to see how your employees are doing… yikes. It’s a lot.

Automation and software is your future. Always has been, even if it’s pretty far removed from being excited about a stand mixer. That’s easy to accept, but what’s harder is staying on the cutting edge of all the new changes and trends.

It doesn’t have to be that way! Here’s what’s on the digital HR horizon, and how you can stay on the edge of the trend without cutting yourself on it.

Recruiting and Hiring

How are you going to manage your talent if your office is empty? Recruiting and hiring software, mobile hiring apps, and applicant tracking systems are what help you find, connect with, and sort the new blood your company needs.

How it’s automating

Sure you could toss a job posting up on Monster and hope for the best. But is that really the best way to go about hiring someone? Hiring software can generate a unique jobs page for your business, and can integrate your hiring with social media, which brings applicants to you instead of you going out looking for them.

Applicant tracking software sorts resumes, reformats them into the same format for easier comparison, and lets you search for the perfect candidate by using keywords. You’ll never read an irrelevant resume again.


Hiring automation is becoming so good that some people are starting to worry that algorithms will replace human hiring staff. That worry makes sense when you see how good these programs can be. But companies need to be wary of leaning too heavily on machines. The bottom line is always the same: algorithms are good, but they’re still no replacement for human interaction. That means you still need to review incoming candidates.

And programs are only as good as their programmers. If you’re not careful, they’ll throw the baby out with the bathwater because they don’t even realize a baby is there. So when setting up your ATS to only show you the resumes you want, make sure you’re not accidentally filtering out relevant resumes, too.

It’s best to run through the hiring process as an applicant, submitting a resume through your own form, and following all the other steps dictated by the system to ensure it’s working as you need it to before forcing real applicant through the tool.

Leave and Time Tracking

Managing scheduling, paid time off, sick days, holidays, and overtime is a massive chore. Back in the day when this was all done on paper alone, leave and time tracking was a task that needed a team of people dedicated to it and nothing else. I imagine they were the hyper-organized sort of people with a filofax and a photographic memory. Sure you might be that way, but aren’t you glad you don’t have to be?

How it’s automating

Instead of having to manually enter and erase ever-shifting employee hours, why not use a system that allows employees to enter availability themselves so you can just line them up when you need them?

Why keep a physical calendar or fiddle around with Google Calendar with you can have employees log in and mark their days off on their own?

Built-in automatic legal compliancy tools add another dimension of helpfulness to workforce management software. One less thing to worry about is always good.


I’m an optimist. And I really believe in the good of all people. But people can get dishonest with time tracking, especially if its manual. Even if you think that your system can’t be tricked, it probably can. Is your tracker based on mouse movement? Attach a small moving toy to the mouse. Does it log the open window on your employee’s screen? Have Netflix in the background with a tiny Excel window over top. And the more tech savvy your employees, the more potential they have to cheat the system.

No software, no matter how fancy, will be better than a culture of honesty and integrity in your workforce. If you have a problem with employees being straightforward about their hours worked, a software isn’t going to fix it without culture changes to match.

Performance Appraisal

Everyone hates performance reviews, right? They’re stressful enough for the employees being reviewed, but just as bad is trying to keep track of a person’s specific highs and lows over the course of a quarter or (gulp) a year. Do you ever wish that something else could keep track of these things for you, or give you a full readout for each employee so you don’t need to?

Performance appraisal software is way ahead of you.

How it’s automating

Ongoing/real-time feedback is a feature offered by many software tools. Instead of one giant performance review, it provides consistent, frequent feedback in small doses, allowing for better overall performance. And your younger employees will love it.

Is an employee doing fine, but needs a little more training to do great? You can assign and track training completion easily with several software options.

When compensation is performance-based, it adds a new layer of complication. But not when your compensation tracking is built-in already.


Having a system to track performance can make it very tempting to craft performance goals to match. After all, the system will track it for you!

But avoid setting goals until your new software gives you an idea of how your employees perform. You need a starting line before you can make a finish line. If you set goals too low, you may lower your team’s performance.

Take some time to get to know your new software and look at performance before using it to set goals. When you’re ready, you can set those goals so much better.


Payroll is why business software was invented. Think of a giant company attempting to hand-crunch all the numbers. All the overtime, all the differing hourly rates, all the paid time off, all the unpaid time off, all the deductions. For every single employee. Every month. It gives you shivers just to think about, doesn’t it?

If you’re still using a punch card and a calculator, you’re not much better off. Especially if you’re trying to work out benefits outside of payroll. Why torture yourself?

How it’s automating

A computer can track and calculate salaries faster than you ever could. In addition to that, it can handle direct deposits, commission pay, and legal salary compliance.

And heck, you can automate just about all of your workplace math. Why not have a program that also handles retirement, health insurance, bonuses… there’s very little you can’t do with benefit software.


As in all things, being too reliant on technology can cause problems. In this case, watch out for getting behind on software updates. Since benefits packages and salaries can (and do) change often, you’ll want to make sure that someone on your team is updating and checking the system frequently to ensure it accurately reflects existing compensation packages.


When you stop viewing automation as a job-killing point of terror, and start accepting it as a labor saving tool to make your life easier, the world opens up! As long as you take care not to go overboard and avoid the pitfalls, your automated HR will be the extra hand you need.

What other HR software systems do you like? Let me know in the comments.


Looking for Talent Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Talent Management software solutions.

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About the Author


Halden Ingwersen

Halden Ingwersen is a former Capterra analyst.


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