As robotic process automation (RPA) initiatives gain momentum, companies are recognising the need to keep employees at the core of their change initiatives.
This was one of the findings of a Forrester Consulting thought leadership paper, commissioned by UiPath and released this month, called "The Impact of RPA on Employee Experience".
Forrester gathered data from 100 decision-makers at manager level or above from operations groups, shared services, finance and accounting, HR, and other core business lines to evaluate how RPA affects employee engagement.
It found a workforce that is both engaged and happy allows businesses to reap the benefits of the transformative potential of RPA. The study also revealed the introduction of RPA has been both a blessing and, in some instances, a potential curse to the workforce.
On the plus side, the report reveals 66% of those surveyed said RPA restructures and automates existing work, enabling employees to have more human interactions, and 60% said RPA helps people focus on more meaningful, strategic tasks.
On the down side, badly managed RPA efforts added to existing fears in the workplace, stirring discontent and dissatisfaction that could negatively impact the bottom line.
"With RPA adoption accelerating, firms must take a broader view of automation efforts, keeping employees at the core as much as customers," the report said.
The research also highlighted the fact that operating model issues and psychological barriers hold back the potential of RPA.
Organisations are having issues with scaling their RPA solutions, due in part to a dearth of trained personnel and resources required to support and employ RPA technology.
Nearly half (43%) of those surveyed claimed to have problems understanding the various deployment options available to them. Moreover, business leaders need to overcome the psychological impact of RPA on their staff.
"Well-designed change management programmes, communication and collaboration between the business and workers are therefore crucial."
The benefits of RPA reported by the respondents include increased efficiency (86%), deeper insights into customers (67%), improved customer service (57%), and improved employee engagement (57%).
Keeping the workforce engaged and happy is a crucial part of deploying RPA to improve customer outcomes. Businesses need to be both employee- and customer-centric in their approach to really harness the benefits brought by RPA, the study concluded.