How Automation is Being Used to Retain Employees During The Great Resignation

Larissa Lewis January 27, 2022 Automation

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In the wake of The Great Resignation, 86% of U.S. business executives see automation as a remedy against the mass exodus of American workers, according to a new study by UiPath. More sophisticated virtual agents answer the phone when we call customer support lines. Robotic delivery workers zoom down city sidewalks. In some stores, scanners at the exit auto-magically add up our items and charge our card for the haul. Automated technology is embedding itself into every aspect of business. It has quickly become a saving grace for organizations struggling to retain employees. 

To stay afloat during COVID quarantine measures, many organizations went full steam ahead on perfecting their remote work strategy. They furnished employees with home office equipment. They hosted Zoom calls in lieu of in-person meetings and bonded through online games in place of local happy hours, all in an effort to convince staffers that an effective and productive remote workforce was possible. 

Right when their team believed the great experiment was working—many organizations asked workers to upend their new routine and return to the office. Like a magician snatching a tablecloth from underneath a fully set table, upper management assumed everything would come right back down where it belonged. 

It came as a shock to many employers when instead of faithfully toeing the company line, workers heeled about-face for the door. And it wasn’t just a handful of martyrs that opted to quit: a staggering 33 million Americans left their jobs since spring 2021, spurring the trend that employment thought leaders call The Great Resignation. To shore up the endless deluge of exiting employees, 78% of organizations are upping their investment in automation. Here’s how they’re using it to design an effective employee retention strategy. 

Automation creates more desirable and engaging roles

Organizations are finding that their top talent isn’t quitting to kick back and relax: they’re in search of something bigger, brighter, and better. According to the researchers at McKinsey, 70% of employees expect work to contribute to their sense of purpose—leaving positions marred by combing, compiling, and codifying data unfilled. 

For a human professional, these types of tasks include hours of spreadsheet sleuthing, manually migrating data between software, or panning through a mind-numbing array of rows and columns. Workers are burnt out from the mindless legwork to accomplish, well, at the end of the day, nothing all that worthwhile

Automation helps tap the spirit of these go-getters by cutting the repetitive, the humdrum, and the oh-so yawn-worthy tasks from a job description. Nearly 9 out of 10 organizations are using automation to untether their employees from the mundane, shifting the responsibility for data entry and processing over to automated software. The strategy is a boon for companies that want to give their ace performers the leeway to focus on more creative work—the type of purposeful role that top talent will stick with. 

Automation puts work into perspective

Automation makes it easier for team members to stay connected with one another and stay apprised to the progress of large-scale projects. Employees who feel “out of the loop” are more likely to abandon ship, so savvy executives are looking to automated workflow tools like business process management (BPM) platforms to help establish the bigger picture. 

A well-oiled BPM platform can help your team outline a project from start to finish, pinpointing each task that must be completed along the way. Staffers who have transparent visibility into how their workload figures into the company’s overall success are less likely to job hop.

Automated tools ease the workload 

Automation doesn’t need to supplant human work but can complement it greatly. Customer service departments struggling to build their team numbers back up are using chatbots and virtual agents to shoulder some of the load. These robotic workers can quickly answer easy questions like password resets and order tracking inquiries while freeing human staffers to field more challenging issues. Similarly, many organizations are turning to low-code: platforms that transform traditionally complex duties into simpler drag-and-drop, push-button tasks. 

Currently, 51% of organizations offer their employees a suite of training opportunities to better understand these productivity-boosting tools. They not only make jobs easier and companies more profitable, but they whittle down a tedious to-do list into a more manageable load. With fewer stressors on the slate, companies can offer roles that attain the work-life balance that pandemic-strained workers are searching for. 

Derek Thompson of The Atlantic deems The Great Resignation as “free agency”—sports lingo referring to a player’s freedom to sign with any team with the most compelling offer. Team members are now operating with a similar mindset in the workforce, looking for more exciting positions that pay higher salaries, cushier benefits, and more purposeful work. Workers are now unyoked from stressful jobs that underpay and free to find opportunities they find not just more lucrative, but more meaningful. Is your organization using automation to ensure your open positions stand out amongst the noise?

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