How tech is fueling the Great Resignation and building a new future of work

Instead of focusing on the Great Resignation, maybe the beginning of a new year is a perfect opportunity for businesses to re-examine their corporate culture.

The last two years' events have left many employees around the world feeling physically and emotionally exhausted. A feeling of disillusionment was magnified by computers, remote network access, and legacy applications failing to work as they should when working away from the office. The rise of workplace surveillance and endless Zoom calls combined with ignored requests for the right to disconnect was also responsible for many workers dangerously flirting with burnout.

As a result, many will be returning to work after the holidays with remote working gadgets such as mouse jigglers that simulate the movement of your mouse to prevent the screensaver from starting and outwit corporate surveillance tools. But a cat and mouse game between employee and micromanager is not the best start to 2022.

Spending less time commuting to the office and more time with family was also responsible for the global workforce collectively re-evaluating their lives. In addition, the so-called Great Resignation suggests that up to 95% of the workforce are considering leaving their current position or are reconsidering their options.

The security risks of the Great Resignation

One of the neglected impacts of the Great Resignation is that disengaged or disillusioned employees are more likely to skirt security policies and unwittingly put their organization at risk. The burnout breach report revealed how burnout increases security risks at a time where a wide range of attacks increases in businesses and corporate networks.

There is also an argument that the impacts of apathy and indifference infecting an organization could play a big part in successful phishing or ransomware attacks. The training and support required to build a culture of security needed to protect the workplace often fell by the wayside as the skills gap across multiple industries continues to widen.

Nervous organizations have been very sluggish in replacing people during a period of extended uncertainty. But as we head into 2022, there is a backlog of new shiny tech projects waiting to meet the evolving needs of their customers. Pre-pandemic, automation was seen as a dirty word in business, but when faced with a shortage of tech skills, many companies are now beginning to explore alternate ways of getting projects over the line.

In September 2021, over 4.4 million workers left their jobs in the US, making it the highest monthly total ever recorded.

Most notably, younger adults are quitting low-paying employment and searching for a better career that will enable them to secure a better future. As a result, businesses are turning to intelligent automation and robotic process automation (RPA) to get their objectives back on track.

Why automation will not replace workers

Advances in technology mean that machines can automate repetitive and mundane tasks and complete them more efficiently. Prominent examples would be invoice processing, payment reminders, reporting, and almost any form of data entry. But this is just scratching the surface of how automation can set employees free from a robotic working life and clock watching.

One of the most common misconceptions is that bringing automation into the workplace means employers no longer need human employees.

The reality is a binary choice between humans and machines will only end in disaster. But when the two complement each other rather than compete, businesses have a much more robust and resilient workforce.

Employees can finally step away from staring at spreadsheets by automating repetitive business processes. Alternatively, staff can focus on value-add activities while also exploring their more creative and innovative side. In ten years, many will wonder why we didn't see that employees could have brought so much more to the table than merely entering data and responding to repetitive inquiries.

The future of work

The changes in consumer behavior since the pandemic are well documented. But the needs and outlook of employees have transformed too. The modern employee wants to contribute to the organization's success and feel valued. Humans instinctively want to feel part of something bigger and have an emotional connection with a workplace culture that aligns with their values.

Intelligent automation technology should not be seen as a replacement for talent fleeing their organization in droves. By contrast, technology tools should be leveraged to augment the work of their existing staff.

Rather than replacing people with machines, successful businesses will be the ones that empower their human workforce to deliver greater value to their company.

Although technology is being blamed for the Great Resignation, hopefully, 2022 will be the year where the conversation shifts towards a Great Retention. By allowing technology to take care of the repetitive and mundane tasks, employees should be allowed to unleash their human skills in areas that machines cannot compete such as creativity, collaboration, communication, and engagement.

Ironically, contrary to popular opinion, technology will play a critical role in building a more human workplace.

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