More and more, today’s competitive business landscape understands the importance of human capital as a critical differentiating factor.
To achieve top and bottom line growth, you need to maximise productivity levels within your business, streamline processes and remove errors that are both costly and impact the overall efficiency of your organisation. You also want your human capital to have the time to focus on growth initiatives and servicing your customers.
In short, to get the most from your people, you need to create a hybrid workforce that combines human capital with process automation — people and robots working together to maximise the organization’s overall potential.
The right focus unlocks potential
While there has never been a greater understanding of the importance of engaged employees, across the world satisfaction and engagement levels are nowhere near where they should be, and South Africa is no exception.
The problem is that employers tend to focus on satisfaction ratings, without understanding that having employees who are simply ‘satisfied’ at work could actually be damaging their entire company’s productivity levels.
According to research conducted by Bain & Co consultants Eric Garton and Michael Mankins, ‘satisfied’ employees are 45% less productive than engaged employees, and engaged employees are 55% less productive than inspired employees. That makes inspired employees 125% more productive than satisfied employees. And unfortunately, less than one third of employees are either engaged or inspired.
The reality is that employees who fall into the ‘satisfied’ category are actually a drain on productivity levels.
So, the question becomes, how do you create workers that are more engaged and inspired, and in doing so increase productivity levels?
Creating inspired employees
While there are many contributing factors to this question, one of the biggest changes that has occurred in the workplace today is an enormous increase in data and processes.
Repetitive, routine and mundane tasks sap the energy and motivation of employees who want to be focusing their time and attention on more meaningful work.
And it’s not just employees that dislike process-driven, dull tasks. When processes are too reliant on manual intervention, bottlenecks and time-wasting tasks are introduced. Additional controls are also required to compensate for issues introduced through human error, which slows the whole process down even further, makes it more expensive and adds an additional layer of frustrations for employees.
It’s a downward spiral. Employees steadily become less and less motivated as more and more time is spent on process instead of client-facing meetings, customer service, innovation and other high-value tasks that automation can’t solve.
The good news is automation can solve the process and data problems we’ve listed above. The challenge, according to Ravin Jesuthasan and John Boudreau, the authors of Reinventing Jobs: A 4 Step Approach for Applying Automation to Work, is that leaders focus too much on how automation will replace jobs, instead of how work will be redefined with the organization to increase productivity, engagement and the top and bottom line.
They believe there is a four-step approach to understanding whether automation can help your business (and its workforce).
- Focus on the work, not the job. When certain tasks are automated, work can occur (and increase) outside of the ‘job’ description. The key is to deconstruct and then reconfigure the components of the job to discover the human-automation combinations that can make your human employees more efficient, effective and impactful. Automation is designed to handle routine aspects of a job – freeing up people to do the more exciting, non-routine work that will engage and motivate them.
- Understand where the opportunities for automation lie in your organisation. Robotic process automation (RPA) automates high-volume, low-complexity, routine administrative tasks. Some tasks are better suited to RPA, others must be handled by humans. The good news is that people tend to dislike the tasks that are better suited to RPA anyway.
- Manage the decoupling of work from the organisation. Once automation takes place, human work will be created that doesn’t easily fit into the traditional ‘jobs’ that exist today. In fact, a lot more focus can be given to innovation and customers than now. To make the most of these opportunities, your organisation will need to reconfigure what employees can (and should) do.
- Re-envision the organisation. Re-envisioning the organisation requires the management team to reconsider the business as a hub and capital source for an ecosystem of work providers, which take the form of human capital as well as automation. This understanding will allow you to discover the best human-automation combinations that redefine work and how it should be organised – unlocking incredible opportunities in your business as a result.
To find out more about how you can unlock human potential through Hybrid Workforces that blend human capital with automation, download your free whitepaper, Unlock the full potential of your most valuable resources: Your employees and your data.
This article was published in partnership with Hybrid Workforces.