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Employee Engagement in the Age of Automation

July 4, 2019 - Sathya Ganesan

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Not since the Industrial Revolution has technology been as pervasive as it is today. With its promise of efficiency, intelligence, and insight, the power of AI is transforming the world of work faster than anyone imagined. Businesses that use AI-powered innovation like automation intelligently can now experience greater success while using fewer resources all while uncovering new opportunities for growth.

As the buzz word goes, the change has substantial ramifications for human workers across the world. While that debate is extensive, as is the ‘technology vs human beings’ argument, that’s not what this article is looking to solve. In a capitalist system, companies will inevitably strive for efficiency to drive bottom-line results. There are, however, several intangibles that have an equally significant role to play in growth, profitability and longevity. Employee motivation easily tops this list. So, how does a business that is trimming the fat communicate with empathy and clarity? What can it say to its employees to confirm that automation is not a threat, but an opportunity? Here are some aspects of the transition that employers can communicate and employees should consider as automation plays a more substantial part in their organization.

Time

Easily the most significant benefit of automation at the base level is time. Most companies spend an excessive amount of time performing repetitive tasks to a moderate level of accuracy. If an employee leaves a company, the additional strain on the team means the instinct is to look for a replacement, but what if you didn’t need to. What if you could focus on deploying a software-based bot instead and use that hiring budget for a more strategic role? It’s a win-win situation – for the company and the team.

The big one – Work-life balance

Work-life balance is one of the most debated topics in corporate culture. The challenge is that the idea means different things to different people. For instance, the needs of a single hire may be very different from an employee with a family. The long hours can take a toll on their personal life and adversely affect performance. What if you struck a balance at work? Instead of automating the role entirely because of the manual intervention required to ensure compliance, you optimize the process. With tools like AssistEdge, specifically AssistEdge Engage, you can create a process where the tool performs all the actions until the stage manual signoff is required before resuming once the review is complete. These hybrid process models could redefine process delivery and provide work-life balance much to the delight of employees also alleviating their concerns about automation taking away their jobs.

Quality and Accuracy

Automation has a direct impact on both the quality of the work product and the quality of the talent within a company. For instance, a US retail giant had a substantial budget allocated for the refiling of sales tax owing to manual errors. Deploying robots meant that the quality and accuracy of the work product improved significantly. Given the sheer volume of the workload, the blame for this inaccuracy cannot rest entirely with the analysts. By completing even complex repetitive tasks, an automation solution can inject vigour and growth into any organization. Furthermore, by reducing the hiring need for such tasks, teams can now focus on creating value-driven roles. Organizations can assess employees on their ability to generate value and deploy intrinsically human skills like people management, creativity, and strategy.

So, there you have it. Irrespective of innovation, transformation, or evolution, great organizations will always be built by inspired people. To motivate your teams, it is crucial that you have a culture of clarity, transparency, and learning. After all, the issue is no longer whether you will automate, when you will automate, or how you will automate. Each of those is a given. The real question to ask is – when you do make the change, will it be in a way that rallies your people? The speed of your answer could determine your future. Remember, Rome was not built in a day.

Slow and steady, the robots are ready.

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