Amidst the buzz surrounding automation technologies, one critical factor often overlooked is the role of employees in driving automation success. Far from being mere bystanders, employees are the linchpin of automation initiatives. They play a crucial role in their design, implementation, and ongoing optimization.

In this article, we will explore how employees become the key to automation success. Also, why organizations must prioritize their involvement in automation projects.

What Employees Think Automation Can Affect Their Job

A study by McKinsey & Company found that while 45% of workers believed that automation would have a positive impact on their jobs by increasing efficiency and productivity, 37% expressed concerns about potential job displacement due to automation. A survey conducted by Gallup in 2019 revealed that 76% of workers believed that automation would significantly change their current job responsibilities in the future, with 58% expressing concerns about the possibility of their jobs being replaced by automation.

What do these tell us?

The Negative Perception

When considering automation, employees often have varying perceptions about how it may affect their jobs. These perceptions can significantly impact the success of automation initiatives. Some employees may view automation with skepticism or fear. They fear that it will render their roles obsolete or diminish their importance within the organization. They may worry about job loss, displacement, or having to adapt to new technologies and processes. These lead to anxiety and resistance to change.

How to Shift the Perspective?

Regardless of their initial perceptions, effective communication and transparency from organizational leadership are crucial. This is to address employees’ concerns and misconceptions about automation. Providing clear explanations of the goals, benefits, and implications of automation initiatives can help alleviate fears and build trust among employees. Involving employees in the decision-making process and soliciting their input can empower them to actively participate in shaping the future of their roles within the organization.

The Positive Perception

Conversely, other employees may perceive automation as an opportunity for growth and development. They may see automation as a means to streamline repetitive tasks. With automation allowing them to focus on more strategic or value-added activities. These employees may welcome automation as a way to enhance their productivity, efficiency, and job satisfaction. They view it as a tool to empower them rather than replace them.

How to Support the Perspective?

Organizations must prioritize providing training and upskilling opportunities to help employees adapt to the changes brought about by automation. By investing in employee development and equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge to leverage automation technologies effectively, organizations can mitigate resistance to change and foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement.

Engaging Employees to Embrace Automation

Employee engagement begins with effective communication and transparency regarding the goals and objectives of automation projects. By involving employees in the decision-making process and soliciting their input, organizations can ensure that automation initiatives are aligned with business needs and address the challenges faced by frontline workers. Providing employees with opportunities to contribute their ideas and suggestions for automation solutions not only empowers them but also leads to better outcomes and increased ownership of the automation process.

What Happens when We Exclude Employees?

When employees are excluded from the automation process, several negative consequences can arise, undermining the success and effectiveness of automation initiatives.

It may cause resistance and lack of buy-in from frontline workers, who feel alienated and disengaged from decision-making. Without their input, organizations risk overlooking crucial insights into workflow inefficiencies and areas for improvement. This is potentially deploying solutions that fail to meet end-user needs.

Excluding employees will limit opportunities for innovation and process optimization, as their creative ideas and problem-solving skills are sidelined. This exclusion can foster a culture of mistrust and resentment, diminishing morale and hindering organizational change efforts. Involving employees from the outset is crucial to maximize the effectiveness of automation initiatives, leveraging their expertise, creativity, and commitment to drive meaningful change and achieve sustainable success.

How to Help Your Employees Embrace Automation?

Empowering Employees Through Training and Upskilling

Training equips employees with necessary skills, increasing proficiency in using automation tools to streamline processes. Well-trained employees adopt automation more readily, leading to widespread usage and greater benefits realization. Training fosters innovation, as proficient employees explore new ways to leverage technology for business growth. It ensures adaptability to evolving automation technologies, maintaining competitiveness. Investing in training can boost job satisfaction and retention, fostering a motivated and productive workforce.

Read more: Boost Employees Wellbeing at Workplace by Implementing Intelligent Automation

Fostering a Culture of Collaboration and Communication

Successful automation initiatives thrive on collaboration and open communication between employees and automation teams. By breaking down silos and promoting cross-functional collaboration, organizations can leverage the collective expertise and insights of their workforce to identify opportunities for automation and design solutions that meet the needs of all stakeholders.

Harnessing Employee Feedback for Continuous Improvement

Employee feedback serves as a valuable source of information for driving continuous improvement in automation processes. By soliciting feedback from employees on their experiences with automation tools and processes, organizations can identify pain points, inefficiencies, and areas for optimization that may have gone unnoticed otherwise.

Encouraging a culture of feedback and openness enables organizations to address issues promptly, refine automation solutions, and adapt to changing business needs. Involving employees in the decision-making process regarding automation enhancements and updates fosters a sense of ownership and commitment to the success of automation initiatives.

Measuring Impact and Demonstrating ROI

Measuring the impact of employee involvement in automation projects is essential for demonstrating the return on investment (ROI) of automation initiatives. By tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) such as productivity gains, cost savings, and customer satisfaction levels, organizations can quantify the benefits of employee-driven automation initiatives and justify future investments in automation technology.

Capturing qualitative feedback from employees on their experiences with automation projects provides valuable insights into the intangible benefits of automation, such as improved job satisfaction, reduced stress levels, and increased job autonomy. By combining quantitative metrics with qualitative feedback, organizations can paint a comprehensive picture of the impact of employee involvement on automation successs. They can also make data-driven decisions to drive continuous improvement.

Conclusion

Employees are not just passive recipients of automation technologies; they are active participants and enablers of automation success. With this employees involvements, organizations can ensure that automation becomes a catalyst for positive change, innovation, and success.

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Written by: Kezia Nadira