robot graffiti on NYC wall
PHOTO: jessie essex

In an increasingly candidate-driven job market, companies are getting creative with their workplace perks and soft benefits programs to attract young, promising talent. 

It’s becoming almost normal to walk into a freshly renovated office space and find a group of employees taking a midday yoga break, playing a game of ping pong or enjoying a beer at the end of the workday. Patagonia sends its employees to the beach when the weather’s good for surfing and the campus of Epic Systems includes a slide between floors and a conference room housed in a treehouse.

And it’s no wonder: With the job openings rate outpacing the record low unemployment rate, employers are challenged to find new ways to keep their employees happy or risk losing them to the booming job market. 

People Don't Want Ping Pong, They Want Tools That Work

But quirky perks don’t mean much if your employees don’t feel like they’re doing meaningful work. As my firm, Nintex, found in a study of Gen Z employees in Australia and New Zealand, nearly one-third indicated a lack of new learning opportunities will send them searching for new jobs. Inefficient processes not only take people away from the work they were originally hired to do, but are also driving Gen Zers out the door: More than one-quarter of AU/NZ Gen Z employees surveyed said broken IT processes could cause them to leave a job earlier than planned.

Fortunately, automation technology offers opportunities to increase both efficiency and morale, eliminating repetitive manual processes so workers can get back to the more interesting parts of their jobs. Providing your employees with versatile bots that can execute last steps of a project benefits both you and your workers. 

When signing a new client, for instance, there’s lots of admin work to do before the real work can begin. There are receipts to submit, contracts to sign and legal and accounting departments to contact. Introducing Robotic Process Automation (RPA) can help expedite the more onerous parts of this process. It doesn’t eliminate people from a workflow, but it does save valuable human capital and frees us up to get started on our value-adding work. 

Related Article: Go Beyond Perks to Increase Employee Engagement

Getting Started With RPA

Implementing process automation tools and ensuring bots are smoothly integrated into your workflow can feel daunting. Here are three tips to ensure you start your digital transformation on the right foot: 

  1. Get frontline feedback on broken or inefficient processes. To implement automation in ways that effectively reduce friction and improve company morale, it’s critical to involve your employees in the digital transformation process. Host focus groups and one-on-one sessions with employees to learn where they feel they are wasting the most time and how their time could be better applied. If your company uses time sheets to log their work, collect data from these to find patterns on what’s slowing your workers down the most.
  2. Identify processes suitable for automation. You’ll probably easily identify lots of processes you wish you could eliminate, but not all time-intensive functions are equally good candidates for automation. Processes that don’t follow clear rules, for example — like those involving brainstorming or involvement with the physical world, such as pulling files from a cabinet — are better handled by people. But many processes ranging from managing contracts to migrating information or system monitoring can be improved by user-friendly automation tools.
  3. Implement change slowly. Begin the transformation process by automating smaller, easy to address tasks with clear redundancies, then identify longer-term objectives by mapping out processes you already have in place. The more processes you automate, the more you’ll want to engage your workers for feedback and collect data to pinpoint potential process improvements. Starting small and building up your reliance on RPA gives employees time to get used to and take ownership of their new productivity tools.

Keep in mind inefficiencies won’t be solved overnight, and some parts of most jobs will always require human input. Even if only a fraction of your processes can benefit from automation, just one or two fewer tasks can free up hours of labor and stress. And those hours can be the difference between fueling attrition and keeping good people around. 

Related Article: Why You Should Approach Robotic Process Automation With a Critical Eye