Automation and Reskilling Are Critical for Employee and Business Success

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Business experts and leaders across the nation have been discussing digital transformation for decades, and with the recent coronavirus pandemic, organizations have had to adapt rather quickly to keep up with demand. The last few months have shown that technology is not something to be feared but rather something to be celebrated because without it, you set your business and your employees up for failure.

Before the pandemic hit, perceptions of automation tended to be negative: Many workers worried that machines would eliminate their jobs, while execs stressed over the time and resource investments to reskill those workers.

But when companies talk about why they are adopting automation, they almost always focus on the immediate benefits that’ll be felt organization-wide. When IDC surveyed two focus groups of senior-level digital decision-makers in August 2019, almost all said they plan to invest significantly in automation over the coming years. This isn’t just because it looks good in an investor report—they also believe it will lower costs, shorten or eliminate processing time, and improve employee productivity.

According to a 2019 Adobe commissioned Forrester TEI report, enterprises saved 967 hours per year with Adobe Document Cloud’s automation functionality. These time savings were enjoyed by IT admins, information security teams and customer service professionals.

What’s more, these benefits reach far beyond the executional level. Our research has found that once workers are trained to get the most out of automated tools, their productivity as well as their job satisfaction get an immediate boost. They’re empowered to work more creatively, think more analytically, and contribute more of the uniquely human insights that’ll remain in high demand.

Let’s take a closer look at how process automation frees up workers to focus on the most impactful aspects of their jobs, unlocking vast potential for your employees and overall organization.

Automation Enables Employees to Focus Time  on Impactful Work

No matter how much we enjoy our jobs, we all occasionally find ourselves wondering, “Is this pile of paperwork really the most productive use of my time and ability?” Imagine if mundane tasks like signing forms, filling out applications, and waiting for approval chains could be automated away. What would you do with all the time savings?

My guess is you’d focus on one or more of the following themes: “I’d use that time to innovate and think more creatively,” “I’d spend more time solving problems from a high-level perspective instead of getting stuck in the weeds,” or “I’d devote more time to driving tangible impact on results.”

Now imagine that it’s not just you who gains this bonus time and perspective but rather everyone in your organization, from receptionists and executive assistants to accountants and customer service reps. According to a recent McKinsey survey, automation can already handle about 50% of these job roles, and that percentage will only increase as machine learning technology continues to advance.

For example, consider the administrative assistants who support your execs. The tedious work of aligning schedules and submitting expense reports can simply disappears from their workday with process automation introduced. After a brief reskilling period, they’re free to focus on creative tasks like designing presentations and problem-solving with external clients, strengthening not only their value in their current job role but also their prospects of stepping into an executive position someday.

Another example, imagine your eagle-eyed auditors on the procurement floor find themselves free of paper-pushing. Now they’re able to follow up on possible fraud cases or track down blockages in the approval process and make sure the largest purchase orders get approved more quickly. Again, their jobs and income remain secure, but with just a bit of reskilling, automated tools have vastly increased their value and career prospects.

Automation Will Transform Organizational Focus Over the Next Decade

Enhancements of your employees’ day-to-day workflows are just the beginning of the process improvements that result from automation. Across the organization, staff are no longer needed for repetitive manual tasks, and as a result, staffing begins to focus less on ability to execute and more on creative and analytical problem-solving skills.

Consider, for example, the role of graphic designer. Today, much of your designers’ creative energy gets drained off into administrative tasks that have little to do with creativity. They are often bogged down by tracking down images with suitable licensing, sorting out format compatibility, and generating infinite variations of the same designs. The moment you release your designers from those tasks, you free up vast creative energy for the development of more unique and innovative campaigns.

Similarly, imagine freeing up your marketers from the daily grind of reporting, reviewing, and analyzing A/B test and campaign results. Now they’ve got hours of time and loads of mental energy to focus on optimizing their campaigns from a higher-level perspective. Again, the overall function of the marketing department remains unchanged; your marketers are just better equipped to focus on more meaningful work that will move the needle.

Source: HR Daily Advisor

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