Following the pandemic, employee engagement is at its lowest levels since the Great Recession in 2008. A recent Gallup poll showed that only 32% of employees are engaged with their work, and 18% call themselves “actively disengaged.” While it may sound counterintuitive, initiatives like task automation and process orchestration could potentially help with the employee engagement problem.
When done right, automation can help overextended organizations focus more on employee experience and impact. Why do this now? If employee retention isn’t top of mind, it will be very soon for all organizations. The average cost of replacing an employee is shocking 6-9 months of their salary. And, as many organizations engage in quiet hiring — or adding new responsibilities to employees’ plates without adding headcount — relief has to come from somewhere.
Automating otherwise mundane or repetitive tasks can free employees up to do more valuable work and creative problem-solving. Automation’s key ingredient, process orchestration, can ensure that human tasks flow seamlessly into automated processes across workflows with other software systems’ and devices’ processes. Here’s how.
Designing better processes starts with people
Automating human tasks in a workflow starts with designing an effective process. Specifications like Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) can help align key stakeholders on how a process should operate from end-to-end. BPMN uses easy-to-understand, step-by-step flowcharts to describe a business process. That includes where there’s human involvement in an automated process.
Involving key employees in process design and automation is one way to remove some of the stigma or fear. Help them understand how a new process will impact their day-to-day workflow, and how they can reallocate saved time to more valuable or career-advancing tasks. Most employees lack engagement because they don’t get a say, or a chance to see how their career can evolve over time at an organization. Involving them in process planning and design stages can help them visualize how automation can provide a path toward more fulfilling work.
Improving task efficiency
These days, there’s a SaaS solution to handle nearly everything. However, handling how these SaaS apps interact with one another might seem like a full-time job to an overworked employee. That’s where process orchestration can help streamline automated processes that span across different cloud applications or equally software systems, people, and devices.
It could be as simple as applying work assignment patterns to a team across applications. Or, process orchestration could enforce certain controls like escalations or multi-stage approvals, so a supervisor doesn’t have to keep track of everything. Ultimately the goal is to work in tandem with the tools a team already uses. That might mean sending a Slack notification to the person who’s up next in an approval process, or alerting a security professional in PagerDuty when a security incident needs immediate attention. Process orchestration can help teams establish clear ownership and control over otherwise unassigned or unwieldy tasks.
Making room for creativity
The most fulfilling work involves creative freedom and autonomy to think through complex problems. Nothing beats the power of human ingenuity. However, if employees are bogged down by repetitive work, they don’t have the time to do that level of creative thinking. It’s an easy recipe for disaster and disengagement.
Once a well-tuned automation plan is put into place, managers and supervisors can help employees find their way to more creative, productive and fulfilling work. As the Gallup report cited above advises, “evolving how you work will ultimately come down to strong leadership, clear expectations, exceptional teamwork, helping people play to their strengths and regularly having meaningful performance development conversations.”
Enforcing these employee engagement plans is a matter of capacity — automation and process orchestration are the ultimate tools that can unlock time for growth and development. If you give your employees and managers the time they need to take on more valuable work, rather than reacting to a checklist of repetitive tasks, you might just find both productivity and engagement rising.
- How Process Automation Impacts Employee Experience and Retention - February 20, 2023