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Optimising intelligence: what do tech professionals want from an automated workplace?

By James Milligan, Director UK & Ireland, EMEA for Technology and Project Solutions

Operating on the front line of the automation revolution, tech professionals are finding themselves in the enviable position of building and integrating the technology that is transforming workplaces across the world. This is reflected in the optimism demonstrated by the technology respondents surveyed for the Hays What Workers Want 2019 report, with an overwhelming 90% of tech professionals believing we should embrace automation in the workplace, and the vast majority also aware of the benefits that it can bring. A further 59% also believe that automation will allow opportunities to add greater human value in the future, much higher than the 48% UK average.

Employers must be sure to capitalise on this optimism by providing tech professionals with the required resources, skills, guidance and transparency needed to allow professionals to successfully deliver automation programmes and extricate maximum value from them. So, what can tech employers do to keep the automation journey as smooth as possible for professionals?

1. Provide information around technology investments

Only 44% of technology employers promote their organisation’s investment in digital transformation in interviews, and only 41% promote it in job adverts. This represents a missed opportunity for those looking to recruit, as 60% of technology employees would be attracted to work for an organisation that’s investing in automation or plans to do so. Nearly a quarter (22%) say that it’s a ‘vital’ component when deciding whether or not they want to work for an organisation. A further 62% of technology professionals would like to hear about an organisation’s investment in automation during interview, and 59% would like to read about it in a job advert.

Technology employers should ensure that they promote any investment in automation throughout the candidate’s application journey, encompassing job adverts, interviews and on-boarding. Employers should take care to emphasise what the investment might mean for individual employees and their professional development.

2. Offer training opportunities

40% of tech employers say that they currently don’t have the right skills to enable them to make the best use of automation technology, with 31% citing moderate skills shortages and 9% labelling them extreme. Tech professionals, in kind, see upskilling as a high priority, with 74% saying they are upskilling in technical areas through their own training and development, higher than the 61% UK average. However, 59% of tech respondents deem it primarily the responsibility of employers to equip professionals with the skills required to work with automation, with only 18% saying it is the responsibility of the individual.

In response to this, employers should review the training offers they currently provide, and consider whether it is an area they should be investing in more heavily. In a continuously evolving space like technology having the right skills is essential in order for professionals to successfully deliver automation projects, not only for their own organisation, but for external customers.

3. Utilise talent management strategies to combat increased workloads

Automation is having a varying impact on technology professionals’ workloads, depending on the area they are working in. For those who are delivering and customising technology integrations, 31% have seen a decrease in their administrative tasks, whilst of those working in building bespoke solutions, only 24% have seen a decrease. Moreover, of those delivering and customising technology integrations, 25% have seen an increase in analytical tasks, whilst of the professionals building bespoke solutions, only 16% say they have increased.

Tech employers should be aware of how automation is impacting the tasks their team are undertaking. If tasks are increasing, this should be in areas where it can help to add human value, such as strategic thinking and innovation. In the wake of automation implementation workloads should be closely monitored and employers should assess whether or not additional permanent or contract staff should be allocated to help alleviate pressure on current employees and drive efficiencies across the business.

To discover further insights into how automation is impacting jobs and the steps you can take to prepare, get your copy of the Hays What Workers Want Report 2019.

About this author

James is Director of Hays IT, Digital Technology and Project Solutions in the UK, Ireland and EMEA. Having joined in 2000, he is responsible for the strategy of Hays’ Project Solutions, IT and Digital Technology businesses, which includes IT contracting, permanent technology recruitment, resource augmentation and statement of work solutions across both the private and public sectors.

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