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Is your automation journey being held back?

30th Oct 2019
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Organisations across the board are under pressure to keep up with digital transformation which continues to rapidly transform our working and everyday lives. According to findings in the Hays What Workers Want 2019 report, 92% of HR professionals are embracing automation in the workplace. While this is positive, our findings reveal that employers may be holding back their organisation’s automation journey. In this blog I explore the rise of automation in this sector and how employers can make sure they are facilitating its use in their organisation.

Reconsider your hiring strategy to optimise future change

Even though professionals across the sector are embracing automation, over a third (34%) of employers and employees say the pace of technical change is slow at their organisation. Clearly employers have an opportunity to accelerate their automation journey, and the answer might lie in their hiring decisions.

We know from our findings that almost two thirds (65%) of employers have not made, nor intend to make any changes to their recruitment strategy as part of their organisation’s automation investment. Furthermore, only 28% of employers have hired a change manager, team or agency. But without making more considered decisions when it comes to hiring, the pace of change is unlikely to increase.

Reviewing your recruitment approach with the support of an experienced recruitment consultant will ensure that you are hiring candidates with the right attitude and skillsets to adopt new technology. Candidates with an open mindset towards change and those who hold a balance of technical and soft skills will be key to ensure that your organisation picks up its pace of change and excels in its automation journey.

Don’t let skills gaps stand in the way

Managing skills gaps are a challenge for employers across all sectors, but our findings suggest that those in HR need to do more in the way of upskilling to support their automation journey. Over half (53%) of employees believe the responsibility for upskilling lies with their employer, but 61% are developing their own technical skills to work better with automation which is higher than the 52% UK average. Almost two thirds (63%) are doing so through their own training rather than that funded by their employer.

We know that skills gaps are present, as 40% of HR employers say they lack the skills to enable them to make the best use of automation technology. But professionals in this sector are the ones who are responding by upskilling themselves, indicating that employers have an opportunity to invest more heavily in training to close skills gaps which are holding back their automation plans. Whatever their approach, it’s crucial that employees’ development is supported so they do not feel forced to upskill themselves in isolation.

Employers are also encouraged to strike a new balance between technical and soft skills to put professionals in good stead to adapt to technical change both now and in the future. As automation is allowing us to spend more time adding human value to our work, soft skills such as critical thinking, communication and emotional intelligence are of increasing importance and should be factored into training plans.

Avoid a culture resistant to change

Finally, our findings suggest that the wrong culture and mindset can be detrimental to an organisation’s automation journey. In fact, an overwhelming 80% of HR professionals believe that a positive attitude to change is the most important quality to ensure digital transformation in the workplace is a success. Additionally, when asked what their organisation should focus on to make new technology a success, developing a culture that is open for change was ranked most highly by employers and employees.

Considering the recognised importance of culture and mindset, it’s essential that employers create a workplace environment that can facilitate and cope with change now and in the future. This can be achieved by being transparent about digital initiatives across all levels of an organisation and proactively seeking staff feedback about how new technology is being managed.

In such an exciting time of digital transformation, don’t let your organisation fall behind for reasons you can prevent. By reviewing your recruitment strategy, supporting your employees’ upskilling and creating the right culture, you can avoid falling behind the curve and ensure that your organisation is rewarded by the benefits new technology has to offer.

Read more findings from the Hays What Workers Want 2019 report here:  

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