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Automation skills should be "major focus" for HR

More than half of employers are already automating business processes, so HR must keep up

More than half (54%) of leaders think training and development for automation should be a major HR focus over the next five years, according to research from Capita Resourcing.

The Workplace More Human report found that 54% of employers are already automating business processes once performed by people. A further 39% plan to automate more processes over the next 12 months.

Most leaders (83%) said that the right balance of manual and automation is a key competitive differentiator. But organisations were most likely to describe the current balance as ‘a learning curve with some struggles’ (55%).

When it came to employment, 85% of employers expected automation to create more jobs than it will replace in the next 10 years, with benefits including enhanced productivity (76%) and new skills development (54%). Despite this, 72% of employees expressed concerns around loss of work (38%) and the ‘desocialisation’ of the workplace (27%).

Jo Matkin, managing director at Capita Resourcing, warned of the challenges automation presents. “Automation holds considerable advantages for companies and employees alike,” she said. “Yet employee fears and concerns could present a significant barrier to realising its full potential.

"To achieve the perfect blend between human and machine organisations should involve HR in their automation strategy from day one. This will help to fully understand the potential impact on the workforce and ensure that employee concerns are addressed and managed. Open communication about automation and reassuring workers of their unique role is critical.

“In an increasingly automated world the million-dollar question will be how to use the efficiency gained through technology to differentiate your business. Adopting a creative approach to getting human and machine to work together is paramount.”