Can investing in smarter tools to create automation improve employee morale and productivity? Let’s think about it, no employee in their right mind would probably ever turn down a raise, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they need a financial incentive to do their job well.

Question. If you had the choice to do things automatically or manually which would it be?

Businesses today need to be slick in the way they work, avoid unnecessary costs and deliver those all important products and services to their customers quicker than ever, to a high standard and at a competitive price in order to survive. Businesses that adopt the use of smart tools to automate gain a competing advantage in doing so and are better equipped to adapt and therefore evolve. But what about the internal customers, the employees?

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Companies automate for many reasons. Increased productivity is normally the primary reason for many companies desiring a competitive advantage. Smart tools and automation refers to the use of software, computers and other automated machinery for the execution of tasks that a human labourer would otherwise perform. Automation can also reduce human error and thus improve quality.

Other reasons to automate include the presence of a hazardous working environment and the high cost of human labour. The decision regarding automation is often associated with some economic and social considerations.

Shall we simplify things?

Automation with the use of smart tools can capture more time and revenue but where does morale come into play? Time is easy – efficiency increases capacity to perform work, which means you have more time to do other things. Revenue is also easy – efficiency makes it possible to process and attract more business. Morale… now that’s the interesting one!

The HIGH cost of LOW morale

Morale is a state of mind which involves feelings and emotions.  Created within each employee, it is often considered an elusive quality. I think we can all relate to low morale. It involves the attitude and perception towards the job, work environment, team members, managers and the organisation on a whole.  Positive employee morale is usually exhibited by confidence, discipline and willingness to perform.

Increased absenteeism, high turnover and a decrease in quality… sound all too familiar? Low morale is often perceived as intangible, its importance and impact on profits, productivity and financial competitiveness are measureable and affect organisational objectives.

Low morale leads to less engaged teams that are less productive, less customer-focused and prone to withdrawing their efforts and adopting counterproductive behaviour.

This occurs when employees have not been effectively trained or do not feel a sense of ownership over their work. Low morale causes employees to lose interest in going the extra mile, especially when they do not feel valued by managers or care about the projects assigned.

Low morale is an extremely critical area of any business as this costs businesses time and money on recruiting and training.

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A survey conducted across 200 businesses shows us that when it comes to morale, the lack of training and skillsets are the largest contributor to unhappy employees. Smart tools are a great driver for improving skills and training staff to be more in tune with the organisation objectives. The important point is that automation and improved tools for employees were not considered as part of the options and responses to tackle employee morale. This is a growing area in understanding the benefits smart tools can bring.

To survive let us Automate or Perish

Let’s face it, how many times have you followed a business process or task at work and either shortcut the process or tried to improve it yourself to save you time and stress perhaps? For me, all too often.

On reflection now, I ask myself, where did it get me and what did it do for me? How did it leave me feeling? Performing tasks quicker, to a better standard and improving workload left me with a feeling of control, more enthusiastic about my approach to work and the willingness to suggest improvements to efficiency with management. Ultimately I felt a greater presence and purpose.

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Successful businesses will be those that optimise the mix of humans, robots, and algorithms. Any work that is repetitive or fairly well structured is open to full or partial automation. So how does the use of smarter tools to automate and improve productivity and morale actually work?

Successful businesses will be those that optimise the mix of humans, robots, and algorithms.

Investing in smart tools to automate encourages employees to use the latest technology, perform tasks quicker and automatically monitor work through to completion. This can free up time for training to learn other skills or to improve and integrate other business processes in order to collaborate across the organisation.

Automation is both healthy for the employer and employee. For instance, a business adopting smart tools to create and manage automation can map their actual business processes using workflow automation that is backed bydocument management, e-forms and Application Program Interfaces (API’s). These tools are controlled by automated systems and that help and drastically improve efficiency and contribute to a healthier culture within the organisation.

Workflows improve visibility by tracking using alerts and notifications and allowing a staff member to instantly check the status of an item/task. It allows the key people to see the critical processes at every point, identifying problems, and bottlenecks, and monitor end to end performance throughout.

Document management  and e-forms allow businesses to become paperless saving money and improving visibility. API’s are a great way to automatically fetch and pull in data from other internal or third party systems.

Will you Collaborate and Educate?

Collaboration is a key benefit within automation and is the experience that integrates people, processes, and technology and improves the connections between people and the information they need to share to produce results.

Collaborative solutions work by offering a range of extended features such as access anywhere at anytime, apps for mobile workers and business partners to integrate in near real-time, optimised for a range of devices like smartphones and tablets, direct apps access s or using real-time alerts and notifications to control tasks, highlight concerns, errors and missed events.

These capabilities assist employees in being accountable for their work and giving them the opportunity to control and overcome problems and challenges them to foresee and avoid future problems from arising.

Automation enables people with lower skill levels to perform higher-level tasks.

Automating a Happy Workforce

One of the most powerful effects of automation in our jobs is the shift in skillsets. Relieving employees from burdening and “tedious” tasks helps to give them time for more specialised responsibilities. Automation enables people with lower skill levels to perform higher-level tasks.

Whilst some of the mundane tasks can be automated, it still requires human intervention to actively monitor and implement automation into business processes and adapt where required. The shift in skillset allows employees to learn and engage with new technologies and methodologies, and helps employees appreciate the positive impact on the working environment and within the organisation as a whole.

Automation results in dividing the common simple tasks, for example sending reports, emailing notifications and chasing tasks, analysing data sets, highlighting anomalies with invoicing costs. These common tasks are separated from those that are variable or require more human consideration and decision making like creating types of reports, analysing data in a particular way or when change to workflows or automated processes are required.

Reducing errors is a particularly beneficial area when implementing automation. Removing the repetitive tasks to be performed by workflows eliminates errors and routine work. This both saves time, money and improves productivity by getting things done first time round and to the right standard.

All of this, leads to employees managing workloads better, improving the way they work and how they feel about themselves. Motivated.

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Investing and improving the range of tools employees are resourced with to perform their tasks and responsibilitiesquicker and better will show employees that you care about them, which is the best motivation tool of all.

Can smart tools improve productivity and morale? We believe they can, and in ways perhaps you were not aware of……What do you think?