Have you ever heard, “time is money”? In the business world, it is. Universally, business is about productivity, and productivity relates with time. What if there are so much time wasted, which leads to poor productivity?

Poor productivity happens if you are not utilizing most of the working hours properly and wisely. This will limit your business to have opportunities to grow. Imagine having to spend every day trying to increase productivity without actually knowing the cause of your poor productivity.

In most cases, employees are the main reason why a business is having a poor productivity. This happens because they are responsible for mundane, repetitive, and time-consuming tasks that overwhelm them most of the time. Those tasks are the reason why they become unproductive and easily feel exhausted during their working hours. Ironically, even 24 hours are not enough to complete those painful tasks. Report from Clockify states that more than 90% of employees are burdened with boring and recurring tasks. As quoted from Gleematic, employees spend 10-25% of their time on these recurring tasks.

Now, you might be questioning yourself whether you are one of those companies that are spending too much time in recurring tasks and losing productivity. Or maybe, you are unaware whether the tasks you are doing every day are repetitive ones that you should eliminate?

What are recurring tasks?

Recurring tasks, or often called repetitive tasks, are activities that you have to do over and over again. These tasks are mainly the core activities within your job description that comes repeatedly, and you have to deal with them in regular time intervals – can be daily, weekly, or monthly basis. These recurring tasks are monotonous and low-level, that you can actually improve to save more time, cost, and energy.

What are the examples of recurring task?

These recurring tasks relate with what is on your job description. For example, you are from HR department. Recruitment and employee onboarding process are the examples of recurring task. In recruitment process, you would have to process hundreds of applicants’ resumes and manually select, process to schedule interviews, give assignments, follow ups, and more.

The other example is if you are from banking, and one of your main tasks is processing loans proposed from customer. When a customer proposes a loan, there are a lot of verification and authentication documents come with it, and you have not just to manually study and validate them, but also decide whether the loan is approved or rejected. Imagine if you have high numbers of customer proposing loans each day.

Looking more closely, regardless what department you are or what specific tasks you have, recurring tasks can also be checking emails, classifying and organizing documents, data entry, data integration between systems, collecting and extracting data from various sources, generating reports – these processes are not role-specific but general operations in offices which any employee should do to get their main tasks done. These processes tend to be more painful, compared to the role-specific one, as it usually requires you to do so on a daily basis.

How much time do you actually spend on recurring tasks?

Recurring tasks, that mostly include processes that deal with data, are burdening employees to spend – on average – 19 workdays every year on this type of task.

Companies of every size from various industries are losing countless hours because of these recurring tasks. According to Asana’s report “The Anatomy of Work Index”, employees spend 60% of their overall working hours on work coordination – that is categorized as recurring or repetitive task – rather than the other tasks that are more strategic and upskilling. As a result, employees only make use of 26% of their working hours on skilled job to which they were initially hired to do and 14% on forward-looking strategy.

Where do employees spend their time?

According to Asana’s report “The Anatomy of Work Index”, here is the visualization of where employees spend their working hours:

According to the graphic, total time spent on recurring tasks in 2020 is bigger than 2019. What is the cause of this? We can conclude that companies were unaware of their employees spending too much time on doing recurring tasks, and how this could have been a reason in their poor productivity. This also means that companies did not do any strategic improvement to fix this issue.

There is also subcategory of recurring task, which is duplicate task. This includes tasks that someone has already completed, but another employee works on it too. In a nutshell, a same task that two or more employees are working on individually. This happens because there is a lack of clarity on the task distribution, of who is supposed to do what. Quoting the statistics from Asana, employees are spending 13% of their time on work that has already been completed. As a result, employees are losing 236 hours to duplication of efforts a year. This makes duplicate tasks as a global challenge in the business.

Even with so many meetings conducted via video calls or in-person, employees have less clarity on who is doing what, what needs planning, when to execute the plan, what is the goal. This proves that recurring tasks inhibit employees to think more strategic and straightforward. Given that their focus is more towards getting the manual tasks done instead of planning, organizing, and prioritizing tasks that are much more important to tackle.

Another task that is too tedious to work on is organizing emails. According to study by McKinsey, employees spend their average workweek 28% on reading and answering emails, 19% on searching and gathering information, 14% on communicating and collaborating internally, and other 39% on role-specific tasks that may even be repetitive. According to the survey conducted by Adobe, employees spend time checking work emails an average of 3.1 hours!

How do these recurring tasks affect your company?

Relying on manual process to complete recurring tasks in your business can cost the company a lot of things. It is inevitable to lose money, which will push the company to increase operational costs for activities that you can actually improve, and ultimately – losing profits. “Time is money” is highly relatable in this case.

Here are how these recurring tasks are affecting your company:

1. Reduced productivity

Let’s take a simple example of recurring task, which is processing documents to tally data in the system. Your employee has to read documents carefully to extract important data, then enter the data into one system, and update it into another system. Then your employee has to do consolidation of the data from all the sources. Imagine having to do this every day as there will always be new documents coming in to process. This simplest workflow can consume a lot of time and keep your employees in doing the repetitive task all over again – when your employees are also obliged to do other tasks? Won’t this affect their productivity?

2. High risk of human error

The more manual tasks you are doing, the higher the risk is of having error. Based on UNLV study, students who manually entered six types of data for 30 data sheets made an average of 10.23 errors.

3. Increased labor costs

If your employees have to do recurring tasks that are too time-consuming, it is inevitable for them to work overtime. This would mean your company has to pay more for their overtime, facility, more claims, etc. If there are needs to rework on work that is not done accurately due to human-errors, it will cost your company more.

Based on CFO, labour represents a median of 60% of the total costs of invoice processing. According to Bank Tech, manual and paper-based processes involved during a typical onboarding process can cost up to 20x more than computer-assisted, electronic document processing.

4. Poor customer engagement and responsiveness

It is impossible to provide satisfying customer responsiveness and to engage better with customers if your employees still rely on manual processes. Not that just these processes are inefficient, which will give impacts on your customer service, but also this process can slow you down in responding to your customer inquiries.

Your company will also more focus on these recurring tasks, instead of gaining and collecting insightful data that you can use to engage customers. According to Accenture, 73% of customers expect customer service to be easier and more convenient, while 61% want it to be faster. In the U.S., the estimated cost of customers switching due to poor service was $1.6 trillion in the past year.

5. Losing opportunity to grow and innovate

Of course, manual tasks can prevent your company from growing. Your employees won’t have time to build strategic works or to collect insightful data to benefit from. You will lose in the race that the businesses around the globe is rapidly competing at.

How do these recurring tasks affect your employees?

It is crucial to take your employees welfare into an account. Dissatisfaction and lack of motivation can drive your employees to produce poor quality of work, which will affect your company’s overall business strategies. Undoubtedly, recurring tasks that employees have to do manually makes them easily feel frustrated, burnt out, and suppressing their motivation to grow. If they are on this level of boredom, then it will highly affect their productivity and the quality of work they do.

Based on research done by Gallup, employees may result in higher absenteeism and decreased productivity when they feel disengaged and dissatisfied of their work, which will result in reduced overall business ROI.

What is the solution to handle these recurring tasks?

Recurring tasks are holding your company back – a definite conclusion we are taking. The next question is, how to overcome this challenge?

The answer is simple: automate.

Read more: What Is Intelligent Automation and Why Is It Beneficial for Businesses

According to 2014 survey done by PMG IT, 98% of IT professionals view the automation of business processes as vital to driving business benefits in today’s corporate environment. Based on research done by McKinsey, about 60% of all occupations have at least 30% of activities that could be automated.

According to Statista, people choose automation as a solution to handle their recurring manual tasks because of these benefits:

How possible it is to leverage intelligent automation?

Here are how companies from various sectors can leverage intelligent automation to automate, simplify, and streamline their recurring manual tasks:

  • Transportation and Logistics

Transportation and logistics companies are 1.1-2.4 times more likely to automate basic daily tasks, such as shipment scheduling and tracking. Another possible area to automate include container booking automation, leads report automation, goods receipt automation, stock report automation, ERP automation, and more.

  • Manufacturing

According to Edge Research, manufacturing companies achieve 96% perfect orders across their supply chain compared to 71%-73% perfect orders if done without automation. Manufacturing companies can automate their machine maintenance report for quality control, order processing, data transfer and integration between systems, processing purchase orders that include consolidating, tallying, and reporting.

  • Insurance

According to Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare, claims processing in insurance companies run 5x faster and are nearly 3-4.5x cost-effective. Some possible area to implement automation in insurance can be automating policy administration, on-boarding new customers, underwriting automation, and claims processing automation.

  • Financial services

Study by PwC shows that financial services realize that 15% from overall cost reduction on process comes by eliminating manual steps and rework. For banking, they can have KYC/AML and loan approval processing to automate.

How to start the automation project?

Start your automation project by simply understanding about intelligent or cognitive automation, features and tools that you need, and most importantly – knowing which process of your business to automate.

Read more: How to Build A Successful Automation Strategy

Contact us if you want to initiate your automation project, and have a free 1-Hr consultation!

Written by: Kezia Nadira & Reiko Anjani