South American retailer shares lessons learned in its move to HR automation

BrandPost By Kevin Coughlin, Director of Product Management
May 16, 20236 mins
Build Automation
Business Man and woman standing working together on a digital tablet
Credit: courtneyk

Behind the scenes at one of South America’s largest retail conglomerates, human resources (HR) professionals manage the movement of tens of thousands of employees. Hit by a recent spike in turnover, one thing became clear to the company’s HR team: their records system needed a serious upgrade.

With annual sales in the billions, the retail giant prides itself on delivering superior shopping experiences to customers. Its mix includes exclusive private brands and thousands of brick-and-mortar stores. As such, records are coordinated among multiple systems.

When the retailer faced workforce reductions, difficulties were felt all around1. The company needed to streamline the flow of employee information, making legal processes more efficient. HR leadership set out to find the right technology solution to meet these needs.

What they achieved was an advanced records system, a secure end-to-end process, and cloud access to files across multiple systems. This newfound automation and integration, via the Iron Mountain Human Resources solution2, provides a single source of truth and real-time access to employee records. It helps automate notices of process delays and supports swift document retrieval.

The solution enabled a cohesive approach to legal matters, resulting in a 30% reduction in financial losses, saving the company $30M annually. The HR department also shortened its document processing from 90 days to less than 10 days. And now the retailer keeps customized management reports for continuous monitoring.

This success story sounds impressive, but it’s also within reach for any company whose HR leadership welcomes technology innovations. As one recent CIO Magazine article noted: “The underlying technologies that support key HR functions … help today’s CHROs achieve maximum human capital management efficiency3. ”

Find the right information and get it into the right hands

Most HR departments work to maintain a balance between physical and digital employee records. Often the result is separate systems and inefficient processes. These records could provide a comprehensive picture of current and former staff. Files include everything from initial contract negotiations to performance reviews and benefit selections.

Yet, unstructured HR operations can be detrimental. Problems include a lack of coordination across departments, a lengthy document lead time of 30 to 90 days, and an absence of embedded business rules.

Without modern technology, the HR team also does not have the benefit of push notifications. When someone leaves the company, there is often no automatic way to notify relevant parties with government-mandated documents. HR teams must manually search and send records—making it more time-consuming to find the right information, get it into the right hands, and support informed decisions.

One recent analysis on the impact of HR technology noted, “HR departments are turning to automation to streamline their processes and reduce workload. While automation may not replace the need for human interaction in HR, it can help these professionals focus on more strategic and value-adding tasks4. ”

For the South American retailer, a lack of automation hindered progress. The system upgrade corrected this problem. With a smooth process in place, the HR team can focus on a more strategic approach to employee turnover. After implementing the Iron Mountain Human Resources software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, the company was able to:
● Securely access HR records in the cloud
● Boost collaboration and productivity through automated workflows5
● Integrate with eSignature and existing HR systems
● Help meet legal retention obligations

A business case for automation

Beyond its demonstrated usefulness in easing employee turnover and improving legal compliance, HR automation extends advantages across the department and enterprise.

Named one of the top ten HR trends for the 2023 workplace, HR automation “delivers value in increasing the speed to hire and enhancing the employee experience by providing more self-service solutions6. ”

While many HR professionals concentrate on tactical matters and partnerships within their organizations, the administrative aspects of the job grow more difficult. Leading organizations are facilitating those administrative duties with HR automation. The return on investment (ROI) confirms they are making a smart decision.

Consider this example. The current out-of-pocket cost to onboard a new hire is $5,000, while automated onboarding would cost $4,000, saving $1,000 (or 20%). Each new hire generates $10,000 per week once they reach full productivity but only $6,000 per week during the 10-week onboarding process. Their total productivity would equal $60,000. Automation would bring new employees to full productivity in only six weeks, raising productivity by $4,000 per week for four weeks—a net increase of $16,000. Saving $1,000 in costs and boosting productivity by $16,000, with an automation investment of $500, equals a net gain of $16,500 per new hire7.

Now that more workplaces are adopting hybrid office-remote environments, efficient employee onboarding is imperative. Not only does it shorten the time it takes for new employees to become productive, but it can also provide better employee experience and help reduce turnover in the first months after hiring.

At all stages, HR teams must ensure employee documentation is complete, up to date, and managed in compliance with ever-changing laws and regulations. Performing these tasks manually—tracking missing acknowledgements and producing audit reporting—becomes tedious and intensive. Automation offers a wise alternative.

Selecting the right HR automation solution is a key first step. It could also be an overwhelming one as the global HR technology market size is projected to reach a valuation of nearly $24B this year8.

The experts at Iron Mountain are making digital transformation less complex. In fact, they have partnered with to create resources including a white paper9, webinar series10, and insightful infographics11 —all dedicated to the topic of HR information management.

For more information about leading solutions to transform HR operations and achieve HR automation, visit Advancing the HR Function.