Should Your HR Department be in Charge of Your RPA Strategy?
Is this list complete? Feel free to add to it.
Here’s my take on the HR/People impact of RPA. Feel free to add to this list in the comments below.
It’s not only about RPA.
RPA is just the entry-point digital.
There is way more to come.
Yes, at the core of all of this is RPA technology. But the same is true about everything in our lives.
When I work with companies, the initial focus is always on the platform and the processes.
But then you get them thinking about really where they are going with this digital journey.
Then they realise how profound the changes will be.
That’s scary and exciting.
At the heart of many of these issues is the people impact.
That’s why I really believe HR needs to be alive to RPA, and at the top table.
Here’s my brain-dump of some examples.
At the heart of it all should be HR, recognising the following:
- Retention. As one department implements RPA, does anyone really believe that everyone is going to just move on to high-value work, now they are freed from the drudgery? The employees certainly don’t, no matter what you say. And if it is true for the first wave, it is not going to apply to all future waves. So how do you remove the risk of flight from all those departments who see the writing on the wall.
- Succession Planning. If all your Team Leaders and Managers come up through the ranks starting at the bottom, where are you going to get the next generation of Team Leaders and Managers when the entry-level jobs no longer exist?
- Training. This is an obvious one, I guess. But who do you train? Who can be retrained? Who can’t be retrained? And what jobs are you really going to need?
- Recruitment. Is HR going to review EVERY vacancy to see if a human is really needed or whether the process should be automated?
- HR Analytics. Maybe HR is sitting on the most important information about which processes to automate, as a priority! If a function is suffering from high staff turnover or absence rates, that is a sign that something is wrong. Maybe it is sheer boredom with repetitive tasks. Is HR going to drive the RPA roll out plan?
- Reward (1). In the old days it was easy. You know how many transactions can be processed in a 40 hour period, and the “value” can be measured from that. But now that staff are moving away from delivering transactions, and meant to be “adding value” how do you reward them. At a simple level, the supermarket checkout job disappears and that role becomes a “customer advisor” walking the aisles, helping shoppers. The value added is likely way greater than scanning items, but the value requires a different measurement.
- Reward (2). You used to run 20 people, now you run 2 people and 40 bots. Success is no longer measured in day to day delivery targets – those are almost guaranteed. Nor are you getting rewarded for implementing more efficiencies – you’ve taken the big leap forward. So how are your Team Leaders and Managers going to be measured for their reward?
- The 40 Hour Working Week. Your teams are now freed from transactional work. But what if they can add as much value in, say, 27 hours as they used to do in 40 hours. Will you let them choose to be present less, happy that they are contributing just as much? Or are we always going to revert to the 40 hour working week, no matter what?
- And this is even before we start talking about the impact of AI and Blockchain.
This is not an exhaustive list, obviously. Feel free to add to it.
But I really am asking, “is your HR leadership really considering the real impact of RPA?”