There is no question that technology is changing the way businesses run and is developing new roles for professionals; however, it has become a new challenge for managers to decide what, when and how to automate different processes by machines.
Switching over processes to machines and Artificial Intelligence (AI) will affect employee experience, customer service, service quality, brand and even productivity within an organisation. While the automation of tasks have been the recent investment for many organisations, a new focus has transitioned as automation has become the norm: people aspects.
What machines can't replace
Automating tasks and even eliminating certain roles in the workforce that can become automated has made huge improvements to the productivity and efficiency of organisations. Seeing automated machines throughout organisations has become very normal for most businesses; however, research shows that as roles are becoming automated, the 'human parts' of work have become even more important.
Human aspects include:
- personal service
- problem solving
- strategic decision-making
Critics of automated machines say that machines have a negative effect on the economy and will decrease employee morale; however, machines have been found to eliminate unnecessary work, create new roles and allow employees to focus on the aspects of roles that machines simply cannot duplicate.
Amazon.com is one of the best examples that showcases the success of increasing productivity through machines while utilising human skills for more important roles and tasks. Amazon.com effortlessly scales warehousing and shipping during peak holiday seasons, reduces training time for employees and maintains a high brand reputation.
Questions to ask
Realigning your workforce to a more technology intensive and design-focused organisation should come with a number of vital questions to consider. Companies cannot just invest in machine learning; they must also identify ways human skills can benefit those roles and tasks that are being automated. Focus for organisations should be heavily invested in improving the customer experience, the employee experience and the value proposition of the organisation.
Below are a few examples and questions to begin transitioning into an automated workforce:
- Which parts of a job can be automated and which parts can be improved through 'human aspects'? For example, store clerks may advise customers on purchase decisions, instead of focusing on handling the transaction.
- How can employees be re-skilled and re-trained in an efficient and less time-consuming manner?
- Would crowdsourcing benefit this company? For example, utilising freelancers, gig talent, etc.
- How can the workforce be redesigned to be more digital in the future?
Rethink and redesign
Business and HR leaders are beginning to understand the need for redesign around the workforce to accommodate the transition into a heavily technological workplace.
To start, HR managers must identify the differences between tasks that can be automated and skills that are human, such as creative and ethical thinking. Finding a new balance between machine-operated tasks and purpose skills (human aspects) is the stepping stone for creating a more successful workplace in the future.
To achieve this, HR managers may wish to turn to design thinking and journey maps. Organising and mapping out these roles and tasks can help redefine which roles are necessary for the workplace and which tasks should be automated through technology. This will take a dedicated team, hours of research and re-design and finally, a strong strategic plan that will cover the next five to ten years as we see this massive disruption within every industry.
Understanding the need of the organisation and adapting to the accelerated rate of change through technology will allow your organisation to become efficient and productive. This will transition into a better company morale and help professionals focus on more creative and human aspects of a role that machines cannot replicate.
Schwartz, J. et. al. (2017). The Future of Work: The augmented workforce. Deloitte. Retrieved from https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/HumanCapital/hc-2017-global-human-capital-trends-gx.pdf