Automation has been painted as a threat to employees, and the idea that robots will replace workers and lead to unemployment continues to circulate in some circles. The truth, however, is quite the opposite. According to McKinsey & Company, automation and AI technologies will boost business productivity and GDP growth and drive new levels of prosperity.
There are also many benefits for the workforce. Automation across multiple industries has already benefited the labor force in many ways. This includes increasing employment rates and improving workplace safety.
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Below is an outline of the most common benefits that you and your workforce will experience when automation is integrated into your business.
1. Robots can do the work the humans shouldn’t be doing.
If your business is in the manufacturing industry — or any industry where physical labor is required in the production or logistics process — then accidents and injuries are always a risk. Employees in these environments regularly lift heavy objects, work close to dangerous equipment, or work in an environment where toxic or hazardous substances are stored.
Through automation and the use of robots, workers can be taken out of environments where they may be injured, freeing them up to take on more complex work that cannot be automated. This also allows businesses to more effectively manage human resources, putting employees in positions where they are much more valuable.
2. Automation leads to more jobs.
Automation and AI technologies will boost business productivity and GDP growth and drive new levels of prosperity.
The World Economic Forum predicted that between 2018 and 2022, automation, machines, and algorithms in the workplace will have displaced as many as 75 million jobs globally. That may sound extreme, but in the process, it will also create approximately 133 million new roles. That is a net increase of 58 million new jobs worldwide by 2022.
The report highlights that this process will need to be accompanied by reskilling or upskilling initiatives for existing employees and that safety nets will need to be put in place to protect at-risk workers. Because automation is changing the workforce by taking care of repetitive processes normally fulfilled by physical human labor, it is essential that businesses adjust accordingly by training and promoting internally so they remain competitive.
In a previous interview of Bob Doyle from the Robotic Industries Association in 2013, Doyle stated that “the biggest threat to jobs, it turns out, isn’t robots, but rather the inability to effectively compete. Those horror stories about robots coming to take all of our jobs? “That’s not going to happen.”
3. Automation increases the demand for upskilling the workforce.
Between 2018 and 2022, automation, machines, and algorithms in the workplace will have created approximately 133 million new roles.
Businesses can leverage the increasing demand for employee upskilling to position themselves as learning organizations to create more skilled professionals who will drive growth. And if workers are proactive about their lifelong learning opportunities and partner with employers to acquire new skills, that could put better-paying jobs with more benefits within reach of many more employees.
PwC has embraced the need to upskill the workforce by developing their approach called citizen-led innovation. While they are applying this approach internally on a global scale, it can be used as a roadmap by other businesses to ensure they maximize the upskilling process for growth and recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.
4. Automation can improve the onboarding process.
Poor onboarding processes are a major cause of employee turnover and can cost your business anywhere between 100 to 300 percent of that employee’s salary. An effective onboarding process can reduce employee turnover, while also reducing how long a new employee takes to reach full productivity.
You can create a set of automated emails that new hires receive in their first few weeks to give them valuable tips and information regarding their work or when they pass a milestone. Automating the scheduling of meetings between new hires and their colleagues or superiors can improve time management, while an onboarding app can monitor their workflow and keep them connected with their colleagues for better cohesiveness.
Moving workers away from monotonous work and giving them something that has more importance for the company is a way of showing that they are valued.
All these automation strategies are designed to guide new hires through the onboarding process to ensure they have a positive experience and understand their role quickly. Businesses will then see improved productivity and reduced onboarding periods, as new hires will be given all the necessary guidance to become successful in their roles.
5. Automation leads to improved working conditions and employee retention.
A side effect of replacing tedious, repetitive, and boring tasks with robots and automation is that employees are then free to take on more stimulating and challenging work. Moving workers away from monotonous work and giving them something that has more importance for the company is a way of showing that they are valued.
Feeling valued and having stimulating experiences through their work improves employee well-being, which has a ripple effect. High levels of employee well-being improve group morale, create an enjoyable work environment, and increase employee retention rates.
Automation has many benefits for businesses and the labor force in general. The myth that automation will replace workers and leave them unemployed is false, provided that businesses focus on upskilling their workers to fulfill new roles.