Signs It’s Time to Automate, Part 1: People Problems
Here at Compli, we’re in the business of workforce process automation. In non-tech speak, that means we help companies save time, money, and hassle by taking busywork out of the hands of employees. It’s a fascinating line of work, and one that raises lots of questions from curious customers and prospects—questions like…
- When is automation the right idea?
- Am I a good candidate for workforce initiative automation?
- What kinds of business processes can I automate?
- After I’ve decided to automate, what should I do first?
- How do I get the most out of the tools I’ve purchased?
- How long do we have until the machines take over society?
All of which are great questions—except for maybe that last one, because our goal is to make human jobs easier, not obsolete. We are, after all, humans ourselves. For the most part.
In any case, having worked in automation for 15 years, we can distill this admittedly complex topic—when, what, and how to automate—into a few key themes, indicators, and/or considerations. Let’s call them… themindicons? Concatoremes? Nah. We’ll call them signs it’s time to automate.
The first sign? People problems.
What Are People Problems?
If you’re wondering whether automation is a good fit for your organization, take a look at your people first. Are your employees happy, productive, and engaged at work? Are you facing significant issues related to discipline, teamwork, accountability, and so on?
One obvious source—and symptom—of people problems is change. Change may occur as a result of high turnover, but it can also be a byproduct of positive events such as a period of growth or a merger or acquisition. Whatever the reason, a large influx or mass exit of workers tends to disrupt an organization, and its impact frequently reverberates for weeks, months, or years. One termination or resignation leads to another, and another. Before long, you’re frequently recruiting new hires with less and less time to bring them up to speed.
Workforce diversity, although a critical component of any successful organization, has the unfortunate effect of compounding these issues. People of different generations and different ethnicities may have dissimilar learning styles, expectations, and communication preferences. People are the driving force behind organizational culture—and without a stable, fair, and robust culture in place, newcomers may feel undervalued or left out.
What Are Your People Problems Telling You?
The number one sign of people problems is high turnover. But turnover doesn’t just eat into your profits and budget; it also poses significant regulatory risk. The more regulated your industry, the more uncertainty you face. A new hire with an encyclopedia of laws, terminology, and certifications to learn needs tremendous support and mentorship. If your organization can’t provide that from the first day on the job, the employee may miss critical information, arrive at the wrong conclusions, or learn outdated procedures. Or, they may simply think, “this isn’t worth it,” and jump ship. In either scenario, you’ve created a gap in your workforce compliance program.
Beyond opening your organization up for fines and audits, these kinds of people problems can foretell real danger for the well-being, health, and safety of your employees—and your customers. You can’t afford to take shortcuts when training new hires to use heavy equipment, mark a flood-damaged automobile correctly, follow cyber security best practices, or abide by the ever-shifting kaleidoscope of fair lending laws.
How Does Automation Solve People Problems?
With an automated workforce system, you can ensure that your people receive full, correct, objective, and detailed information about how to do their jobs from day one. Rather than figuring things out themselves, waiting days or weeks to receive necessary training, or learning the ropes from an employee who may not have the time to train (and may or may not know what they’re talking about), new hires can join and start contributing the right way immediately.
Even more consequential is the ability of an automated system to send periodic updates and reminders about required forms, policies, and training. In manual environments, it can be exceedingly difficult to chase everyone down, track their progress, and certify their compliance status once a job actually starts.
Automation also facilitates the development of employees and organizational culture. Rather than asking managers to handle and time everything themselves, an automated system transforms mentorship and employee relations into ongoing, data-backed process embedded in daily operations. As a result, employees feel supported, valued, and highly involved in their jobs, and turnover decreases.
Your people are the lifeblood of your organization, but they aren’t the only reason to consider automation. In the next installment in this series, we’ll explore the second sign it’s time to automate: policy problems.