Relying on the digital revolution could end the ‘silent shutdown’

The early 2020s saw an increase in the number of knowledge workers and office workers expressing dissatisfaction with their jobs and their employers. Vocally, this discontent materialized in the “big quit,” where we saw employees quitting en masse, proactively seeking new jobs, or staying on for shorter terms. Nonverbally, these feelings of restlessness led to “silent quitting”, with many doing the bare minimum necessary to “keep” a job.

The Big Resignation and the Quiet Resignation are just two examples of employees demanding more fulfilling work experiences. For businesses, nothing good can come from ignoring these moves. Left unchecked, we will continue to face a disengaged workforce that does less for end consumers and negatively impacts profitability. But how can we improve work environments so employees don’t feel pressured to actively disengage?

Let’s start by looking at the reasons employees disengage. Often, employee frustrations fall into one of three areas: (1) The job to be done; (2) The reward given; and (3) The work environment.

The work to do

Although it may seem easy for a short time, the mundane work eventually becomes mind-numbing. Tedious, repetitive work will never satisfy employees’ desires for development, creativity, recognition, or growth—all requirements at the higher levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If you offer someone a role in society that meets only their basic needs, you should expect a basic level of effort in return.

Today, back-office work can often be done by software, especially artificial intelligence (AI). Implementing AI allows organizations to elevate employees to higher impact roles, improve motivation, and free up time to focus on rewarding tasks. Technology can also help employees manage overwhelming workloads. Employees should not be put in situations where they leave work every day knowing that they will return to an insurmountable workload.

Organizations need to go beyond the approach offered by legacy automation solutions and reinvest in tools such as Intelligent Document Processing (IDP). Embracing digital acceleration and providing employees with a better technology stack eliminates mundane work and better supports employees, especially when a human-centric approach to technology adoption is achieved. Embracing technology, such as IDP, is critical to supporting employees during unexpected workload increases and eliminating inefficient processes that hog employee time.

The reward given

A more efficient organization supports more satisfied customers and ultimately higher profits. Today’s leaders must find a way forward that results in a win-win situation for employees, shareholders and end customers. Employees must be trained to tackle high value-added tasks. These trainings can act as rewards, teach new skills, advance careers, and potentially move employees into a higher pay bracket.

The work environment

If a company wants to get the most out of its employees, it needs to create a culture that rewards and supports those who go above and beyond or risk employees continuing to do more than the bare minimum.

Increasingly, employees are struggling to disentangle their identity from their professional career, and reports of employees becoming disengaged and feeling “emotionally detached” are on the rise. Employers need to embrace digital acceleration to curb this trend and effectively engage teams. It is no longer possible to ignore the pressure exerted by legacy processes and technology on organizational results and employee well-being at work. Now is a great time to embrace human-centric automation and capitalize on technologies like IDP that reduce monotonous tasks and increase workplace fulfillment.

Three Ways to Support Employees with Digital Acceleration

Many leaders are unaware that they have the power to rewrite the narrative of silent surrender. By leveraging the strengths of technology, we can better support people’s workloads and reduce stress, simultaneously improving the employee and customer experience.

  • Eliminate Busy Work: Capable of reading even the most imperfect documents, automation can reduce time spent on paper-heavy tasks. The added layer of flexibility and support helps employees overcome mountains of paperwork, navigate their workloads, and excel at their jobs.
  • Provide opportunities to focus on more meaningful work: By reducing the time employees spend on repetitive tasks such as manual data entry, organizations can provide more freedom to focus on meaningful work that invites creativity and human connection. This could be achieved through more time spent on meaningful work like customer interactions.
  • Increase accuracy and speed: Manual processes are error-prone activities that can dramatically slow operations and increase employee workloads. Welcoming digital acceleration and shifting certain tasks to machines and humans are two of the most effective ways to ensure that employees are not pushed beyond their work limits and that customers are served quickly and accurately. .

Although many leaders have been alarmed by the silent abandonment, we cannot ignore the call for a more sustainable work-life balance.

Promoting digital acceleration and using automation to break down operational silos will counteract the worst effects of silent shutdown so employees don’t feel pressured to actively disengage from work. Increasingly, IDP and other advanced, modern automations will be celebrated for their ability to reduce busy work, improve employee skills, and allow workers to focus on more focused tasks. Leaders must improve today’s work environments and utilize the talents that set us apart from machines: the ability to connect with people and our natural creativity. By complementing human capabilities with digital acceleration and technological advancements, the workplace of tomorrow will be one where employees stay engaged and technology eases the daily grind.

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