How to Automate Business Processes While Keeping Veteran Employees On Board

A veteran traveling sales rep, used to having an administrative assistant fax custom contract information when he closes, struggles to use the automated document-generation tool his company recently implemented.

Some employees will be reluctant to use new automated business processes.

A customer service specialist can manually update customer accounts in various systems with her eyes closed, but she has trouble grasping her organization's Salesforce cloud integration.

An HR assistant doesn't understand the value of her workplace's new applicant data-mining solution and secretly continues to use the manual hiring processes.

One common hurdle in business is a failure to adapt after the organization implements new technology to automate or upgrade business processes. And though it may sound like a classic case of "the stubborn older person resisting technology" to younger people, it's a problem otherwise competent and high-performing employees struggle with every day. What do you do when tools designed to make jobs easier... don't?

It's not an easy challenge to address. Solutions will depend on the employee, the solution, and the specific problems sitting between the two. Even then, it's a concern every business needs to overcome at some level.

Yes, Virginia, There is a Generation Gap

By now, everyone has seen articles about the technological generation gap and how the era employees are born in can drive their attitude toward technology. Where a millennial employee may quickly buy into new technologies, it's easy to see a Boomer or even Gen Xer taking an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" outlook.

The difference between these camps is a major consideration. That's especially true when tradition-driven workplaces attempt to automate. Considering office technology's ever-growing trend toward interplay, changes that touch multiple systems are the norm. The office implementing Salesforce may have tools that improve customer relationship management and marketing, while the company with new HR software could mesh its solution with tools that cover the entirety of an employee's tenure.

A common hurdle is a failure to adapt after the organization attempts to automate business processes.

Can You Automate Business Processes in a Tradition-Bound Workplace?

Complicating matters is the fact that sticking with tradition "just because" rarely leads anywhere ownership wants to go. Technological integration is a key to growing your customer base, not to mention retaining those customers you've already fought hard to win. On the employee side, the efficiencies and improvements automation offers also lead back around to customers, resulting in better prices, higher profits, and a vastly improved customer experience.

Further, no leadership wants to watch established employees struggle as they perceive their workplace as yanking the rug out from under them. Attempts to automate business processes should be met with the following engagement practices:

  • Meet Them Where They Are: Show exactly how much time the change will save people in their specific roles, using live demonstrations and one-to-one meetings.
  • Offer Ongoing Help: Find veteran employees who are comfortable with the new automation and incentivize them to act as a sort of informal help desk.
  • Listen to Complaints and Take Them Seriously: If you consistently hear the same things about your new system, it may be time to make some changes.
  • Use Punishment as a Last Resort: Resistant employees should be given time to adjust and should only be punished if they display a continual, deliberate refusal to make a change or their alternative practice puts the business at risk.

To reiterate, adapting a tradition-minded workforce to new tools is a context-specific challenge. If you've identified effective goodwill strategies from your previous technological rollouts, don't be afraid to implement them.

Cloud and Automation and Success, Oh My!

Sometimes, the answer to tech problems is more tech. Besides improving the efficacy and reach of automation solutions, cloud integration can help businesses bundle the changes with perks that make the change appealing to resistant employees.

First up is the idea that the cloud busts down silos. Automated systems that move to the cloud are easier to integrate, making automation efforts feel more natural and useful in the process. For example, an automated metric-reporting system could push to an internal stat-tracking site and individual employees' performance files when all three are moved to the cloud.

Then there are the perks. An automation process that also gives employees the opportunity to telecommute or work from home is more likely to be met with open arms. The same rule goes for automation changes that add flexibility to workflows. If your resistant employee finds he no longer has to drop by the office to manually update this metric or that, he's more likely to be receptive.

Why Wait? Automate

The path to automation is ultimately an inevitable one. Whatever processes your business needs to bolster, this makes keeping an eye toward employee engagement and goodwill measures crucial. If you're already dealing with a host of resistant employees, it's time to start thinking about solutions — and if you're still in the planning phases of cloud migration, you'll definitely want to consider measures as you go.

Visit Vonage Business to learn more about automation's value — and its ease of use — in the workplace.

Vonage Staff

Written by Vonage Staff

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