Two Sides: Should Organizations Automate or Not?

January 07, 2021
MRA Edge
Strategic Planning
HR Technology
Read time: 3 mins

Since COVID-19 has forced organizations to reevaluate how they do business, the use of automation—where a process or procedure is performed with minimal human interaction—may now be more attractive to some industries.

With that in mind, we explore the types of roles where automation could be beneficial and those jobs where human interaction is the only way to go. Two MRA experts each take a side in the automation discussion.

Automate Away!

Automation allows for humans to focus on other things. The best use of automation is when technology and computers take over manual tasks that produce the same results, allowing staff to take that time and think critically or focus on things requiring a human brain to do so.

Let’s consider payroll. Remember back in the day when you had to take your timecard and physically get it stamped with the time when you got to work and when you left? Then someone had to collect all the cards and dive into adding up the hours you worked to figure out what your pay would be. Today there are automated systems in place to do that, freeing up the time spent on that work to be used in different ways, possibly in more strategic roles involving the human interaction aspects of the company,

Automation can be a big help for organizations that have a lot of redundancy and would benefit from more strategic work that impacts the business.

Let’s Hear It for Humans!

Automation is a complicated topic. It has the potential to add value and success to organizations but at the cost of replacing people. Take autonomous vehicles. The shipping industry has the potential of losing thousands of jobs once a viable product is created.

When it comes to experiences like training and learning, face-to-face is more beneficial for many reasons. You get diversity of thought, which is powerful in the moment. People sharing their opinions and ideas, considering others’ perspectives, and hearing compelling stories lends to the learning atmosphere.

Something that doesn’t exist with automation is nonverbal communication. When you’re interacting with others, you can observe nonverbal behavior and clarify or confirm what the other person is thinking, determine if the person is relaxed or confused, and react accordingly.

Also, people have different learning styles. Many learn better when they can see and touch things, versus learning over a screen or a recorded lesson. And for introverted learners, human interaction draws them out and gets them involved.

Cheryl and Zach both agree that the brain power of humans is still the gold standard in the workplace. Humans interacting with each other produce the best results, but automation can create efficiencies and serve a purpose when it frees up people to operate in strategic positions within the organization.

Source: Cheryl Lucas-DeBerry, Learning and Development Manager and Zach Day. Director, Surveys, Custom Research & Analytics, MRA - The Management Association

MRA Edge Jan/Feb 2021 cover

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