Providing every employee with a digital assistant would help to address quiet quitting and better support older workers.
That’s according to UiPath managing director Australia and NZ Mark Fioretto, who says the use of automation and digital assistants can go a long way towards doing this.
Digital assistants are automated software robot assistants which can be provided to each employee so they can have access to selected automations to assist with day-to-day mundane tasks, freeing them up to do more productive and enjoyable tasks.
Australian companies are facing unprecedented challenges in attracting and retaining staff, amid a slowly growing and ageing employee market.
It’s crucial that companies properly engage and support their older employees to help to address some of these issues.
“There are a lot of statistics about an ageing workforce, and if we think about where their engagement is, it’s really about trying to leverage their experience and their tenure,” Fioretto said.
“Quite often it’s things that are learned on the job over a long period of time, enabling them to bring those skills and bring that knowledge to the fore for the company and for the people they’re working alongside.
“Using automation to reduce those things that are really not high-value and helping them extract that experience to share that again with the company itself or the people they’re actually serving.”
According to Australia’s Public Sector Network, nearly a quarter of the public service is now aged over 55 years old, and more than 80,000 employees will look to exit their jobs within the next 10 years.
According to a new IDC report, just under 85 percent of Australian organisations agree that automation will be a critical requirement for business excellence, customer experience and competitive success in the next three years.
The report also found that automation can improve employee morale and retention by more than 20 percent.
Automation in the form of these digital assistants is a key element in addressing many of the skills challenges Australian companies are facing, Fioretto said.
“We believe automation can not only keep talent but attract talent too,” he said.
“It’s enabling people to do the jobs they enjoy and focus on the tasks they enjoy. It creates a more engaged environment for employees and employers.
“Automation in that context can help people make their jobs more satisfactory by removing those repetitive, mundane, rules-based tasks, and that helps with employee retention and satisfaction.”
Many Australian organisations are already adopting these digital assistants, with great benefit, Fioretto said.
“Digital assistants are being applied in many different ways for different sizes of organisations,” he said.
“Fundamentally they’re designed to work alongside humans. Some of the core issues we’re dealing with at the moment are employee retention and increased pressure in the workforce.
Digital assistants have been effectively introduced in call centres, for example, to assist with user experience and the experience of workers, he said.
“There are situations where you can call into a call centre and hear the operator frantically opening screens across different systems, and that’s frustrating for both of you,” Fioretto said.
“A digital assistant can open multiple screens and access systems and enter information just once. They can start to pre-empt some information entered as well, and as a result of that the level of satisfaction goes up.”
Australia is renowned for being an early adopter of cutting-edge technology, and it can lead the way with digital assistants, too.
“Australia is always renowned as an early adopter of tech,” Fioretto said. “Like a lot of industry trends, if we think back to the evolution of mobile phones, smartphones, cloud-based computing and other trends across the workforce, Australia is a really early adopter.
“There are a number of very innovative examples in the private and public sector where automation is being adopted in digital assistants and more broadly across the enterprise.
“Automating back-end functions can increase the ability to serve and for people to be able to take advantage of information and the services that are available.”
It’s important to shift the public perception of automation from a technology that may replace human roles, to one that can assist humans in their work, Fioretto said.
“We as individuals can be more productive and actually use our logic to make high-value decisions,” he said.
“Automation should be seen as complimenting humans and removing those rules-based tasks that we don’t like doing and we’re not great at doing either and focusing on more valuable work.”