Executive Education

How to Create a Culture That Doesn’t Fear Automation

Business executives

Calm down — robots aren’t here to take our jobs. They’re here to handle boring duties and allow us to focus on tasks that actually bring value. Here are four ways to embrace automation.

Generations of science fiction writers and filmmakers have peddled one particular trope: Robots aren’t to be trusted.

From the alien ships that landed in H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” to HAL 9000’s epic ship sabotage in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” technology has always been seen as “the other.” Is it any wonder, then, that so many workers question — and even fear — automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence?

Like so many other fiction-based constructs, technology hardly lives up to its dark associations. In the real world, most technology is repetitive and automatic in the best way possible. When properly applied at the corporate level, technology enables employees to operate more efficiently, allocate more time to meaningful tasks, and cut out massive amounts of waste.

See Automation as Friend Instead of Foe

What’s there to like about automation from both company and employee perspectives? For one, it’s incredibly predictable. Some of the latest picking technologies offer tried-and-true key performance indicators, meaning vendor companies using those technologies can offer clients unsurpassed service.

In addition to being reliable, automation is also great for businesses that want to scale up. All companies have to do is look at the numbers and make adjustments. And with human labor productivity slowed to a trickle in many Western countries, it’s nice to know that automation can fill the gap and offer opportunities.

Many executives have already realized that adopting automation enables more meaningful work out of humans. Per Deloitte’s findings, about 70% of business leaders see technology as a way to realize human potential. When team members are less mired in mundane tasks, they can focus their brainpower on meaningful pursuits, ideas, and answers.

Build a Culture Unafraid of Automation

Do you still think that your workforce will never fully welcome automation and technology? The key to making it a core element of your work environment is to promote it transparently.

If you’re interested in joining the digital transformation revolution that Deloitte projects will hit $2 trillion by 2022 and create a ripple in the way business is done, take heart. Getting employees comfortable with new technologies isn’t as tough as it might seem. Start changing your company culture with these four strategies:

  1. Hire tech-supportive employees.
    Have to fill a few roles? No matter what department your new hires will work in, make sure they know that they’ll be expected to have a positive attitude toward emerging technologies.
    Tell them upfront. Enlist your technical people when creating job advertisements to ensure applicants know that you’re seeking forward-thinking people. Not only will your candidate pool be more tech-fluent, but those interviewees may yield some creative digital solutions of their own.
  2. Train workers on how to use technology.
    So many tech-based corporate initiatives fail because team members have no idea how to make good use of the solutions. To combat this problem and improve efficiency across the board, offer your people confidence- and knowledge-boosting workshops.
    At each training, focus on key technologies that are important for your audience. This means training marketers on digital transformation platforms relevant to the communications field — or training customer service representatives on technology that they can use immediately. The more relevant education lessons are to the attendees, the greater the odds that the attendees will be eager to try them out.
  3. Educate your staffers on how your company is embracing future technologies.
    Some technologies, like robots crisscrossing a warehouse floor, are readily apparent when we see them. Others aren’t so obvious, especially to personnel who have no reason to use them.
    Be open about the technologies that you have implemented lately as well as any technology solutions you might be considering. You could talk about these topics on your intranet or via Slack channels. Use your historical data to show how these technologies have helped or will help meet and even exceed expectations.
    As a final note, answer the big question your employees will want to know: “What’s in it for me?”
  4. Show what life without tech would be like.
    Want to make the boldest statement possible to your team? Explain in unfiltered terms how bad life would be without any automation.
    At our business, we experience massive holiday spikes. Our employees have learned that technology saves them from working ridiculous, unrealistic hours to keep up. Consequently, it’s easy for them to see how technology can improve their work and personal lives.

By all means, keep reading science fiction books and watching movies about dystopian futures ruled by robots. Just don’t let them color your feelings about automation. It’s an efficient and effective ally that can help the companies willing to use it live long and prosper.

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Jan Bednar
Jan Bednar is the CEO and founder of ShipMonk, a technology company reimagining third-party shipping logistics. Bednar — a native of the Czech Republic — moved to America to attend Florida Atlantic University, where his entrepreneurial interests piqued enough to start BedaBox, a shipping startup that became the ShipMonk’s predecessor. Bednar lives in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Jan Bednar is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. Follow him on Instagram or connect on LinkedIn.