Guest Blog by Alex Rinke, co-founder and CEO, Celonis
Workplace automation is set to surge over the next few years, with developments in AI, robotics and machine learning transforming how we get things done in the professional world. While this represents a huge opportunity for economic growth – with PwC reporting that 7.2 million new jobs could be created by automation in the UK alone – many employers are also fearing that some jobs are at risk of being replaced by bots that are more skilled, and don’t tire as easily as humans. At the same time, employers now find themselves having to manage multi-generational workforces. Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) now make up more than a third of all employees and bring with them a whole new set of working preferences and styles for employers to manage. How to get the most out of a millennial workforce is therefore front of mind for many businesses.
According to a KPMG study, millennials typically display low retention rates, having become accustomed to the job-hopping culture. On average, millennials tend to stay in each role for a maximum of three years – and this trend is only going to become more pronounced, with the generation set to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. Changing jobs so frequently can cause enormous headaches for employers, costing them dearly in recruitment fees and retraining of staff. But as the first digitally-native generation to enter the workforce, millennials may actually be better equipped to deal with – and even embrace – the growing automation trend.
Two birds, one stone
For younger hires, automation can be part of the solution to addressing their different ways of working. Having grown up with apps, on-demand content and social networking in their pockets, millennials are accustomed to using technology for every working process, and actually prefer new communication methods over old in many cases. Workplace automation may therefore offer employees new ways to complete their tasks that meet their different working preferences, which in turn, could motivate them and encourage them to stay in their roles longer. This is all while helping their employers embrace the digital transformation they need.
Breaking the monotony
Research has found that millennials are twice as likely to find themselves bored at work as Baby Boomers. This is particularly true for entry-level professionals who are tasked with carrying out menial, repetitive tasks, such as data entry or factory work. This can lead to lower staff retention rates, as workers who are demotivated in their role are twice as likely to leave a company. With more than half of millennials thinking about their next job opportunity at any given time, companies must find a way to ensure that their next generation of employees are consistently motivated by rewarding, value-adding tasks.
By automating low-level work, human workers will be freed up to focus on more complex tasks, concentrating on strategy, creative innovation and problem solving, which in turn, could lead to greater job satisfaction. Employers will see operational costs reduced as both a result of automating processes and higher staff retention and engagement rates.
Automation as a job perk
Most people are probably familiar with the stereotypical image of a ‘millennial workplace’ – filled with fun perks like ping pong tables in the kitchen and drinks trolleys being wheeled around on Friday afternoons. However, are these gimmicks actually effective in attracting and retaining millennials in the workplace? In reality, when it comes to applying for jobs, millennials are less interested in eye-catching novelty perks, and instead look more for evidence of technologies that enable efficiency and collaboration across the workplace. So, put away the ping pong paddles and dismantle the office slide: instead, employers should be focused on ensuring they are embracing new workplace technology to energise and engage their workforce. This is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’, but a vital requirement to keeping up with the demands of millennial workers.
Understanding what to automate
When automating the workplace, businesses must first be able to understand the ins and outs of their organisation and how day-to-day processes operate. Intelligent technologies, such as process mining, provide an MRI-like ‘full body scan’ into all the processes conducted across a business, and then recommend areas that would benefit the most from automation. This enables the organisation to not only do away with unnecessary menial tasks that stifle creativity but to use a modern Siri-like assistant approach to prioritise those new in the business world to focus on what is most important. The technology can provide prescriptive actions, ultimately increasing operational efficiency across the business and the overall wellbeing of their workers at the same time.
When it comes to managing millennials in the workplace, many employers are concerned over how to best engage their employees and reduce high turnover rates. However, by learning how to understand where automation technologies may be applied most effectively, employers can simultaneously address the frustrations of their staff and increase the efficiency of their operations.