Automation of business process

Caroline Mboijana. PHOTO/FILE 

What you need to know:

I am the human resources manager for an organisation that has gone through significant change following the onset of Covid-19

Dear Caroline,

I am the human resources manager for an organisation that has gone through significant change following the onset of Covid-19. Another change is the automation of some business processes; I fear it will also cause employee anxiety as some roles may be made redundant. How do I manage this situation?


H ello James, the last two years caused many to re-think how they run and operate their businesses, including how they manage their people. This continuous review is ongoing, and it is not about to stop. Many will not revert to “how it was before” because everyone’s expectations have changed. Technology came central to the key to success during the epidemic, and many businesses were forced to adapt.

The adjustment also highlighted that some processes could be managed remotely, and critical software systems could also do work that people were doing. The expectation is that automation will automatically bring about efficiency. While this may be the case, we must remember that we still need the human element to manage these new automated processes. As the head of HR, your responsibility is to ensure that any transition to automation is managed well and with a humane approach. You need to understand which processes are being considered for automation and why. You are the person people will come to for explanations and answers. You need to provide a sound rationale for the business decision.

Secondly, you need to start working with the automation team to understand the skills required for the people who will manage these processes. It is unlikely that automation will be immediate. Instead, it will take time and be handled in a phased manner. At some point in the process, you are likely to start planning for redundancies, which is also a sensitive aspect. While the above sounds doom and gloom, it is also an opportunity to highlight the importance of the manager-employee relationship. Automation is likely to reduce the work a manager must complete. The manager can then use this additional time to create space, so s/he is available to support staff and allow managers to develop and become better leaders. The number of staff may be reduced, but those who remain must be managed through the transition, and the manager must play a critical role in managing the successful change. It’s a balancing act that needs to be managed carefully. Good luck

Caroline Mboijana,

Managing Director, The Leadership Team (U)  [email protected]


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