Most employees in the workplace are thrilled to have automated systems that make operations faster and more convenient. Some are still wary of automation. Their worry might not be unfounded, especially where roles have been made redundant in the past because technology was introduced.
While they might have good cause to be hesitant, it is your job as the employer or Hr professional to reassure your employees that automation has come for the good of all. So how do you go about ensuring that your automation process is embraced and supported and no sabotaging happens from within? The tips below might help.
Lessons from the past
There have been predictions about machines replacing people in the workplaces for over two centuries now. Yet, it hasn’t happened. While machines and technology make operations faster and more convenient, they still need to be operated by people. While automation has always faced resistance due to the fact that employees see it as a threat, where retraining and reshuffling have taken place technology has been embraced and supported. As an employer, you need to benchmark on companies that have successfully integrated automation with their daily operations, then apply best practice.
1. Be Honest about the Expected Changes
Introducing automation in the workplace might bring about feelings of anxiety and mistrust among the employees arising from job insecurities. These fears are very much justified and you need to preempt their occurrence, then counter them with clear and open communication. Automation should be introduced in stages. Be honest with your employees about the expected changes, detailing what they should expect. If the automation process will lead to reshuffling, inform the members to be affected in good time and if possible provide alternatives. Surprising your employees with sudden layoffs will not increase the anxiety, but the office culture, motivation levels and even engagement of the employees left behind.
2. Provide Training
The introduction of automation in the workplace will obviously require a new set of skills to run the technology and ensure organisational objectives are met. the introduction of more operational automation will also see reshuffling of roles within different departments, which also requires training. Lack of training is a sure set up for failure of the entire process. If you feel training is a bit overwhelming, you can automate some of the training by use of customised self-training handbooks or packages, or look for online courses then supplement with short boardroom Q&A sessions. Either way, training is a key component in transitioning.
3. Allow for Transition
When introducing automation, whether, in a department or company-wide, you need to understand that it is a process that will take time to run fully. You need to divide the process into a pre-launch, launch and post-launch stages. In the pre-launch stage, this is where you will train staff on the new technology and talk them through the expected changes. During the launch stage, you will not only put the technology to use but allow employees to get used to the new technology as well. This stage might take longer than you anticipate because it involves the transfer of data and operational information into the new system. During this stage, you should also expect a few hiccups and operational failures, hence prepare contingencies that will ensure your clients and other stakeholders are not affected. The post-launch stage is for monitoring and learnings for improvement.
You will need the full cooperation and support from your employees during all these stages. Keep communication channels open and ensure communication is done regularly to monitor progress. Processes should be in place to ensure that staff members feel valued and that they are part of the process. They need to understand that automating their processes is additional help so that they have more time to concentrate on more core roles.