5 Tips to Leverage Workforce Automation in 2021

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Considering how automation is synonymous with advancement, more and more businesses are jumping onto the bandwagon, hoping that investing in a smart office will pay off. From restaurants and hotels that use a robotic workforce for quicker and innovative customer service to a centralized data dump, the latest vertical in which Artificial intelligence, IoT and machine learning is being tapped into is none other the workforce that works for you.

While there is no denying that technology has turned us into better workers, there are concerns about jobs being taken away by machines built to be smarter and self-reliant. In fact, respondents from a McKinsey Global study cited managing employee resistance to change and attracting top talent as two factors impacting a company’s ability to adapt automation over the next 3 years.

A more accurate representation of the current scene is that the need for certain jobs will reduce, but the need for employees will not.  By freeing the talent pool to think and respond strategically to adversity, workforce automation is going to create better, rather than fewer jobs.  This calls for a different set of skills altogether. You would be doing your resource pool a favour by keeping them current, employable and most importantly, trainable. And automation is here to help you do just that.

Here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Appraise the Enterprise

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A visual representation of what your workforce is up to after they’re hired and on board is crucial to determining skills utilization. After all, you can’t know for certain if the workers you hired are deployed to work that makes use of these skills to the best possible extent. More importantly, individual schedules can be drawn up and finalized only when you know how much work is there, and who is doing what.

A resource management software like Saviom’s ERM is just the kind of workforce automation you need, post the acquisition of the required talent pool and composition. It  gives you absolute visibility into the resources staffing existing activities and individual schedules. This data is centralized so that progress on several projects and services running can be tracked.

More importantly, it lets you see if there are gaps in your estimates concerning in-flight work, or resource insufficiency and excesses that is holding priority work back. In such instances, you are informed of the risks in advance and take corrective actions to optimize the workload. In other words, you can hire, retrain and reassign resources based on their availability and relevance to the work in question, ensuring that every line is manned by competent staff.

2. Follow Technology Trends

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Your business is as profitable as your adaptability. and the onus falls on an employer to make the transition to automation smooth and friendly for their employees. Encouraging your workforce to keep up with trends in the technology space serves the dual purpose of keeping them trainable and informing you of what technology to scale up to. For one, technology hinges on both demand and relevance. And for another, each digital evolution calls for different and new skills.

Your workforce can remain employable and work-ready only if they are successful in overcoming that initial resistance to change. And the place to start is online. There is plenty of information on the web coming from both technical experts and business executives responsible for adopting and leveraging automation.

Leading websites not only publicize how technology impacts efficiency but also enables your employees to complete more work in a shorter time, with lesser efforts. Being in the know of which trend applies to your work makes you smarter in delegating work and getting it done. Some may regard workforce automation as an enabler of laziness, but the truth is that it makes your workforce more productive during their office hours!

3. Initiate In-House Training

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The advantage workforce automation has over labor-intensive paperwork is that it captures employee data and profiles them by department, role,experience, competencies, contract type and length of service with your firm.  Digitizing this into a unified system of records makes it easier to run a health check on competencies.

Today’s workforce looks beyond paychecks and incentive-based promotions. Opportunities for professional growth is more of a motivating factor for employees to remain with an organization in the long run.  In other words, investing in building up your existing employees prevents stagnation and gives them reason to upscale their contribution to work.

What’s more, technology needs skilled people to drive it, and just as skilled a resource pool to use it.  Training your staff in-house readies them for future work and equips them with competencies needed down the line. Check in with your staff on their areas of interest, current schedule and future availability in order to find relevant learning programs and mentors to take charge.

Before buying pre-packaged courses, assess how vital the skills are, where it can next be used and whether it would require your workforce to re-skill (learning or creating a new skill) or upskill (improving an existing skill set). Tapping into workforce automation lets you track these things all at once, ensuring that neither you, nor your employees are caught off guard by shifts and seasonality in demand.

4. Personalize Feedback Sessions

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It’s human to want to be appreciated for your work. Or conversely, be told of ways to improve if and when things aren’t going well. Personalizing your feedback and providing it in regular cycles to individual members lets them know how their efforts are perceived. It allows them to play to their strengths and informs them of the next expected step in the process.

Rather than remembering them only to point out the shortcomings, a two-way feedback session lets you hear from your staff, as well. If the reason behind a roadblock goes back to dysfunctional team dynamics or lack of technical resources and equipment to support them in carrying out responsibilities, you can prevent recurrences of such incidents and gauge if your workforce is able to communicate and move as a cohesive unit.

Feedback on performance and adaptability lets your people know what to expect, and makes the transition to a new business model, technologies and workplace policies smoother.

5. Get Creative

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It is important to communicate your plans on leveraging automation to employees who are uncertain about their future. Keeping your plans concise, straight-forward and consistent lets them self-determine the extent of automation involvement in individual fields. On one hand, automation will replace many blue-collar jobs.

But on the other hand, it will enhance the capabilities needed in administrative and clerical positions. After all, it makes information retrieval faster,  eliminating those positions that add more to payroll costs without value-added output.

One of the success factors to adopting workforce automation is to convey how it will augment existing jobs. Automation is not just about technology but is also about capturing change and its impact on employees and customers alike.

We haven’t quite reached that stage where we would blindly trust automation over human judgment. As such, the need for interpersonal capabilities which machines can’t mimic will continue to grow, such as creative thinking, strategic planning and decision-making. This will result in a workforce that is transformed, rather than incremented.

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