How intelligent automation can reduce burnout in businesses. 

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Workplace burnout is on the rise. Since the pandemic, we’ve seen a rise in employees suffering from a constant state of both physical and emotional exhaustion. Typically related to long-term stress in one’s job, a growing number of workers feel undervalued and are often overwhelmed with tedious administrative tasks. 

The return to the office is also causing stress, as employees have transformed their lives to fit revised working patterns and achieved a new work-life balance which doesn’t fit returning 2-3 days per week to London for example. We have observed ‘bosses’ insisting on attendance and even threatening the removal of London weighting to force return. An additional growing phenomenon in the workplace; ‘quiet quitting’, the state of working less hard at one’s job, has become a commonality in workplaces to try and cope with exhaustion.

A survey by software firm Asana found that 70% of employees experienced burnout in the last year alone. The Great Resignation is a direct result of skyrocketing employee burnout. A shift in the power dynamics has come about from this: employees want more while businesses are unable to provide. 

Fortunately, there are solutions out there for employers to consider. Typically this would result in an increase in productivity, either at the cost of either the business (hiring more employees) or the individual employee itself. However, there is an answer that solves both problems, one that lies in automation. 

The need for automation

Businesses have seen the benefits of automation and embraced it as a necessary technique to keep productivity up. Although, it has many forms, the most popular of which is Robotic Process Automation (RPA). One form of RPA is that which employs software robots, commonly known as bots, to automate processes to take on tasks typically done by workers. Employed by industries including banking, finance, and retail, it is hugely helpful in absorbing the time and effort taken to complete tedious tasks. 

However, there is a step beyond that, one which businesses must be swift to adapt; Intelligent Automation (IA). This is a software term referring to the combination of RPA and artificial intelligence, resulting in an evolved form of automation which is able to take on even more admin tasks. A simple example would be a digital ‘partner’ who performs the tedious and repetitive tasks such as invoice reconciliation and subsequent payments. This is done 5-days a week with the employee attending maybe 1-2 days to review the digital worker’s output. Then there is the possibility that the employee may have to perform the high-value parts of the tasks to complete the process. In incorporating this technology, it frees the employee’s hands for work in which human intelligence is required. 

Introducing intelligent automation

Intelligent Automation goes far beyond RPA and allows businesses to eliminate repetitive, cumbersome tasks, streamline operations and make better use of their workforces. A hefty proportion of the workload an average office employee faces is admin-related. 

Paperwork and multiple systems mean that data is often siloed. One can only look to the health sector for evidence of this. A report by the BBC recently found that IT systems in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) were outdated to the point that staff have to log into up to 5 different systems to be able to do their jobs to the best of their ability. This proves that legacy automation is no longer fit for purpose. Businesses are seeing seismic shifts in how they operate and the need for modernization is now more than a nice-to-have: it’s a mission-critical necessity. The result is that legacy forms of automation are quickly becoming a hindrance rather than a help. 

Automation grounded in artificial intelligence reduces wasted time. It optimizes operations and better integrates systems whilst evolving and improving through self-learning. Businesses of all sorts rely on these tools to be completed in an accurate, timely and consistent manner. But this extends beyond that, helping deliver work-life balance and raising the well-being level of the staff itself. 

The benefits of the staff

When a business successfully implements Intelligent Automation, it takes away the burden of administrative work. With processes like these to be completely automated, it allows workers to be able to better prioritize their work. 

With fewer administrative tasks on their plate, it frees up workers’ mental capacity, leading to a reduction in mistakes or oversights. Equally, with more time to focus on crucial aspects of the business, workers can undertake new tasks that help them upskill or even devote time to training that will serve their career development. 

If employees make fewer mistakes on a day-to-day basis as well as take on new and different opportunities at work, they will feel a greater sense of job satisfaction. This knock-on effect carries across the board and all the way to the business bottom line. When workers are satisfied, engaged and motivated, businesses see higher levels of productivity and, more importantly, employee retention and talent attraction – key advantages in the era of labor and skills shortages. 

With the rapid evolution of Intelligent Automation, automation grounded in AI is here. It helps businesses navigate the current and future needs of their own demands, but also that of their workers. These remunerative benefits to the business build on the key strengths of workers, allowing for both individual and company-wide growth. 

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Neil Parker

General Manager EMEA at Laiye.

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