HR teams are under financial strain1, 2. This lowers their recruitment capacity, training and development opportunities, and retention capabilities. Therefore, they should find ways to increase their operational efficiency whilst maintaining fiscal discipline.
HR automation can be a one strategy for streamlining everyday tasks. But again, not all companies can afford an end-to-end HR automation tool. And considering that the majority of companies worldwide are SMBs – with, supposedly, “limited” budgets – the next company wishing to automate its HR processes could fall in that category.
We recommend HR departments that have limited budgets – or are simply looking for a useful and accessible tool irregardless of price – to consider WhatsApp for automating some of their processes. This article will explain why WhatsApp is suitable for HR professionals, and showcase the top 25 related categories where they can be used across HR tasks.
Why is WhatsApp suitable for HR professionals?
WhatsApp is the most widely used messaging application in the world, with 2M daily active users. So it’s widely accessible to users (offering both mobile and desktop versions), and already ingrained in our daily lives. So, the HR departments wishing to use this app as their primary communication channel would have minimal learning curve from their own teams, employees, and potential candidates.
In addition, WhatsApp is economical. For small companies, WhatsApp Business is free. And should a company’s needs warrant the purchasing of WhatsApp Business API, the first 1,000 conversations are also free of charge.
Having said that, to access advanced capabilities that WhatsApp itself doesn’t offer, but is made possible with its API – like integration features, advanced analytics, and generative AI – companies should partner with an external vendor at an additional fee.
What are the use cases of WhatsApp in HR?
This section will discuss the specific use cases of WhatsApp for HR departments.
- QR codes: Companies can generate a QR code that would allow the applicant to join a private chat where they can present their credentials.
- CTA button: Companies can create a CTA button on their online job advertisement, instead of a QR code. The button would include a hyperlink that takes the user to the chat.
- Phone number: The most primitive way, companies can put their phone number for candidates to add on their own phones, and start a conversation.
- Pre-screening candidates: The WhatsApp bot can ask a series of pre-written questions, or send a questionnaire file, for preliminary assessment.
- Answering FAQs: Potential hires can ask the chatbot FAQ questions.
- Talent pools: The HR department can create a separate group of all candidates who’d applied, but weren’t hired at the time. So if, ever, they’d need a Python developer, for instance, hiring managers can send a broadcast message informing them.
- Candidate feedback: After an interview, HR can use WhatsApp for feedback which can be used to address the shortcomings of the recruitment process.
- Welcome kits: All new employees on the same WhatsApp group can receive their orientation schedules, HQ’s physical location address, the company policies, contracts, introductory videos, and other related documents.
- Video calls: HR teams can schedule their individual or group calls (up to 32 people) on WhatsApp. Although it doesn’t have features like screen sharing, it’s useful for quick calls.
- Real-time announcements: Policy changes, job openings, vacation days, milestone achievements, or upcoming events can be announced on the company’s general WhatsApp group.
- Feedback mechanisms: One of the HR jobs is running surveys and collecting feedback. So, on internal topics, companies can:
- Pose questions and manually record the responses.
- Create a survey on an external tool, like Google Forms, and send the link on the WhatsApp group.
- Partner with vendors like Qualtrics that can create interactive surveys
- Compartmentalization: WhatsApp’s groups are primitive compared to Discord’s channels. Nevertheless, they are useful for creating different groups such as:
- An internal HR WhatsApp group for the HR staff themselves
- Recruitment and onboarding group between the HR staff and hiring managers
- Leadership and management for addressing leadership training, updates, or strategic discussions
Attendance and absence management
- Automated responses: HR teams can create automated responses to absence management. For example:
- The employee could send a “PTO request message.” The bot understands the keyword and picks the relevant response from its knowledge base, such as: “Thank you for informing us about your PTO request. We will review it and get back to you soon.” If you want to create such a response:
- WhatsApp can also be integrated into the company’s ERP to automatically handle more advanced, yet time consuming tasks. For example, the staff could ask how many personal days they have left. WhatsApp would send an API call to the ERP, retrieve the info, and relay it back.
- Daily check-in/out: Employees can send “check-in” or “check-out” messages to a designated HR WhatsApp number or group at the start and end of their workday. And if the HR staff wants to count these manually, they can filter through the messages by the employee’s specific name.
- Location sharing: Employees working off-site or at client meetings can use the ‘Share Live Location’ feature for proof of their whereabouts during working hours, if needed.
- Late arrivals: Employees who are running late can notify the HR team about their delay and ETA.
- Automated notifications: Set up reminders or notifications about significant dates, holidays, or end-of-year leave clearance. Cooby, for instance, is a Chrome extension for WhatsApp that lets you create personalized notifications.
Training and development
- Resource distribution: The human resources department can use the Catalogue feature to showcase company benefits, training programs, or events as “products” for employees to browse through.
- Training reminders: Forget about missed training sessions; reminders can ensure participants are well-prepared and punctual.
- Direct helpline: Having a dedicated WhatsApp line for employee concerns or assistance can provide immediate support, from administrative queries to mental health resources. Although there are dedicated therapist chatbots, if you wish to transform your WhatsApp into one, you can use the WhatsApp Business API feature to connect it into open-source chatbot platforms to develop it.
- Anonymous feedback: WhatsApp doesn’t support anonymous messages. But it can be used to share 3rd-party survey tools for capturing anonymous employee feedback.
- Event announcements and RSVPs: Events’ details, such as venue location, promotional materials (in different formats like PDFs, images, and videos), and RSVP forms can be sent on a separate group for that event alone. Moreover, if the event is particularly large, you can create broadcast lists to send mass messages without clogging up group chats.
Maintaining external Relations
- Engaging alumni: The HR team can create a separate group for ex-employees. Although there are possible negatives to this, such as having to moderate the chats to ensure they are productive and respectful, positive implications could include:
- Feedback collection
- Sharing re-hiring opportunities
- Discussing partnership ventures between the organization and an employee’s current parent company
- Fostering goodwill
- Partner and vendor communication: Creating separate groups to message recruitment agencies, external trainers, insurance providers, retirement managers, office supply vendors, legal teams, or other HR-related service providers.
- Receipts submission: For employee travels and assignments, HR can create a group and only invite the employees who’d go on a certain trip. They can then send pictures of their invoices directly on WhatsApp instead of emailing them or submitting them in person.
- Note that there are expense management software solutions that offer conversational AI capabilities. But we found no major 3rd party vendor offering WhatsApp integration.
- AI Recruitment: Top 6 Operational & Ethical Benefits
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- In-Depth Guide Into Recruiting Chatbots
If you want to invest in a conversational AI tool, explore our data-driven lists of:
And if you have any questions, reach out to us:
Cem has been the principal analyst at AIMultiple since 2017. AIMultiple informs hundreds of thousands of businesses (as per similarWeb) including 60% of Fortune 500 every month.
Cem's work has been cited by leading global publications including Business Insider, Forbes, Washington Post, global firms like Deloitte, HPE, NGOs like World Economic Forum and supranational organizations like European Commission. You can see more reputable companies and media that referenced AIMultiple.
Throughout his career, Cem served as a tech consultant, tech buyer and tech entrepreneur. He advised businesses on their enterprise software, automation, cloud, AI / ML and other technology related decisions at McKinsey & Company and Altman Solon for more than a decade. He also published a McKinsey report on digitalization.
He led technology strategy and procurement of a telco while reporting to the CEO. He has also led commercial growth of deep tech company Hypatos that reached a 7 digit annual recurring revenue and a 9 digit valuation from 0 within 2 years. Cem's work in Hypatos was covered by leading technology publications like TechCrunch and Business Insider.
Cem regularly speaks at international technology conferences. He graduated from Bogazici University as a computer engineer and holds an MBA from Columbia Business School.
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