Automation, robots and AI are just the latest technologies since the invention of the crop seeding tools to help improve how work is performed and how businesses function. And, as with any innovation, there is a degree of fear, a media eager to spread FUD, mixed with genuine concern about any impact on the workforce.
Automation remains a dominant theme across many business sectors, and the pace of deployment is picking up. Manufacturing is increasingly automated, digital business focuses on the automated processing of data and the growth of AI is changing how customers interact with all types of organization, and how businesses analyze their data and make decisions.
These changes create many headlines, rafts of whitepapers and challenge the business to make increasingly complex decisions. Somewhere between the cartoon images of cost-saving dollar signs that light up in front of executives and the fear of workforce decimation lies a more nuanced truth behind those headlines. The key message is that RPA can make people better workers, not consign them to the scrapheap.
The financial and efficiency benefits of RPA are well known, allowing for the automation of repetitive tasks, and bringing data together for a current and more accurate view of the company. RPA helps reduce errors, and improve compliance when it comes to data or legal regulations. But less visible in reporting the effectiveness of RPA is the benefits it can have on the worker.
The battle over RPA messaging
The key selling point for adoption and the growth in robots, especially in the process improvement area, is that they enable the workforce to focus on tasks that add more value to the business, improve the level of customer service, while taking away the boring and repetitive tasks that most workers dislike or are of low value.
While robot process automation (RPA) is often sold as a tool to help reduce costs and optimize processes for efficiency gains, the message of better quality work, more motivated workers and creation of value can be overlooked or not passed on clearly enough.
Yes, RPA can help the business save money, it can also save on costs for roles that have already been outsourced or where a company lacks resources to hire. But, the key selling point for impacted workers is that RPA can address issues like burnout, freeing up time for more vital tasks, and allowing them to work with more freedom, add value to their roles either in revenue or satisfaction, increasing employee happiness and making for a better workplace.
5 key benefits of RPA
Focusing on the leading benefits for employees, we can show that RPA creates more interesting roles, reduces negativity towards tasks and helps make for a smoother-running business.
1. Reduces manual tasks
Reduction in manual tasks is a key win for RPA. Almost all workers hate these specific examples, such as copying text from an email into a spreadsheet, taking data from a machine readout or copy and pasting information between documents. RPA is perfect for these tasks, relieving stress and creating extra time for work on more valuable tasks.
2. Gives valuable time back to your staff
Increasing the time available for strategic staff enables workers to achieve more valuable work. They can consider how to improve other areas of their performance or focus on creative tasks, Taking that time and using it to win clients, improve customer service or focus on product quality are all more valuable than performing rote work.
3. Creates a better company culture
This combination of benefits helps improve the work life balance of individuals, teams and can improve positivity within the company overall. This has greater benefits, as the company will be viewed better in LinkedIn and Glassdoor.com comments, and be seen as a more progressive organization that values its employees.
4. Provides more opportunity for L&D
Another benefit far removed from the use of RPA directly is the opportunity to improve worker learning and education. More businesses set themselves up as having a learning culture that creates better workers who can benefit from greater opportunities. Those few extra hours each week can be spent on training, further education and other benefits that again add value to the business, improve worker morale, motivation and their long-term prospects.
5. Improves business performance
Across all these areas, RPA can help boost employee engagement within the business. It can help teach the company and business leaders about the growing issue surrounding the ethics of robots and AI as the issue becomes a more pressing one. And, by winning in the market through both improved performance and having better workers, those who deploy RPA successfully and set about combining their human and digital workers to form an augmented workforce will be better placed compared to rivals who do not, that risk lagging further behind.
RPA in the Workplace
As part of automation trials, advanced efforts to drive automation across a business or a goal of continuous improvement across the business, RPA can achieve 31% higher financial performance and 30% greater business performance than their non-augmented counterparts.
Companies that partner with RPA specialists are likely to find specific trial use cases succeed, opening the door to wider adoption and a growing number of use cases that can help the business improve the opportunities for its workers.
Quality of work can improve with less manual tasks, which can actually improve employee experience and enrich company culture. This is a benefit outside of simple cost saving that can come with a well implemented RPA solution.
However big the business or department, the introduction of RPA creates opportunities for workers, but if left uniformed, or ill-considered, those workers will fear and react negatively to RPA, so whatever the business plan, addressing the needs of the staff should be an equal priority for the business.