It works for me #7…. delegating and automating what you can

In today's 'It works for me...' Aytekin Tank, CEO of Jobform, sings the praises of delegating and automating what you can

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May 24, 2023

Regular visitors to will know that we are unabashedly proud about the power of progressive HR.

But to really be the voice of the HR sector, it’s the views of HR practitioners themselves that matter.

That’s why we’ve introduced ‘It works for me…’ – articles written by ordinary HR folk, about the issues that impact them on a day-to-day basis. They aim to present easily actionable observations made ‘by’ HR professionals ‘for’ HR professionals.

Last time around we heard from Judy Courtney, VP human resources at media company, New York Interconnect, on how she’s creating a new workplace environment focusing on supporting employee wellbeing

This time, around, we hear from Aytekin Tank, founder and CEO of Jotform. He argues the biggest difference to his life has been learning what to delegate and automate. So much so, that he’s written a new book on the subject – Automate your Busywork – which came out last week.

It works for me #7… delegating and automating what you can

Hiring has always been one of my priorities.

More than 17 years ago, when I started my company Jotform, it was just me.

Slowly, we grew to a small but mighty team. I interviewed and chose every candidate myself, everyone from product development to customer service, I also had a hand in everything else. In other words, I wore all of the hats.

But as our business grew, I realized I was spreading myself too thin. I was suffering from serious burnout. What’s more, I could no longer concentrate on my core responsibilities like hiring, at least not to the extent that I hoped.

At the same time, colossal competitors like Google were tossing their hats into the online form ring. I knew something had to change.

In time however, I have discovered the two secrets that I believe help my continue to sustainably growing my company without burning the candle at both ends: delegation and automation.

I started delegating tasks that could be handled as well (or better) by someone else on my team, while for the tasks that I wanted to manage myself, like hiring, I automated as much of the process as possible, leaving ample room for the parts I enjoyed – like meeting new candidates and learning about their past and their goals.

Automation – HR’s secret weapon

I truly believe automation can be HR’s secret weapon.

The main discovery was the way good automation significantly eliminated tedious busy work and saved my brain for the big stuff.

Automation is especially useful around workflows.

Our workdays are comprised of many different types of workflows. For HR professionals, processes like employee onboarding, employee offboarding, performance reviews, travel requests, leave requests, employee status changes, timesheet approvals, screening and hiring new employees, training, and document requests all exist. But these can all be broken down into workflows.

To me, the power of mapping out workflows is that they eliminate ambiguity and reduce the number of choices we have to make.

You may have heard of the paradox of choice. In short, economists and psychologists have found that too many options can paralyze people or push them into making illogical decisions.

When we have a workflow, however, we know that we move from A to B to C every time. Even if there’s a detour, we know what to expect.

For example, say you’re hiring a new employee. Mapping out the steps ahead of time, the workflow might look something like this:

  • Create a requisition for a new hire and assign someone to write the job description.
  • Get approval for the draft description.
  • Post the job description on an internal website, major employment sites, and on social media.
  • Identify resumes that match the qualification threshold, e.g., training or number of years in the field.

In turn, this would trigger the employee screening workflow:

  • Human resources contacts the selected candidates to schedule a phone or online interview.
  • Candidates who do well are scheduled for interviews with managers, team leads, or other decision-makers.
  • Management meets to determine who is the best fit for the role. HR makes an official offer to the selected candidate.
  • Once the offer is accepted, HR sets a start date and sends out any information required to prepare the candidate for their first day.
  • The new employee’s first day would then trigger the onboarding workflow, and so on.

I love workflows. On an individual level, each stakeholder knows what’s expected of them. On an organizational level, everyone is on the same page. Workflows help to reduce errors, confusion, and ultimately, save time.

Incorporating the best automation tools for your needs

Once I understood better workflows, the next logical step for me was identifying where to incorporate automated tools.

I’ve discovered that there isn’t a tool for every task. For example, creative writing and strategic thinking cannot be completed by an app – not even ChatGPT.

But for every task that can be automated, there are plenty of tools to choose from.

Take the quotidian HR duty of posting job descriptions to multiple sites.

Rather than manually doing it, site by site by site, there are tools like ZipRecruiter to send job descriptions to over 100 job sites with just a click.

Or, consider the HR task of pre-screening job candidates. Ceridian and Harver will automatically rank and grade candidates to pre-qualify those who are a good fit, then move them forward in the interviewing and hiring process.

Even on a more granular level, automated tools can speed up a multi-step workflow. Like Jotform Approvals for automated approval forms, BambooHR for creating new hire welcome packets, and for automatic note-taking.

As long as a task is recurring and involves little-to-no personal input (at least, once created), in my view, it’s a candidate for automation. I suggest browsing a review site, like G2, will help you identify the best tools for your organization’s needs.

Final thoughts

Today, people are changing jobs at a greater frequency than ever before. While it’s not necessarily a bad thing, for HR departments, the workload it creates can be overwhelming.

With better, more considered automation, HR departments can carry out all their core duties without sacrificing the quality of their work, or their mental health.

It may take an initially time investment, but once your workflows and automated tools are in place, you’ll immediately see results.

Your daily workload will not only feel lighter, but more meaningful as well.

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