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Why robotic process automation can boost morale - Nintex

11 Dec 2019

Article by Nintex APAC technical evangelist Chris Ellis

Is spending a stretch of time doing meaningless administration work a rite of passage for the young hires in your business?

Or part of the job description for a great many of the workers on your team?

That’s well and good if you’re happy to accept a high rate of staff turnover.

If not, you could be shooting yourself in the foot.

Recent research carried out by Nintex revealed Australia’s newest crop of workers is underwhelmed by the prospect of being asked to do repetitive grunt work if the technology is able to be deployed to complete the task on their behalf.

The firm’s study of Gen Z employees – individuals born between 1995 and 2009 – revealed a lack of new learning opportunities at work would have around a third of them scanning the ‘Situations Vacant’ listings.

A quarter of those surveyed said having to navigate deficient IT processes as part of their role would drive them to move on earlier than otherwise planned.

That might sound a tad drastic to mature Australians who commenced their careers in the pre-internet era.

But it’s serious stuff for the cohort which demographer Mark McCrindle has dubbed ‘generation connected’; digital natives who’ve been logged on and linked up since childhood.

The high cost of staff churn

Should it matter to you that the youngsters on your team may struggle to cope with too much tedium when they’re on the tools?

If you’re a business owner with an eye on your bottom line then the answer is yes.

Staff turnover can be surprisingly costly, even for roles which do not require specialist qualifications.

The cost of replacing an employee can range from 12 weeks’ salary, plus 28 per cent on-costs, to 1.5 times annual salary, according to the Australian Human Resources Institute’s 2018 Turnover and Retention Research Report.

If a sizeable percentage of your workers walk out the door each year, you’re looking at significant disruption and a big bill.

That’s why it makes sense to make it a priority to keep your existing team happy.

Deploying robotic process automation (RPA) technology to eliminate repetitive manual processes wherever practicable is one way you can do so – and boost efficiency and productivity in the process.

Booting up the bots

Not sure about how RPA technology can be applied in your enterprise?

Here in Australia, and elsewhere in the world, we see companies using RPA bots to automate repetitive processes associated with running the payroll, reconciling bank records, producing month-end financial reports and onboarding employees, to name just a few.

Implementing the technology effectively starts with determining which processes within your enterprise would benefit most from an automation overhaul.

One of the easiest and most reliable ways to do this is to ask your team.

Convening focus groups and conducting employee interviews can help you determine the most egregious sappers of time and productivity.

Processes which follow clear rules are the best candidates for automation while those which require frequent human intervention and the application of an element of discretion are least suitable – at least until artificial intelligence learns to manage nuance and complexity more effectively than it currently does.

Transformation is most likely to be effective if it’s carried out slowly and surely, with simple, easy-to-automate tasks addressed first.

Seeking regular feedback from employees and developing metrics to measure process improvements will help ensure the time and resources you devote to the process are expended effectively, for the long-term benefit of the business.

And while it’s unrealistic to imagine inefficiencies will be weeded out overnight, even the smallest of gains can free up hours of time and reduce the likelihood good workers will walk because they’re tired of carrying out meaningless repetitive tasks.

Time to act

The next decade will see Baby Boomers complete their exit from the Australian workforce. The tranche of Gen Zers who’ll progressively take their places have grown up in very different times and their career expectations will become a focus for organisations which rely on their toil.

Taking steps to improve their job satisfaction by replacing repetitive processes with meaningful responsibilities, whenever possible, makes sound sense for employers that want to attract and retain quality workers into the 2020s and beyond.