Earlier this year, we shared a post about how robotic process automation (RPA) can play an integral role in auto finance servicing. Transferring routine processes from personnel to robots results in tangible outcomes that can save time and money, reduce human error, and increase employee engagement.
But, before implementing such a new and transformative process in an organization, planning for the change is an absolute must. Employees who hear that a robot will be doing a task that was once their responsibility may, understandably, become frightened of job loss and resist the change. In order for RPA implementation to work well, you must first focus on building a culture that encourages the human workforce to accept, adopt, and work with the digital workforce.
Here are four key steps to establishing that culture:
- Communicate at every level.
At first, having a bot take over a task can sound like it’s taking over a job. Employees may not understand that their expertise can be used elsewhere in the business. Be proactive about your RPA implementation by educating your employees on the purpose of the bots, and be clear about what that means for personnel throughout your entire organization.
Employees at each level of the organization will be impacted by the transition to digital labor differently; likewise, each will care about different aspects of RPA. Whether for C-suite executives or those in back-office functions, your communications with affected employees should focus on the intent of the implementation, and easing the concerns of the employees. Adapt the message as necessary for each particular audience.
Be thoughtful in planning your communications, which can and should vary from team meetings and town halls to newsletters and emails. Use different methods to make sure everyone understands the implications and benefits of the transition to automation. Ask for participation from your workforce to make the effort successful.
- Involve those who are subject matter experts in the deployment and implementation process of the bot.
The employees who have previously performed the task that will be automated are crucial. You need them, as the subject matter experts, to establish what the procedural steps are, and to teach the bots those steps. The bot will only be as good as the person teaching it. So it’s critical for your subject matter experts to have a stake in this transition and to fully understand it and buy into it. They will be a crucial part of the success of the RPA.
- Refocus staff on more meaningful work.
For employees whose tasks will be replaced by a bot, concentrate on redeploying their expertise to other significant areas of the business or building new transferrable skills. Employee engagement rises when personnel feel that their contribution to the business is broader and more meaningful.
- Celebrate successes and share results.
After implementation of RPA, again communicate the results with your entire organization. Share the outcomes of RPA, show the benefits, discuss the learnings, and highlight those who helped get you there. Celebrating milestones is an important step in employee satisfaction.
If you miss one of these steps, it can disrupt the workforce. Your business may suffer from loss of productivity and process errors, and employee engagement may experience a downhill slide. You may find yourself backtracking to change the culture after implementation, which is much harder to successfully achieve.
At Fiserv, we performed an employee engagement survey after a recent RPA pilot implementation. Early anecdotal results show that our employee engagement has risen since the RPA.
Oftentimes, the emphasis with automation is on the increase it can bring to productivity and accuracy. You will experience those results, but don’t forget the angst bots can bring to the human workforce and the real intent behind automation. Building a culture of adoption through thoughtful planning prior to RPA implementation will go a long way toward maintaining a satisfied workforce after the automation is in place.
This article was written by Brandy Bissett, a product manager of business process outsourcing services at Fiserv.