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How robotic process automation will change the future of the workplace

October 29, 2019
Sustainability

The evolution of the workplace is rapidly changing for all industries at every level.

Workflow concepts including automation and AI have become increasingly available today, and in particular RPA – robotic process automation – where bot technology is used to organize and execute repeatable workplace tasks – has received widespread appeal despite some hesitation on job loss, writes Richard French, CRO of Kryon

According to a recent report from Deloitte, only 32 percent of companies are prepared for RPA technology, and “only 17 percent of respondents to Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey say they are ready to handle a workforce consisting of people, robots, and AI working side by side.” The report also notes that 60 – 70 percent of transformations “fail due to poor change management”. These findings show a definite fear to transformation and proves that HR will play a crucial role in change management and training, in order to deploy a successful implementation.

There still seems to be a great fear that robots will displace human workers. We should not have to fear, as it’s becoming more and more prevalent that robots and automation will instead provide a valuable extension to global workers by helping them eliminate mundane tasks. According to a report from Gartner, “Robots are not here to take away our jobs, they’re here to give us a promotion. I think that’s the way we should start looking at AI,” says Gartner research manager Manjunath Bhat. The report also states that in the following 5 years, roughly 2 million jobs will actually be generated in relation to AI.

Today and over the next decade, we will certainly see an increase in using RPA for human resource management, especially for the on-boarding and off-boarding of employees, benefits administration, payroll, etc. Primarily, we must acknowledge the flexibility that RPA provides. On a more macro level, no two companies have the same onboarding and offboarding processes, payroll, benefits, etc.. RPA can dynamically sit within any company and automate the process that an HR professional would carry out in nearly every situation – instantly. By delegating more tedious and time-consuming tasks to a virtual robot that ensures all necessary steps are taken, allows the HR teams to focus on more high-level tasks where skills such as critical thinking, making judgment calls, and human interaction are vital.

Additionally, the role of the HR manager will shift drastically, allowing HR personnel to achieve a more managerial/C-suite level position as an HR Business Partner of even Chief of Staff – focused on building company culture, retaining employees, building robust benefits packages and working to improve management. With the reduction in muddled back-office HR, we can assure the future HR employees will increasingly support innovation and enhance human functionality.

Successful use of RPA within HR may be – virtual assistants that send new hire relevant paperwork to sign as well as benefits packages, PTO policy, and additional onboarding materials. Once received and completed, RPA will signal to IT that the new hire’s computer/desk needs to be set up as well as send an email to managers/colleagues informing them of their start dates.

Lastly, new hires can set up training/meetings during their first week to ensure seamless onboarding.

In addition, HR professionals must thoroughly understand the AI that is being used at their company or organization. AI will be used in systems for employee workflow productivity among other things. HR professionals with be required to really understand, not only how these systems work, but how to train and teach employees to use them. They will also need to learn how to measure employees’ success in using AI. Some reports suggest that over time RPA will save up to $5-7 trillion.

Overall, we must accept and appreciate RPA as a powerful tool that will inevitably be a part of everyone’s workforce in the next 10 years. As businesses move to automation at scale as a competitive advantage, employees at all levels will create their own automation to complement their work. By delegating mundane and repetitive tasks to robots humans are able to focus on more meaningful projects that will boost employee morale and set the standard for an efficient and rewarding workforce.

By Richard French

Source: HR Technologist

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