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Automation helped HR through stress of pandemic

New research has found 73% of HR professionals said automation helped them survive the heavy workload created by coronavirus.

Almost all (94%) UK employees said their jobs included tasks that were repetitive, time-consuming and exacerbated by the pandemic, according to research by IT company Zapier.

However, nine out of 10 HR professionals surveyed said automation helped to improve the day-to-day working lives of employees, as it removed any monotonous tasks from already stressful days.

Automating essential business functions during the pandemic such as, recruitment and backing up files and data, led to 56% of HR professionals believing the workforce had been more productive.  

Chris Patrick, people business partner at Zapier, told HR magazine that being able to automate certain tasks helped free up valuable time HR teams needed to deal with more sensitive issues, such as furlough. 

He said: “Automation eliminates the repetitive, time-consuming tasks that no one likes doing.

"When employees don’t have to worry about these tasks, they have more mental energy to focus on projects that require creativity and strategic thinking."

Patrick said it is not surprising an employee would have a positive reaction to this.

"An employee is more likely to feel valued, may be excited to take on a stretch project, and likely feel less stressed since they don’t have to tackle mountains of busy work," he said. 

Automation in the workplace:

Increased automation drives employee mental health concerns

Automation more likely to affect female workers

Focus on ‘humanlike’ skills to mitigate impact of automation

Removing repetitive tasks is considered key by HR to reducing stress among workers: 77% said using automation has helped them fight burnout during the pandemic.

Over half (53%) also said they are now less stressed overall because they have automated tasks.

Patrick said Zapier’s people operations team has a number of automations that help them reduce day-to-day stresses.

“For instance, when someone has an address change, our Zap will respond with step-by-step instructions on what systems they need to update.

“This saves our team countless hours manually copy and pasting the same responses to people every day,” he said.