There are few topics in the press that generate more heat – and less light – than the role that automation, machine learning, and technology play in either creating or destroying jobs.
Fortune magazine notes:
“The notion that robots or automation will take on the jobs of millions of people is a nagging source of anxiety for many people … workers ranging from truck drivers—of which there are an estimated 1.8 million in the U.S.— to airline pilots to paralegals to surgeons are already being affected by automation.”
Why should employees embrace rather than resist process automation? Three reasons:
- Back-end processes are more exposed than ever before to the customer. It used to be that organizations could hide their shoddy, manual processes from the customer. That is no longer the case. As customers interact with the business digitally, they directly and personally experience what used to be called the “back office.” And if they don’t like the experience, they can take to Twitter and Facebook and let the world know.
- Disengaged employees are everywhere. Read just about any Dilbert comic strip and you get a sense of how boring, redundant and repetitive work impacts employee engagement. Employee engagement is what keeps your workers coming in every day. It’s what keeps them focused while they’re working and leads them to go the extra mile. According to the Gallup Organization, “A staggering 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged. Many companies are experiencing a crisis of engagement and aren't aware of it.” Gallup further notes, “Companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share.
- Mind-numbing work is made worse on outdated technology. Millennials will comprise more than one of three adults by 2020 and 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, and the talent battle is on to engage the next generation of employees. Millennials have experienced consumer-grade technology and connectivity all of their lives, and when they go into work, many feel like they’ve walked into a computer museum.
Study after study shows that automation creates more jobs and more worker opportunity. The only guaranteed route to fewer workers is to lose customers and business from resisting process automation.