According to a recent McKinsey survey, employee resistance and attracting the right talent rank as the top two automation challenges companies expect to confront over the next three years. Indeed, automation is impacting the workforce across a wide range of areas and industries, including manufacturing, retail fulfillment, and the banking experience.
While challenges remain to drive automation adoption in the workplace—especially among employees—the technology’s ability to change the nature of work by “freeing up workers from repetitive and tedious tasks” offers huge potential for companies, according to McKinsey. But the path to getting there won’t be easy and the results will impact workers across the globe. In fact, the experts at McKinsey predict that 375 million workers worldwide and 30 percent of the U.S. workforce or more will need to update their current skills as a result of automation.
Does your company have a plan in place to help your employees adapt to this change?
Below are four success factors to help companies get automation in the workforce right, according to McKinsey. Take a look:
- Aim high to capture clear value: McKinsey found that successful companies set both aspirational and achievable goals when implementing automation. Specifically, the firm found that “successful companies started with a top-down assessment of the automation opportunity and a clear understanding of their ambition and how to capture the impact.” This includes aiming not only to reduce costs, but also to increase revenue and to improve service. Plus, companies should be looking both internally and externally for value.
- Commit and communicate: Not surprisingly, success requires a high-level commitment from the top—across all functions—along with a commitment to drive change across the organization. According to the McKinsey article, “As a rule of thumb, the most successful companies engage managers covering around 80 percent of total company resources” when carrying out automation initiatives. In addition, clear and consistent communication with employees is a requirement throughout the process.
- Set up the right governance, ensure business drives change, and move quickly: “Implementing automation both at scale and at pace requires a company-wide program and an agile approach,” according to the McKinsey article. From there, a company-wide “transformation team” should be set up to ensure that automation efforts are aligned to business units and departments. This can also help ensure projects to get pushed back to IT-only efforts or lose focus on business transformation. Finally, speed is a factor and requirement for most companies. According to McKinsey research, companies expect to recount their automation implementation costs in anywhere from six months to three years.
- Create internal capabilities: According to the McKinsey article, companies should start building internal capabilities the moment that automation initiatives kick off. This includes helping employees adapt and upskill to new job roles that automation can open up, as well as ensuring the IT department has technology talent needed in house. The good news, according to the McKinsey article, is that most companies have the profiles they need within existing teams to get started and can work with external experts to develop knowledge throughout the implementation process.
Workforce automation is imminent. When implemented properly across the organization—taking both human and technological factors into account—its potential impact on the workforce is profound.
If you’d like to learn more, read the complete McKinsey & Company article.