Can workflow help me create new contacts from a list in a CSV file?
Maybe, but not much. You could use Workflow to transform the CSV into vCard that you could manually open and import, if I recall contact imports correctly.
Many online mail services have CSV import options available natively through their web mail interfaces. You will almost certainly havemore luck with that approach, but it does depend upon who you use for your e-mail and assuming you sync your contacts with that service.
Do you happen to have a mac around? the contacts app on macos can import a csv file.
You then could use drafts (or some other editor on iOS in combination with workflow) to store contact information in a file in iCloud.
You could then have Hazel monitor that directory and import the CSV from there with an applescript.
or is that automation for automation sake