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Managing Employee Perceptions of Intelligent Automation

If you believe the spin about Intelligent Automation, it’s a little bit like adding ping-pong and foosball tables to the breakroom, with free ice cream and soda available all day too.  Employees will love it since the new technologies will eliminate the boring parts of their jobs so that they can focus on tasks that are more rewarding. Yet the hard realities are that few business cases for large-scale investments (in excess of USD $100,000) get approved for the sole purpose of creating happy employees.    

The most likely scenario is that employees will become concerned as pilots show the power of the new tools.  Even positive change can be difficult, with misinformation and rumors quickly drowning the approved (and true) storyline for how the impact of Intelligent Automation on headcount will play out.  

iPollingTM Results Review
Peeriosity’s iPolling was recently used to explore how member companies were managing the change process for their Intelligent Automation implementations. Responses were posted in real-time, with visibility to company responses available to all Peeriosity members, allowing for direct communication with peers using Peeriosity’s integrated Peer Mail capabilities.

The first question asked respondents to select a response that best describes the overall employee perception of Intelligent Automation within their company’s Shared Services operations.  The majority of responses, at 56%, indicated that “there is some concern regarding IA implementations, but most employees are supportive of the technology”, while 24% indicated that “most employees are aware of the technology, but we are not far enough along in the IA journey for it to be a concern”.  For 10% “there is significant concern among the employee base regarding IA technology and its potential impact on their jobs”, while the remaining 10% indicated that it wasn’t an issue, since their “IA technology journey has not started”.

description of overall employee perception on intelligent automation Setting Project Priorities ipolling

The next question in the poll asked about what the Shared Services operation was doing to address employee concerns regarding the introduction of Intelligent Automation.  For 58% of member companies, there is awareness of the issues, with 27% indicating that “this has been a key component of our overall strategy for IA and we are pleased with the results”, and 31% commenting that “this is something we are aware of, but we need to do a better job of communicating upfront with employees”.   For 9%, the issue “hasn’t received the attention it needs to yet”.    Here are the details:

Here are some comments from responding companies:

  • We have a few bots in development but haven’t implemented anything in production yet. Our communications to the organization on RPA have focused on the benefits of RPA, including freeing up resources to learn new skills and focus on higher value-added tasks in order to add more value for our customers. We plan to use natural attrition, wherever possible, to handle any resulting workforce reductions.
  • The level of automation currently envisioned is not expected to be a significant threat to employment.
  • We have a few bots in production, but see this as just the start of a journey.
  • We think of IA as one of several productivity enablers, and our employee implications need to be addressed from that broader perspective of productivity vs IA, in particular.
  • We already have some of this in place; there is no employee angst about this that I am aware of. While we are in the early stages, so far employees like the fact that automation is doing routine tasks that frees them up to do other things.

Closing Summary
With the implementation of new technologies or changes to work processes, being aware of and managing the change process is an important component of achieving long-term success. The greater the hype and promise, the greater the need to manage expectations, and have a clear and transparent plan for how, what, and why, regarding the potential impact on your employees.

What best describes the overall employee perception of Intelligent Automation at your company’s Shared Services operation?  What steps are you taking to identify and address employee concerns regarding the introduction of Intelligent Automation?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?


“iPolling” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility of all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer Mail, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPolling.

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