An inclusive workplace is where everyone feels like they belong and their voices are heard. This can be a challenge in any workplace, especially for HR management. We all know the importance of relationships and communication. Still, HR managers often spend too much time on repetitive tasks like checking emails, reading applications, ensuring their companies comply with regulatory checklists, and so on.
Intelligent Automation (IA) can take some of this work off employees’ plates, freeing them to engage in critical and creative thinking while allowing HR managers to focus on fostering inclusivity, diversity, and a more productive workforce. IA can put the “human” back into human resources—and the workplace as a whole.
The Benefits of an Inclusive Culture
Culture may be hard to define, but people know it when they feel it. They know when they’re part of it and when they’re not, leading to toxicity in the workplace.
According to McKinsey, companies emphasizing diversity and pushing for an inclusive work culture outperform competitors by 35 percent. The consulting firm also found having a robust and proactive stance on diversity and inclusivity improves employee performance and job satisfaction. This satisfaction, in turn, can lead to revenue growth and improved profitability year-over-year.
A recent Harvard Business Review of academic studies on identity in the workplace found that “employees who identify in ways that do not conform to the norms used to define and categorize them at work are more likely to feel marginalized, and even threatened.” The review found organizational policies running counter to an employee’s demographic identity often make employees feel their autonomy is constrained. Such sentiment can lead to decreased motivation, engagement, performance, and overall satisfaction. “Further, to younger generations of workers, who are more likely to view self-fashioned identities as the ‘norm,’ a traditional organizational approach can make a company appear out of touch,” the review continues.
The bottom line is when employees feel valued and safe enough to bring their authentic selves to work; they are likely to be happier and more productive. They are also more likely to feel valued and respected by coworkers, encouraging a positive work environment and improved workplace relationships. The environment then fosters workplace partnerships and increased job performance.
How Does Intelligent Automation Fit In?
First, let’s define what we mean by Intelligent Automation (IA). Intelligent Automation combines technologies such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), artificial intelligence/machine learning, intelligent document processing, and many more to emulate a human workforce. IA allows almost any repetitive task to be automated and assigned to a “digital worker,” who can use the same user interfaces as human employees.
IA can help create an inclusive workplace culture by streamlining processes and freeing time for employees to focus on their work. For example, using IA to automate the onboarding process for new employees can save time for both the employees and the HR department. The automated onboarding process can also help ensure all new employees receive the same information and have the same experience, which can help create a sense of a more cohesive work culture. In addition, automating processes such as onboarding helps HR focus more on the “human” side of Human Resources.
Intelligent Automation can also help improve communication between employees and managers.
For example, a recent paper in the Journal of AI, Robotics, and Workplace Automation highlighted how IA could be used to minimize bias in employee performance reviews. Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Conversational AI (CAI) technologies allow companies to automatically monitor performance reviews for biased language and serve as a foundation for company-wide analytics. In addition to improving communication and promoting an inclusive workplace, IA can help maintain compliance with inclusivity goals.
Similarly, an IA-enabled feedback culture could allow the employee to provide feedback on how the workplace functions, helping identify potential problems that might prevent employees from feeling included. The analysis could help create a more level playing field in the workplace.
Finally, IA can help cut down on unconscious bias in hiring. For example, IA can access the entire pipeline of candidates rather than relying on time-and-energy-constrained humans who might fall back on unconscious bias to make the workload manageable.
These examples are just the start of a revolution in using technology to make the workplace more welcoming and inclusive. In the coming years and decades, we’ll see more digital colleagues working alongside humans. They will enable the human workers to work more deeply and thoughtfully and build better relationships with customers—and each other. These digital workers will finally make the workplace more human.