Why AI doesn’t have to be taxing
Automation, which can be achieved through a variety of technologies such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and, more recently, generative AI, are changing how we work, but concerns are being raised as to what impact this might have on human skills and expertise.
In my own field of expertise, tax and accounting, people typically spend thousands of hours building their knowledge base and understanding complicated tax data and processes.
There’s no doubt that automating such processes saves time and money, while eliminating some of the more tedious parts of the job, however, there is a worry that completely replacing the human input risks losing something vital. In a world where technology “co-pilots” will become mainstream, how do we train the next generation of pilots?
AI and job development
Both recent graduates and experienced professionals share a common desire for engaging and challenging roles in business, technology, and finance. These roles not only promise growth opportunities but also hold the potential for meaningful career advancement.
While some time still needs to be allocated to manual administrative tasks, the integration of technology can liberate employees, allowing them to focus on activities that propel their careers forward.
For the digitally native Gen-Z workforce, the allure of staying updated with the latest technology is particularly compelling.
It not only equips this demographic with the skills to streamline processes and harness the power of big data analysis but also opens doors to work with cutting-edge technologies that may have been otherwise out of reach.
In the midst of their organisations’ rapid transition towards automation, Learning and Development (L&D) teams find themselves in a pivotal role. They must formulate strategic approaches to attract and retain the best talent for the future.
Research has shown that an overwhelming three-quarters of employees are more inclined to stay with an organisation that prioritises ongoing training and development.
This emphasis on continuous learning is of paramount importance, particularly in the face of a global skills shortage.
Work-based learning remains critical for anyone that wants to advance their career and the best way to learn is from someone who can teach effectively.
Rather than spending hours inputting monotonous data into spreadsheets, it’s much better to spend the time shadowing an expert who is reviewing and quality checking the output from automated systems.
So how can you create a nurturing learning environment for employees, teams and the business?
Below are some thoughts on how to blend the best of both humans and AI within losing some of the core skills that we will need to pass on to our next generation of “pilots”.
Human approach to AI
– Firstly, you need to identify the parts of processes that need to be automated. Begin by assessing which tasks can be automated and which require manual intervention. In my sector, quick wins might be around data entry whereas more complex tax planning and advisory services are most likely best handled by employees.
– It’s also crucial that companies provide ongoing training and development opportunities so employees can learn new skills and work more effectively with AI and automation solutions.
For instance, reskilling and upskilling the workforce in valuable fields such as data analysis, machine learning and programming will help bolster employee skillsets.
– Make sure you share your AI deployment plans with your employees so that they feel more involved and invested is also advisable. Solicit feedback and inspiration from the workforce and make sure they are included in the planning and implementation of new technologies.
– With automation and AI taking care of the more boring and repetitive side of the job, it’s also important to remember that roles can be restructured to ensure employees are adding strategic value. AI means that employees are freed up to concentrate on more complicated, rewarding and higher value tasks, which require human insight and creativity.
– Always remember to put the customer first. Automation can make a positive impact on efficiency and how long it takes to complete a task, however, it shouldn’t be at the cost of the customer’s experience. People would rather interact with a person than a bot so make sure your use of AI and automation is designed to improve the customer journey, not provide obstacles.
– You need to continuously assess your automation tools to make sure they are working properly while also evaluating customer and employee feedback to make ongoing improvements. Monitor the balance between automation and human experience, making adjustments as and when required.
Technology forever adds complexity to our jobs, with new skills to learn and new solutions to master. However, automation and AIs have the potential to transform businesses, making us more nimble and boosting productivity.
In a time where skilled employees are globally thin on the ground, it is important for L&D teams to invest time in learning the automation skills that will improve retention rates.
AI and RPA will enable employees to concentrate on individual productivity and career development, striking the right balance between the human and the machine.
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