The impact of automation on employment is inevitable. Long gone are the days when you could get a position at a company, do the exact same job for 30 years and retire.
Like anything, times change. And with the pace of technology and innovation, more and more positions are being automated. This means companies can now do more with less people.
Think back to Henry Ford’s moving assembly line where workers continuously executed simple, repetitive tasks. Now, many carmakers utilize robotic machinery to efficiently automate much of those processes.
Automation can take many forms and is impacting every profession, from an automatic email response after signing up for a company’s newsletter to vehicles that parallel park for you.
Take bank tellers, for example. There used to be a time when you could only conduct financial transactions via these professionals. With the creation of automatic teller machines (ATMs), the demand for bank tellers has greatly decreased.
It may sound scary, but there’s no need to panic. When implemented well, automation frees humans from many routine and mundane tasks, so we can focus on more complex and creative opportunities.
As a result, the shift in employment for many has been massive. Companies that embrace automation can benefit from decreased costs, improved productivity and huge time savings.
These changes can make employees (and employers) feel threatened or anxious and can lower morale. However, with a sound plan and clear communication, you can lead your staff to feel comfortable and confident in this automated world.
Tips to help employees stay indispensable in the workplace
Just because there’s a rise in automation doesn’t mean employees aren’t needed or valued. The opposite is true.
To stay a few steps ahead of the game as an employee, spend some time thinking about the impact automation may or may not have on your role. Also, explore ways to strengthen your knowledge, learn new skills and help others at the same time.
1. Pinpoint repetitive tasks that may be automated
Before you can make yourself an indispensable employee, you need to think about daily, routine tasks that could be more efficiently done by computer software. For example:
- Answering customer questions – When the majority of your responsibilities involve providing customer support, a chatbot – a computer program that simulates human conversation – could take over the bulk of your duties.
- Scheduling meetings – If you’re tasked with constantly juggling meetings for multiple team members, automation could absorb this responsibility. There’s now technology that will schedule, cancel and reschedule meetings for you instead.
- Collecting data – Do you spend a lot of your day trying to collect data from stakeholders, employees, etc.? Software can simplify this task, resulting in more time saved and less human errors.
When you begin identifying repetitive tasks ahead of time, you’re less likely to be in shock if a certain role or function becomes automated. Plus, you can begin thinking of other things you can do to add value to your position.
2. Identify what is unlikely to be automated
There are some tasks that require a human touch no matter what, such as:
- Creative functions – Designers, copywriters, artists and more employ creative thinking in order to come up with ideas. Of course these roles incorporate technology to get the job done, but the creative juices needed to produce that perfect concept or piece of art can’t be done by robots.
- Human-element roles – Human resources managers definitely lean on technology to recruit ideal candidates. However, responsibilities such as motivating and managing employees won’t be automated away.
- Project coordination – The amount of work that goes into coordinating a large project requires lots of organization and human expertise. While software can play a huge role in relieving project managers of routine tasks, as well as increasing efficiency and improving accuracy, the position can’t become 100 percent automated.
Recognizing the types of responsibilities that are unlikely to become automated can provide a bit of peace and help you better gauge the other areas where you may need to up your skills.
3. Embrace automation
To truly become an essential employee companies just can’t do without, consider embracing automation. Instead of letting automation intimidate you, let it augment and improve your existing processes.
Also, educate yourself on all things automation as they relate to your field. For example, if you’re in the technical arena, you may consider learning to code. Or, maybe conduct some research regarding the latest technology in your industry that could help you, as well as team members, perform duties more efficiently.
Bottom line – in this world of automation, it’s extremely beneficial to continue learning and updating your skills. This way, you expand your knowledge and growth, making you a long-term asset.
4. Share information with others
The only thing better than possessing knowledge is sharing it. Being that employee that takes the time to share information is a huge benefit to everyone on the team. Even a nugget of information can go a long way for someone else, potentially helping co-workers get their jobs done more efficiently.
As a result, this can make others feel comfortable that automation is here to simplify things – not take everyone’s jobs. This encourages a positive working environment as well as reinforces collaboration – something software just can’t accomplish.
3 things employers can do to ensure relevance
Employees aren’t the only ones faced with adjusting to and embracing automation. As an employer, it’s imperative you take the necessary steps to ensure your business can keep up with the changes automation brings and stay relevant.
1. Invest in your technology
Having cutting-edge software can help your business stay competitive.
For example, decades ago, recruiting a candidate involved mountains of physical paperwork – paper resumes, paper job applications, paper files, etc. Then, everything had to be sorted through, one by one, to find pertinent information about candidates.
The process has evolved greatly with advances in software. The right technology allows you to automate a ton of repetitive processes, such as onboarding, benefits enrollment, payroll and more.
If companies didn’t invest in software and technology, they’d practically be out of business as times change.
2. Offer employees training and development opportunities
It’s one thing for an employee to try to improve on their own. It’s another level of peace of mind if they know they work at a company that offers a variety of training materials for them to access.
Make a point to offer continued education in the areas that won’t be automated so employees can become experts and grow.
Also, when new automation tools are implemented, be sure to provide training so your employees can best utilize the new tools. This helps dispel any fears they may have when faced with new technology.
3. Encourage employees to improve communication
One of the biggest advantages employees have is their ability to communicate. Automation may help companies save time and money, but there’s no replacement for solid human interaction and conversations.
Encourage employees to voice their thoughts to not only discover what they know, but also to find out what concerns are on their minds. Your team is using certain automation tools to do their jobs and you want them to feel free to communicate first hand regarding what tools are effective or not effective.
Minimize fear of automation
Although automation has its many benefits, it’s crucial that business leaders do everything possible to decrease employee anxiety when new tools and software are introduced in the office.
1. Be transparent
It’s imperative not to conduct a massive technology overhaul without preparing your team.
For instance, maybe you’re updating some
of your legacy technology with new technology. While it may be great
for business, it could put a lot of fear in employees if you just spring it on
When implementing new technology in the workplace, start from the beginning, and explain why it is being adopted and the value it brings. Then provide a step-by-step plan of how it will be implemented and how employees will be thoroughly trained on the new technology.
Much of fear is fear of the unknown. Through effective communication, you can ease your staff into these new processes and tools. Remember: automation is a tool to help your employees, not replace them.
2. Reassure your team
Employees have to feel confident automation is not meant to replace them.
For example, in the past, when someone was hired as a software quality assurance analyst, their role was to test software for possible bugs or issues in the system.
Nowadays, software can automatically test the system for issues and pinpoint the problem. However, an actual person still must fix the problem, not a machine.
It’s important to stress to employees that they are your greatest asset, and automated tools are there to compliment them.
3. Promote networking
At the end of the day, automation can intimidate employees regarding job security.
By networking and meeting new people, employees can keep their names out in the field as well as gain fresh ideas on how others are using automation to their advantage.
This can lead team members to inquire about certain courses to help them learn new technical processes that may ultimately help them advance their career.
Want a quick way to help your team overcome their fear of automation? Start by implementing the right software. Download our free e-book: HR technology: How to choose the best platform for your business and take advantage of step-by-step guidance.