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Automation and Your People: Where Do You Go from Here?

Automation in any process is going to give your business, expenses, and customers a lift. Lower cost of processing, efficiency gains, and shorter time-to-resolution are benefits that impact your business in so many positive ways. But what does that mean for your team? Your people that you have been through it with, and who have continued to be there for you day in and day out? I’ve had so many conversations with clients about this and dealt with it myself directly in the past as a leader. Implementing automation is a no-brainer from a business standpoint, but coming to terms with how this decision may impact your staff can be challenging.

What is the right way to deal with this? In my own experience it’s never an option to decide against automation. Any leader in the world will side-eye that suggestion. So it really comes down to what should you do with your people? Here are three perspectives to consider.

Automation Elevates the Impact of Human Touch

It is rare that an entire process can be automated; every process has complex situations (For example, fraud and disputes involves Representments,, Pre-Arbitration, Customer Escalations and Reopen requests). There will always be actions that still need that human touch. Automation removes the busy work or routine processing and thereby frees up the time and resources necessary to really focus on those areas. Better procedures, process evolution and updates are all possible when you find yourself with the right people and the time to educate them. Taking a step back and looking at the points in your process that require human review really helps you strategize and allocate your team to the necessary areas for your customers and business. Furthermore, the shift from busy work to more meaningful work elevates job fulfillment and results in higher-performing employees.

Reallocating (Not Removing) Resources Enhances Overall Business Performance

Eliminating the need for people in one area of your business doesn’t magically reduce the need for people in other areas. Automating one process presents an opportunity to enhance other processes by reallocating excess staff to another area in your business that needs help. I’ve seen teams and operations do this many times. At first, some may resist (“My people are experts at this, not that”) or fear that success in one area doesn’t necessarily equal success in another. In my own Operations days, I had the same questions. What I learned was that really high performers generally aren’t really good because of the process they work—It’s their drive, intelligence, and dedication that make them good. What makes them strong on your team allows for them to be strong elsewhere – and build up their own resume in the process.

Reducing Under-Performers Propels Your Company Forward

The first two benefits don’t always apply to all of your people, and hard decisions need to be made. If we’re being honest, there are likely some individuals in your organization that are great people—really nice, funny, kind, would take on any challenge or process for you—but they also may not be performing. People like this can get lost in a group that is larger, but when looking at your staff for reductions they tend to become a bit more apparent. I’ve had to do this before, and it was rough. I don’t like it, I don’t want to do it, but I also have a responsibility in my role and to my company to do what is needed. And also, I have a responsibility to that person or those people to hold them accountable. If they are not thriving in their current role, I would be doing them and the company a disservice by keeping them there.

I think it’s an easy topic to discuss in theory – these benefits are simple to see like this. But when the time comes for you and your business to take that step, your team is going to come to you with challenging questions. What I’ve learned is, when it comes time to choose between automation and people, automation allows for more options and more impact to a business, resulting in growth and new possibilities for your customers (and ultimately for your people). The rest of your business will benefit, including your expenses and bottom line, and you can help your people grow beyond the processes they have been doing for years. It may not be the simplest thing in practice, but it’s definitely worth it in the long run.

Rex Richardson Director of Client Processing

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