This is a guest post provided by a contributor from Better Buys.
When employees hear the word “automation,” they immediately assume their jobs are on the line, which doesn’t make for a positive environment.
Getting employees to understand how automation can improve efficiency and streamline workflows means they’ll be more likely to buy in to the changes heading their way.
When employees buy in, the transition is easier. Morale stays high, since no one’s worried about losing their jobs, and workers can spend time on more important tasks. And especially at a small business, high morale and a positive culture are essential for success.
It’s important for upper management to make employees feel heard, especially when a big change like automation is coming.
With that in mind, here are some strategies to help workers get on board with automation.
1. Start with Management
Confidence is key when introducing a major change to your organization. Workers can smell fear, and they’ll know if your managers and leaders aren’t committed. If upper leadership isn’t committed, you can’t ask the same of lower-level employees.
Speak with top management and make sure everyone is positive and openly supportive of the change. If they have concerns, do your best to address those thoroughly so they can pass the information along to the people they manage.
2. Communicate Extensively
When implementing any sort of automation software, like field service software, or artificial intelligence solution, such as a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), you’ll want to discuss exactly what will be changing and how it will affect employees in each department and role, says Forbes.
Let them know the point of automation isn’t to take their jobs, but to free up their time and energy to focus on more important things.
Rather than spending time performing menial work, such as scheduling machine maintenance, they’ll be able to get to the nitty gritty of their tasks and make a larger impact.
Emphasize that upper management is available to listen to any concerns and answer questions so workers always feel like the lines of communication are open in every direction.
Once automation software is successfully implemented, don’t think communication is over. Administer polls and surveys to workers to see how things are going and what can be fixed or improved. Employees will feel like their voices are being heard, and your systems will be as efficient as possible, since people on the ground will be sharing their experiences.
3. Step Up, Not Out
It’s possible job duties will change for some workers as automation increases, which is why it’s essential to remind them they’re valued at your company so they don’t look for other opportunities.
The quickest way to convince employees to leave your company is making them feel disrespected. Be honest and clear about what will be expected of them once automation is implemented.
Encourage them to think about all the positive attributes they bring to the table, such as interpersonal skills or other intuitive talents, and how those can play a role in their new duties.
In the unfortunate case someone’s role may be eliminated or significantly reduced, brainstorm ways to keep them on. Sometimes that means moving them to a different department or training them to take on new duties, but you’ve already invested in these workers – you don’t want to lose valuable people.
4. Amp Up Training
Speaking of training: If you’re implementing automation, you already know you’ll need to train employees on the new technology. But you’ll also want to encourage workers who may not be working with these solutions hands on to learn about them, too.
It’s good for multiple people to know how to use these solutions, even if they’re not using them frequently, in case anything goes wrong.
Plus, this also can provide an outside perspective on changes that need to be made to the processes or systems themselves. Someone who doesn’t always work with new machinery or technology might have just enough distance to recommend new procedures that improve everything.
In addition, Harvard Business Review recommends customizing training for each department or role. Make sure the training they receive is relevant so they don’t feel like it’s a waste of time.
Many workers fear automation, even if they won’t admit it. They don’t want to lose their jobs or be replaced by robots.
Explaining exactly what automation is, how it can help them do their jobs better and why you’re implementing the technology goes a long way toward easing their fears and ensuring your organization’s automation efforts succeed.
Kelsy Ketchum is an editor for Better Buys, helping companies find and select the right software solution. She also writes about medical coding, human resources and safety compliance.
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Last modified: June 7, 2019