Getting employees on board with automation
Could automation be the key to revolutionising the accountancy and finance profession? Employers in the sector are certainly positive about its impact on the world of work, but successful implementation requires buy-in from staff as well as the senior leadership team. Below I explore findings from the Hays What Workers Want Report 2019 which shed light on how employers can smoothly implement automation technology by ensuring their staff are on board.
Develop a culture for change
Our research shows strong investment into automation in the accountancy and finance sector, but how are employees managing it? Finance professionals are overall positive about its presence in the workplace, with slightly more employers feeling we should embrace automation in the workplace (92%) than employees (85%). When it comes to digital transformation overall, employers also consider themselves to have a more positive mindset (77%) than to their staff (70%).
To make sure employees are willingly adopting new technology, employers should consider hiring change experts such as change managers with large programme management skills or enable current staff to become change agents. This support will ensure your workplace can cope with change now and in the future and, crucially, make sure this is properly communicated throughout your business to engage your employees.
In the current skills short market, it’s not surprising that almost two fifths of finance employers (59%) cite a lack of skills from their current staff as the biggest barrier against implementing automation. Most accountancy and finance respondents (61%) believe their employer holds the responsibility to equip them with the skills needed to use this technology, but when it comes to digital transformation overall, over a third of employees don’t feel that their employer is helping them prepare.
Due to this lack of support, employees are upskilling themselves in areas such as their ability to learn (37%) and problem solving (36%) in order to work with automation technology. Employers are urged to support staff with professional learning through a variety of methods such as formal training, online courses, events and wider reading so staff can keep up with the pace of change and don’t feel forced to seek training on their own.
As well as the right mindset, keeping your employees in the know is key to making sure they are on board with your investment. As currently more than one in five (22%) employees aren’t aware of what automation can offer in the workplace, a good starting point is to communicate the benefits of your investment to your workforce.
Don’t be afraid to also promote your investment at key points of the recruitment journey. Our research shows that over half (52%) of potential finance employees want to be told about this in job ads, whereas only 21% of employers actually do this. 52% would also be attracted to work for an organisation that is investing in automation or has plans to do so. As such, I’d urge employers to rethink their strategy for raising awareness of their investment into digital transformation to make sure both current and future employees are aware and supportive of this.
For your investment in new technology to be smoothly implemented, your staff need to be behind it. That’s why building the right culture, supporting your employees’ learning and raising awareness should be key focuses for employers in the sector. For more information about the findings of this report, visit www.hays.co.uk/what-workers-want.
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Karen Young, Director, Hays Accountancy & Finance
Karen is a Director and recruiting expert at Hays Accountancy & Finance. She provides strategic leadership to a team of 400 accountancy and finance recruitment professionals across 100 UK offices. With 20 years of finance recruitment experience, Karen has a...