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RPA Offers Solution to the ‘Great Resignation’ Workforce Strain

Here’s how a digital workforce can alleviate the effects of the current labor shortage, and how mainstream automation adoption can help prevent another mass employee exodus in the future

One of the biggest drivers for increased RPA adoption over the last year has come from organizations trying to mitigate the business impact of the Great Resignation – the dramatic and widespread spike in U.S. staff departures from spring 2021 to the present.

This mass exodus of workers has had a staggering effect on the labor market, especially in the United States: in September 2021, 4.4 million Americans quit their jobs – that’s 3% of the country’s total workforce. And according to a January 2022 jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, well over 20 million Americans quit their jobs in the second half of 2021. The resulting economic impact has been severe, with supply chains frozen and inflation looming – and businesses of all sizes are feeling the strain. With the COVID-era workforce participation rate remaining below pre-pandemic levels, companies are struggling to handle employee burnout, staff shortages in the face of high turnover, and a lack of skilled workers to handle critical processes.

With all of these challenges threatening business operations, strategic leaders have been turning to automation for a solution. Here are four ways the technology is helping companies lessen the impact of the great resignation.

Eliminating Burnout

Understaffed companies are piling more work on their existing employees, which can quickly lead to staff fatigue, reduced concentration, lower efficacy, and risk of quitting. According to McKinsey, many U.S. workers who left their jobs in 2021 cited burnout as a top reason for their departure. Employee burnout rose steeply during COVID-19, with an Indeed report from March revealing that out of 1,500 surveyed respondents, 67% said that they were feeling burned out and that this feeling had worsened over the pandemic. Luckily, RPA can help lighten the load. Bots can handle large volumes of work and can easily ramp up their workload capacity to accommodate for increases in volume, delivering high quality work with faster process completion times.

With pandemic burnout affecting healthcare workers at higher rates, automation offers a major opportunity to relieve these overburdened essential workers of admin tasks. RPA bots can work 24/7 without interruption and don’t get tired, distracted, or take sick days. Workers in patient-facing roles like physicians and nursing staff can offload the manual drudgery that causes burnout to their robotic counterparts, enabling them to spend more time on knowledge work and patient care.

Streamlining Recruitment and Onboarding

In a January 2022 report from UiPath, 69% of surveyed executives said that higher rates of onboarding and offboarding were disrupting workflows in their businesses. RPA can be implemented to streamline these processes while freeing up your HR professionals to focus their efforts on employee retention and recruitment. With the shortage in skilled workers pushing companies to compete for top talent, RPA bots can be put to work in HR functions to proactively attract and connect with candidates, screen applicants, identify the top candidates, and categorize and notify all candidates of their interview results. RPA bots can streamline the tedious onboarding process to send a new hire their onboarding and policy documents, and are able to automatically create a new user account, email address, and access rights for applications – saving time and costs for your HR team and allowing new hires to get started smoothly.

Closing Process Knowledge Gaps to Strengthen Business Continuity

When employees leave in droves, it becomes a challenge to any company’s continuity strategy to replace the knowledge, skills, and experience that have been lost. RPA can help by taking workers’ institutional knowledge of business processes and turning their knowledge and best practices into automated workflows. The use of RPA also promotes process transparency since RPA teams are responsible for creating centralized and up-to-date process documentation. Further, businesses in the early stages of their automation journey can benefit from using process and task mining tools to obtain critical details about the systems, data, and tasks that make up their business processes to better understand where they have bottlenecks and gaps in their reporting documentation. The insights delivered can help these organizations update their business continuity plans so their processes face less disruption during times of high turnover.

Making More Time for Meaningful Work

Employees who spend hours of the workday on routine tasks may feel that there is a lack of opportunity for them to advance in their careers. A 2021 Adobe report cites repetitive and tedious tasks as a leading reason for younger employees feeling dissatisfied and resigning, leading companies to seek new ways to make their employees feel fulfilled on both a professional and personal level. RPA offers a solution: creating a workplace where simple, routine functions are automated allows your staff to feel like their knowledge and skills are being put to good use. By switching their focus to more challenging and creative projects, employees are more likely to stay as they feel their work adds value to the company’s bottom line. Businesses can take it a step further by fostering a citizen developer culture in which employees are given the training to create simple automations for themselves and their department. By normalizing humans and robots working side by side, employees are empowered to work at the top of their skill sets and know they can offload smaller, routine tasks to their robotic counterpart, leading to greater employee satisfaction and productivity at the organizational level.

At this point, it is safe to assume that the great resignation isn’t over just yet, and that the trend will continue into 2022. Now is a prime time to explore automation and the ways it can augment your human workforce and recruitment efforts. Talk to our experts to learn more about how your company can engage employees with automation.