Grinding your People to the Ground (Not)
All industries are not equally advanced technologically, nor are all organizations the same in an industry. Particular sectors in many industries remain behind too. Often, technological laggardness, when it becomes an everyday stumbling block, leads to work stress and frustration. Stretch it a bit more and it will lead to attrition as well. The employer can choose to throwing in sops, keep claiming high engagement but people just keep leaving.
Allow me to narrate three anecdotes.
This $0.5Bn insurance company in India, has a customer care contact centre with about 200 associates all working with 15” monitors. The applications that they use, of course, go way beyond the page fold. Data that they receive over the phone (from their customers and care providers) and type into certain fields must be verified / matched with other data already in the system. They spend above 20% of their time scrolling up and down, and sideways. The company doesn’t want to spend a little bit more on larger monitors.
Then at this large services organization, a particular unit employs extremely talented, post grad educated people to process documents and records. The backbone system isn’t integrated with the particular application that they use to enter data by matching with the document being processed. That causes them to use three screens, one showing the backbone system, the second to show the document being processed and the third shows the application they are entering data into, from the other two screens.
The third is a globally distributed document processing situation where people from many locations scan documents into a system, without much quality control, process compliance or accountability. People on the backend QC the documents to check for orientation of the documents (portrait or landscape), readability of the document, and correctness of numbering. Not just that, the number of rounds of QC are more than one.
Do these situations sound familiar? Or have you seen work situations analogous to what is described above? You will agree, in a fashion, for a white collared worker, these situations are nothing but frustrating. Living through this eight hours a day, every day, every month is inhuman.
In each of these three scenarios, the people in these jobs are paid well (relative to the market), show high level of engagement with the organization that they work for. What also is common, wait for it, is constant attrition between 22–30%. Not surprising, is it?
Strangely, many of these organizations continue to be technology backward and have still not really figured how to use tech to makes lives easier. The low cost point of labour, often prevents these companies from taking that vital step forward. While in some cases, why change something not broken. Lot to do with company values and philosophy as well, you will appreciate.
These are exact situations where process automation can automate work. Bots under and RPA program can bring back the ‘humaneness’. Easily. In the first situation, automatic verification; in the second, automatic matching and data input; in the third simple, automatic checks and OCR.
Clearly the investment made to alleviate these frustrating situations with automation will pay for itself rapidly just in terms of cost of attrition; not even counting the large jumps due to gain in productivity by eliminating process and IT-integration stupidity.
The point is, RPA isn’t just about productivity, efficiency and cost take out. RPA also has a lot to do with liberating the humans.