Automation is Redefining Jobs, Not Killing Them

December 09, 2021
Robots are here, but the net impact will be a positive one. Based on the BDO Digital Transformation Survey, automation will create more jobs than it displaces. Still, automation and other digital technologies will augment the workforce, either by increasing the speed and quality of their work or by freeing up employee time to focus on more strategic priorities. Realizing the multiplier effect of technology boils down to the extent to which the workforce knows how to use it and apply it.
 

The keys to driving automation success are encompassed in LEAD

As a result, most organizations (53%) are implementing training to upskill their workforce with a focus on digital fluency so they can leverage technology to the fullest and finding ways for the workforce to embrace automaton.
  • L, Listen to Concerns - For digital investments, listen to your employees and understand where they see low level processes that could be potentials uses for automation. For instance, what are major points of friction that could be alleviated through automation? Are there repetitive tasks that are overwhelming teams? Are there technologies in use that aren’t performing?
  • E, Engage in Conversation - Employees want to understand if and how their jobs will be impacted and how their role would evolve when automation capabilities are implemented. Carve out time to listen to concerns, answer questions and incorporate ongoing feedback.
  • A, Acknowledge individual efforts - Some employees may resist new technology because they were involved in creating, installing, updating, or advocating for systems in use. Seek out those individuals and ensure they will be redeployed into hirer level functions. Acknowledge the valuable contributions they made -- even minor ones
  • D, Develop employees’ future by investing in training - To realize the full potential of automation, employee adoption is critical and employee training is critical.
 

Reasons Digital Investments Fall Short

As mentioned, 40% of digital investments fall short due to lack of skills or insufficient training. Other reasons include:
  • 36% - Lack of understanding of the scope or objectives
  • 32% - Employee pushback
  • 28% - Poor communication or project management
  • 26% - Lack of leadership or vision from senior management  

Automation will create efficiencies if the workforce is sufficiently trained and bought in. The buy-in piece cannot be overlooked. A lack of skills or understanding the objectives of automation are the key reasons digital initiatives fail. Change management should be a significant part of your digital transformation plan and a portion of your budget, not an afterthought.
 

Impact of Automation on Workforce Strategy

The workforce may think automation is eliminating jobs but instead with the implementation of automation, 54% of organizations are reorienting the workforce toward strategic initiatives, 46% are developing a strategy for an AI-enabled workforce and 42% are re-imagining roles. Instead of job elimination, 34% of organizations are increasing headcount. Automation will bring numerous benefits in the form of higher productivity and change the skills required of the workforce.
 

Innovation Champion to lead Automation Change Management

Change management is the last mile of digital and automation transformation, and so it tends to get short shrift, but it’s often what makes or breaks the success of the initiative. Overcoming cultural resistance takes a sustained internal marketing and engagement campaign that ideally should precede the rollout of the new tool or platform. To inspire change and drive employee adoption, businesses need an Innovation Champion. An Innovation Champion is an individual within an organization who moves initiatives forward, aligns business goals and technology, encourages diversity of thought, and eliminates barriers to progress. An Innovation Champion with the right amount of influence and technology acumen can accelerate employee adoption and, by proxy, ROI realization.

To harness automation to its fullest effect, companies will need to rethink their corporate structures and their approaches to work. That change will require businesses to focus on their current workforce and on the talent they need. Successful adoption of digitization and automation first and foremost stems from organizations engaging employees throughout the process where their feedback is respected, heard, and supported during times of change.

BDO’S professionals help clients identify business processes that are optimal for automation. We work with our clients to develop automation that is reusable and scalable, creating long-term increased profit and value for our clients.