Intelligent Automation: Helping Employees Find Meaning

20 February 2019 | intelligent automation, employees
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Intelligent Automation: Helping Employees Find Meaning

We all want to find meaning in what we do — it’s human nature after all. Either seeing the impact of what we do at work, or collaborate well with the colleagues we’re around every day — gives us and our output a boost. But, as one of many reports state, the majority of employees aren’t engaged at work. While the term ‘engaged’ can be quite subjective, the startling numbers from reports like Gallup, which found that that 87% of employees aren’t engaged at work — makes for a damning view of the modern workplace. While we’re sure that the reasons for this are vast, we would point out that the current activities that many people perform certainly aren’t the most enjoyable, or human. And, no matter how many times people are told what they are doing is ‘business critical’, it can be difficult to see the bigger picture— even if they’re told one keystroke could mean profound change for a business. It is certainly easier to think about the bigger picture, than to actually see it in action. Thankfully, the promise of AI and Intelligent Automation, may mean that many of our current activities at work may be called into question. While some may brush it’s transformative effect off with a sarcastic “what a time to be alive” from that famous 90s cartoon, or others may think of a depressing dystopian future, the fast emergence of AI and Automation is actually making real change in work, now. And, no it’s not in a negative way, but rather giving employees meaning through engagement and joy in their day-to-day activities, being able to use human skills such as creativity or empathy. So, how is Intelligent Automation changing the work that people perform? And, more importantly, how is it helping employees and companies excel? 

Extracting Repetitive Tasks with Intelligent Automation – Take the robot out of the human!

It may feel as if it’s a long way off in the office world, but automation is happening around us in organizations today. Giving us the opportunity to leap in our growth capacity as the activities we perform change and our roles are augmented. While in certain industries it has been easy to see automation in action, such as in manufacturing with physical robots, it isn’t so obvious with automation delivered via software. But be under no illusion, the white collar workforce around the globe are already working side by side with digital labor. In almost every business sector, repetitive and simple tasks usually performed by people are starting to be performed by Intelligent Automation—the amalgamated form of AI, Robotics and Cloud Computing. 

But, what do we mean by repetitive and simple tasks? The best way to demonstrate this is to give a couple of examples. Firstly, swivel chair activities, a task the majority of us would have performed at some point in our careers — the simple moving of data from one system to another, or in some cases a written document to a computer system. A second more complex use of Intelligent Automation, is the use of ChatBot technology to assist in the front office. It can be deployed to perform the routine day to tasks in front office activities such as change of address, or feeding information to staff — which don’t require a human touch. These two examples scratch the surface of the potential of Intelligent Automation, but it certainly gives some ideas. But now that these tasks can be performed by Intelligent Automation, or digital labor, what are the kind of tasks people can perform that have more meaning?

The New Way to Work— Meaningful Human Work with Intelligent Automation

It may seem daunting to think that certain tasks now can and are being automated by organizations around the world. Although, it most certainly shouldn’t be. The idea that you can reclaim meaning for employees should be exciting. Organizations who are consciously using automation to enhance and complement working, can help them to excel in the areas that people do best in. Whether that be being creative in their department, such as starting on projects to deliver better customer outcomes or launch a new product, or through empathy, by handling the most challenging cases which certainly needed that human touch. Not to mention, that employees can have more time to start learning and developing themselves for the benefit of the business — and at the same time give their work more meaning.

While some may see the idea of engagement and meaning in work as ‘airy-fairy’, the world wide survey by Gallup found that engaged employees were 22% more productive and that is something surely not be ignored for business benefit. If organizations use automation in the right way, they can lift the current level of 29% of human work - that uses sensing human emotions - and boost it significantly. This will clearly give demonstrable benefits for all parties involved and help people do more and achieve more — with meaningful work for themselves and productivity boosting for employers.