A great workplace makes working feel great.
If that sounds like too simple a formula, let’s break it down a little:
When people feel great when they’re working, they’re probably more likely to work harder. Faster. With a greater attention to detail.
People only feel great at work when a few key elements are in place, though.
It can start with a sense of purpose, which a company might define in its mission, vision and values. When a sense of purpose is genuine and clearly articulated, the stage is set for an employee experience in which everyone understands the value the company is trying to provide.
Feeling great about where you work doesn’t end there, however. It also stems from how well employees feel they’re supported to achieve the objectives their employer sets out for them.
Perhaps they were hired because of a particular skill set, like an ability to tell compelling stories as a marketer or a proven track record in closing large sales deals. If they only spend a tenth of their time using those skills because they’re mired in manual tasks, though, they’re not going to feel great. They’ll feel bored or even resentful.
Companies that prioritize employee experiences recognize that beyond manual tasks, they need to move their best people away from repetitive tasks, or those that could be done on a larger scale by a machine rather than a human being.
Automation’s role in creating a great employee experience has sometimes been obscured by the other benefits it brings. For employers, automation can mean an ability to streamline key processes, improve safety conditions on job sites, gain visibility into operational performance or reduce costs.
However automation is just as important to pursue if you care deeply about the health and well-being of your workforce. People who get stressed out – or reach the point of burnout – can wind up missing work for a prolonged period or leave their job entirely. It can hurt their careers and the ability of their employer to achieve its mission.
Automation can’t solve every employee experience problem, of course, but it can offer powerful capabilities in a number of areas. These include:
When you look at the day in the life of an average sales rep, what do you want them to have accomplished at the end of each day? Is it better that they filled in the rows and columns of multiple spreadsheets, or that they talked to a record number of customers and prospects?
What about customer service agents? Will they feel motivated and driven to go on yet another hunting expedition for customer data across disparate systems?
Automation centralizes the most important information you use throughout a company. It also takes away what employees often secretly (through rightfully) refer to as the “grunt work” of their jobs. In doing so, automation serves as a way to give them the kind of workload that’s more suited to their education and career background – the qualities, in other words, for which they were hired in the first place.
The original one-size-fits-all model of having everyone show up to the same location for eight hours a day is no longer universally relevant. Attracting and keeping the best employees now requires recognizing that some employees will want to be able to work successfully from anywhere.
Automation helps support hybrid working models because it means many areas that once required employees to be on-site can be done without human intervention. Other tasks that still need a person involved can be done remotely. This can range from quality control processes to collaborating with coworkers.
As a result, those working in companies with advanced automation in place may be in a better position to attend to their personal wellness, whether it’s going to the gym or taking some time for meditation.
A thriving career means committing to lifelong learning. If employees have to use up all their evenings and weekends to take courses, however, they risk winding up being too tired by the time they’re back on the job.
Automation can come at a time of transition within many companies and sectors. As redundant tasks get taken over by technology, for example, employees may find themselves responding to new, emerging needs from customers and coworkers alike.
This is where upskilling and reskilling becomes as beneficial to employers as it does to individual employees. A company where staff are given dedicated hours to pursue professional development is the hallmark of a great employee experience.
Automation isn’t limited to robotics. Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) are allowing businesses of every size to not only handle tasks, but learn as they do so.
Just think of a chatbot as one example. As a tool deployed on a web site, chatbots can answer many of the routine questions that might have led customers and prospects to reach out to a contact centre in the past. At the same time as it’s providing those answers, though, that chatbot is also collecting invaluable data about the kinds of problems customers are encountering, and precisely how they ask for help.
This kind of insight can become the basis for new ideas employees will come up with in terms of new products, services and processes to enhance the customer experience. This is some of the most fulfilling work you can do, and it makes for a great employee experience as well.
With the right kind of automation, employees can stop “griding” and breathe a little. They can take steps to protect their mental and physical health. And they can challenge themselves to raise the bar on the work they and their company do.
Automation is not just worth exploring – it’s imperative for companies that want their entire team of employees to flourish.