Employers can’t afford to be complacent when it comes to retaining great employees. However, certain jobs, especially routine-based jobs with few growth opportunities, have notoriously high turnover rates. Robotic process automation(RPA) and digital transformation strategies offer new opportunities for engaging and retaining talented employees while also modernising legacy systems to optimise contact centre operations. However, for automation solutions to be a successful aspect of your digital strategy, it is essential to first understand the benefits of RPA in relation to human employees and business processes, so RPA best practices can be implemented.
The benefits of RPA in addressing the retention challenge
Before a digital transformation powered by robotic process automation technology can begin, it is first necessary to understand some of the employee retention challenges facing contact centres of excellence. A new survey from global staffing firm Robert Half shows 81 per cent of employers are concerned about holding on to top talent in today’s tight employment market. Meanwhile, 57 per cent of employees indicated that they do not plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months. So, are employers’ concerns overblown?
No. "In a tight employment market, workers have more options, and the grass may look greener somewhere else", said Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half, in a statement. "Employers can help prevent turnover by learning what motivates their most valued employees and customizing their retention strategies”.
What doesn’t motivate employees? Repetitive, micro-managed tasks. In fact, a study conducted by Forrester shows that employee engagement improves when employees are freed from repetitive and mundane tasks.
This is where a main advantage of robotic process automation comes into focus. While it’s natural for people to lose interest when performing the same task over and over, the same doesn’t apply to robots. Or, as Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a co-author of a report about the automation of jobs, tells CNBC, "If your job is boring and repetitive, you're probably at great risk of automation".
Let’s be clear: repetition isn’t all bad. There’s value in repeating tasks to master a new skill, for instance, but when the tasks don’t increase employee proficiency or productivity, it’s time to consider an intelligent automation solution for your existing systems and processes.
The benefits of RPA on employee engagement
By lowering the amount of time consuming, repetitive tasks for employees, RPA offers the chance for employees to switch their focus on higher quality customer service interactions. These higher value interactions create improved customer experiences, and they also are more rewarding to the employee, leading to increased engagement.
For example, consider an HR manager’s work day. Repetitive and routine tasks such as sending follow-up emails, posting jobs and entering data quickly eat up time. With the convergence of other technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, RPA solutions can automate tasks, freeing the manager to work on activities that a bot can’t do—such as listening to and addressing employee concerns with emotional intelligence, solving unique challenges and developing strategies to improve employee engagement and satisfaction.
Intelligent automation can reduce errors and increase employee empathy
The reality for many people who are tasked with high volume, repetitive manual processes is that the tedium and monotony associated with these jobs makes them feel like, well, robots. Additionally, unmotivated and bored employees are more prone to making mistakes.
A main benefit of RPA solutions is that they reduce human error while enabling employees to feel more human by engaging in conversations and assignments that are more complex but could also be more rewarding. For instance, instead of having a contact centre associate enter information while also speaking with a customer, an RPA solution can automatically collect, upload or sync data into with other systems for the associate to approve while focusing on forming an emotional connection with the customer.
Implementing RPA helps companies onboard and train more people in less time
Another impact of RPA is it can facilitate and streamline employee onboarding and training. An RPA tool, for instance, can pre-populate forms with the new hire’s name, address and other key data from the resume and job application form, saving the employee time. For training, RPA can conduct and capture data from training simulations, allowing a global organisation to ensure all employees receive the same information in a customised and efficient manner.
RPA is not for every department and it’s certainly not a panacea for retention and engagement problems. But by thinking carefully about the benefits that it offers to employees, RPA can transform workflows—making employees’ jobs less robotic and more rewarding.
For more on robotic process automation best practices, our digital transformation team has created the below list of RPA dos and don'ts so you can get the best return on investment from your RPA implementation.
RPA best practices and the do's and don'ts for successful digital transformation
Robotic Process Automation, more commonly known as RPA, is the use of automated tools and software to complete repetitive and simple manual human tasks within organisations. It’s quickly gaining popularity in both the front- and back-office to streamline operations and free-up customer-facing employees to focus on more meaningful customer experience interactions while also providing cost savings and improving customer satisfaction.
BEFORE DEPLOYING RPA PROCESSES, KEEP IN MIND
THESE IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS
Be transparent with your workforce on how it’ll strengthen, not endanger, their position.
Build and train RPA tools with a diverse workforce to avoid bias in its design.
Only introduce automated tools when they’ve been thoroughly tested and trained alongside your workforce.
Create a balanced organisational culture that plays on the strengths of human and automated capabilities.
As automation takes the easy tasks, retrain employees with soft skills needed for customer centricity.
Do not rush. Poorly introduced AI can be prone to errors, dangerous bias and fractured experiences.
Automation shouldn’t be everywhere.
Siloed AI without reference to people prevents a clean transition when escalation is needed.
Start small, or in a contained area, to perfect the tool, then share with the wider organisation.
Plan for the long term. How will future updates, data input and various dialogue affect the future growth of your RPA?