When we encounter something unfamiliar, many of us respond with caution. Consider the first time you booted up a computer. You felt excited, but also uncertain. What new worlds would this device open up to you?
Similarly, it’s only natural for employees to experience a bit of trepidation when robotic process automation (RPA) arrives in their workplace. It signifies change, and change can be stressful—even when it’s a change for the better. The truth is, employees and bots don’t have to be at odds with one another. In fact, in most scenarios, they work well together: bots take care of rote, tedious tasks and employees focus on work that requires judgment, creativity, and a personal touch.
The process of building that relationship, however, is unique to every organization. Each workplace is different and each employee is different. Think of it this way: implementing RPA is more like bringing a new team member onboard than introducing new software to the office. It takes time and effort for everyone to get acquainted, but it’s worth the investment. Promoting a good relationship between the existing staff and the new (digital) recruit is crucial to an effective implementation.
The good news is, once you’ve managed to strike the necessary balance between your human workforce and your automation scripts, you get the best of both worlds. Not only have you streamlined your workflow with RPA, but your employees have actively participated in the process—and now view automation as an essential contributor to their own work.
Here are three steps that will get your employees onboard and excited.
1. Involve employees from day one
One of the world’s most prominent automotive companies, Toyota, famously developed a philosophy called kaizen, in which bosses encourage employees to share ideas for how to improve company processes. As discussed in an article in the Harvard Business Review, the kaizen approach remains relevant—even more so—in the age of robotic process automation.
That’s because employees are on the frontlines, working directly within the processes you seek to automate. They understand the details and subtleties better than an outsider, even if that outsider is an expert on RPA. For instance, an accounting process might seem simple to automate—but what if there’s a common irregularity that would derail a robot? By taking employee insights into account, you can ensure that your RPA scripts accurately account for all the nuances of your work.
Additionally, bringing employees into the conversation helps to ease their automation anxieties. It helps them understand that, far from being replaced, they’re essential parts of the company, with a crucial role to play moving forward. By making your employees integral to RPA implementation, you preserve their creativity and experience, and keep your team strong.
2. Talk about the human factor
Many employees wonder about their role in an RPA-enhanced workplace. It’s true that the twenty-first century workforce differs greatly from the past. But employees have as much—if not more—opportunity to bring their strengths to bear in an exciting, more tech-enabled environment. In fact, seventy-seven percent of companies surveyed by McKinsey pointed to uniquely human skills, like critical thinking and emotional connection, as drivers of future growth. The human touch remains essential in the age of RPA.
Make this point clear in your conversations with employees regarding automation implementation. Discuss the new tasks and responsibilities that will become open to employees as RPA becomes a part of their workflow. Encourage them to bring the same expertise that fuels the implementation process towards work going forward—and provide opportunities for them to demonstrate their potential.
3. Focus on the benefits
It’s a simple equation: if people recognize the benefits they’ll derive from RPA, they’ll invest in its success. And the benefits are numerous. Employees will have time to work on more productive and rewarding projects; they will experience greater job satisfaction. Various studies, including a recent Salesforce survey, bear this out: 84% of employees felt more satisfied with their jobs thanks to automation.
Why? Because employees spend less time doing menial tasks, and can spend more time taking on interesting challenges and developing their professional skills and relationships. For instance, R-Path helped a global real estate investment firm implement a digital worker to review a high volume of emails with numerous attachments, saving hours each day. Employees who once spent a sizable fraction of their day on this mind-numbing task now have time for more engaging, high-value work.
When making the case for automation to your team, focus on these benefits, on how your employees will find their work more satisfying and their day-to-day experience more productive. Emphasize the freedom they’ll feel once bots have taken some of the burden off their shoulders.
Bringing employees on board
When you realize that your employees can work alongside RPA instead of competing with it, your vision of automation implementation changes completely. It’s not just about replacing rote, by-the-numbers tasks: it’s a dynamic process bringing together all your employees to reshape your organization’s overall workflow. You can transform trepidation into excitement and bring your organization closer to its performance goals.
To learn more about how automation can transform your workplace, contact our team.