Meet this computer, it’s your new automated HR person

I often think about all of these new HR platforms and software automation programs rolled out to small businesses.

These programs tout many amazing things like the fact that employers will be able to handle administration with a click of a button. Or that insurance/payroll/hr can be automated to the point where you won’t need someone in those roles.  I’m actually surprised that these systems don’t say that they’ll generate top-line revenue for your company (maybe some day automation will).

Aside from administration being a total pain in the ass, I do believe that it serves a useful purpose. Young folks entering into the HR field these days will gain valuable experience filling out forms and documents.

It’s not the act of filling out documents, but understanding other crucial elements of “document completion” which include:

1.  Why the documents are being filled out;
2.  Who requires the documents to be filled out;
2.  Where can I take shortcuts and where can I definitely not take shortcuts;
3.  What happens if the documents aren’t filled out the right way during automation;
4.  Am I aware of the consequences of an incorrectly filled out form;
5.  What happens in those weird, one-off instances where the system doesn’t know what to do;
6.  When an employee signs something and I sign something, what does that really mean?

Here’s an automation example:

I used to handle HR administration back in the days of Third Eye Blind and Crystal Pepsi, and one of the things that I did was complete an I9 and go over it with employees.  I9’s were my bread and butter, so well in fact that I went to a training session from an HR executive and an immigration attorney. I left feeling like I could teach class to other HR folks.  It was incredibly informative, but it was put on by a lawyer, and we all know how I feel about lawyers.  Lots of great information learned at that session. Like, potential pitfalls, what to do in strange circumstances, and even the intricacies of collecting identification documents. I know. I was a nerd.

Fast forward to today where many companies are using HRIS platforms, benefit systems, and online document completion.

I was talking to friend of mine who owns a small engineering firm about how they complete I9’s. He just replied with “The system does it.”  The hair on the back of my neck stood up a little, but I didn’t bristle.  I then asked how the system handled remote employees.  The response again was “I just click a box and the system handles the rest.”  So, at this point I didn’t argue (although I thought about sending him in the direction of the closest Immigration Attorney). But I did tell him to be careful in case he ever has an I9 audit.

I’m not saying that companies need to hire a person just to handle I9’s. And I’m also not saying that they shouldn’t use I9 software or automation. What I am saying is that anyone signing an I9 should be aware of the proper way to complete the document. They should also be aware of the consequences for not completing an I9 correctly.  Most of the individuals signing I9’s don’t even realize that they’re signing them under the penalty of perjury.  And if things go badly, and a Notice of Inspection hits your mailbox, you better be sure that “The system handles my I9’s” is not going to please a Department of Labor rep.

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