Change is never a popular concept in the workplace, no matter how far-fetching the business benefits of the implementation might be. While Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is an automation technology with the immense transformative potential it still needs to be successfully deployed and widely accepted by employees, for organizations to reap its true benefits. Your organization might have a successful track record of implementing technologies, but the implementation of RPA technology requires an in-depth understanding of existing processes and how your employees perform their tasks.
As a result, most organizations look for suggestions on how to successfully implement RPA technology within the organization and how to communicate its benefits to the users for better adoption. While others might have achieved success with their RPA pilot but struggle when it comes to rolling out the technology across other departments in the organization. Such challenges are understandable, especially considering that RPA is a new technology. However, the first step towards RPA success lies in effectively evangelizing employees through a comprehensive advocacy strategy.
Prepare Your Employees
For decades now, words like “robots” and “automation” have made employees feel uneasy. Often an employee starts fearing that their job will disappear as soon as RPA is implemented. But contrary to all these fears, RPA implementation improves the employee satisfaction level. A Forbes survey discovered that 92% of senior executives believe RPA implementation has led to an improvement in employee satisfaction.
To attain success with the RPA implementation, organizations require a well-defined advocacy plan wherein the users are well aware of how RPA will help them focus on higher-value activities that are more interesting, rewarding, and carry career growth opportunities. Three pillars of such a communication and advocacy plan comprise of:
- Complete awareness and support from the organization’s senior leadership.
- Employee-level advocacy should start from Line of Business (LOB) managers and key employees across departments most affected by the RPA deployment.
- A comprehensive communication plan, complete with tangible marketing assets, to provide employees with all the information they need, every step of the way.
While developing such a comprehensive plan is critical to RPA success, yet many organizations do not know how to create them. Though there is no silver bullet approach to creating a winning RPA advocacy strategy, it is apparent that a successful strategy must do all it can to convey the many benefits for RPA to employees at every level of the organization. Communicating effectively is vital in clearing up common misconceptions about RPA and alleviating employees’ concerns that robots could be coming for their jobs.
Bridge the Knowledge Gap
RPA is a new technology and, understandably, most of your employees don’t know a lot about this transformative technology yet. They might have various apprehensions and under such misconceptions, at a minimum, your employees would distrust RPA and adopt a defensive “wait and see” mindset. At worst, they may actively oppose the implementation and even persuade others to this position. Both of these employee stances can contribute to the RPA rollout failing to reach its full potential. And could put it at risk of lower-than-expected adoption rates and use, a sluggish ROI, and resistance from other departments in the organization.
A comprehensive internal communication strategy enables the organization to proactively communicate with employees. It goes a long way in educating and reassuring employees. Such communications can deliver information to employees about what RPA is, what processes are a natural fit for automation, and how this technology will empower them. Organizations should provide as much information, education, and ongoing training as possible, while the leaders should periodically check in to answer questions users may have. All of this sends the message that the organization understands employee concerns and is fully committed to doing all it can to alleviate them.
It should be taken note that employee engagement is not just a “would-be-nice-to-have” metric for successful implementations of new technologies. A Harvard Business Research study has proven that organizations with highly engaged employees experience 22% greater productivity than those that do not.
Elements of a Successful Employee Advocacy and Communication Strategy
Many elements should go into a successful strategy, including:
- Ongoing Communications: The RPA team should communicate frequently and proactively with the employees. This can be done using regular mails or a newsletter. The communications should share various employee stories, recognize valuable team members, and highlight positive attributes of the RPA implementation.
- RPA Portal: An internal web portal to create the buzz around RPA can be a very effective RPA advocacy tool. The portal may contain blogs, articles, use cases, and provide management performance dashboards.
- Persona Building: Organizations should develop a specific persona for various audience segments, such as senior management, LOB managers, employees, and more. These personas can be instrumental in identifying each group’s interests and motivations and can be used to plan for more effective communications.
- Stakeholder Meetings: The RPA project sponsors should host regular meetings wherein the key stakeholders can raise a concern, contribute to the process, identify areas for improvement, or just stay updated about the progress.
- Webinars and Videos: Webinars and videos can be extremely effective tools in communicating key details about RPA, including its benefits, use case successes, how employees can get started, and more.
- Highlight Success Stories: Communicate how specific departments/teams are leveraging RPA to tackle their process challenges and increase efficiency. Share video interviews where the beneficiaries speak about their experiences and how RPA has transformed the way they work.
- Questionnaires: The RPA team should utilize questionnaires and surveys to periodically check whether the RPA deployment is meeting users’ expectations or what the RPA team can do to improve.
- Training and e-learning: HR and training departments should provide thorough training programs and e-learning modules to enable employees to learn more about RPA. Such educational tools should empower the employees to use RPA to simplify their routine tasks.
- RPA Internal Clubs: User clubs can be a great opportunity to connect with employees who may be interested in launching an RPA project of their own. Club meetings can demonstrate what other departments are doing or have achieved with RPA and highlight lessons learned from past experiences.
- Milestone Celebrations: Organizations should celebrate important RPA milestones with the employees – such as the deployment of the first robot, etc. Such celebrations rally employees around a common cause and encourage employees to start thinking about RPA as their best friend.
According to a Deloitte study, as many as 70% of process transformations or technology implementations “fail due to poor change management.” To overcome this potential issue, organizations need to carefully plan and execute their advocacy and communication strategy. No matter if they’re just starting their automation journey, or if they’ve completed their initial pilot program, organizations should invest time and resources in developing a comprehensive advocacy and communication strategy to harness the power of RPA.