When an organization looks to optimize its handling of human resource data, the focus of attention is invariably on the HR application itself – what information it stores, how it stores it, and a staff’s ability to act on it. And yet there is another source of HR data that is too often overlooked, or is pointedly ignored. And that source is incoming email.
Human resource departments receive a heck of a lot of email – most of it from potential hires and personnel agencies, but also email messages from HR service providers, payroll processors, health care providers, and the like. Some forward-thinking HR organizations provide internal HR-specific email addresses (e.g., hr@our_company.com), so that employees have an easy way to submit HR-related questions and requests.
But where do those emails go – and even more importantly, whose job is it to keep an eye out for them and just how quickly do they respond to them?
All too often, generic email accounts like hr@our_company.com are places where email messages go to die. And it’s not a quick death either; it’s a slow, withering death where the originator of the email gradually realizes that no one is going to get back to them – and they resolve never to rely on that email address again. And that’s too bad, because in this time of fiscal belt-tightening and staff reductions, an organization needs to use all the available tools at hand to do more with less and to automate HR processes are currently done manually.
And monitoring incoming email in is the ideal candidate for such automation.
Even if an organization doesn’t use generic email accounts, chances are good that they have a website with forms that allow a visitor to “contact HR”, send in their resume, or otherwise communicate with a company’s HR department.
And those web forms create emails.
Human resource information that comes in to your organization via email – whether from prospective hires, external service providers, or internal staff – is every bit as important as the information that you store within your HR application. You can’t ignore the mail, and yet making it an “oh – by the way . . . “ task assigned to an HR employee whose plate is already full is not only unfair, it’s doomed to failure.
Most importantly, the handling of incoming email can be turned from a negative into a positive. By adopting a system that automatically monitors incoming email, an HR organization can:
- Identify incoming job applications & resumes and automatically trigger a “thank you” email back to the sender.
- Use web forms to capture specific types of HR-related requests and auto-route those requests to the appropriate person(s) within your HR organization.
- Take the content from incoming messages and have it automatically update the corresponding information in your HR application.
And as useful as the above can be, a system of automated email monitoring can yield far more benefit than merely automating tasks that were previously done manually. An “email response system” (ERS) enables you to expand – and optimize – the services that your HR organization provides to your organization’s staff. For example:
- An employee who wants to know their eligible vacation-time could automatically receive this by just sending an email to the ERS system.
- A manager who has an employee coming up for review could simply email the ERS system and automatically receive the appropriate review forms and employee-specific documents.
- A staff member whose certifications are about to expire could fill out an intranet-based web form to request a status report of all their certifications, along with instructions on how to renew them.
So – instead of dreading the arrival of HR-related email, use that business process as the initiative to implement a system of automated email monitoring and response. And in response to the question “Exactly what HR data do you monitor?”, you can honestly answer “All of it.”