This article was updated in March 2023 to reflect new trends and current industry information.
The futuristic notion of robots in the workplace is no longer in the future.
In fact, with more companies investing in automation, robots are becoming commonplace in factories and warehouse-centric industries every day. Having robots present in a workplace can bring a ream of benefits to business operations and the employees involved in the day-to-day processes.
However, with any change comes some resistance and worry.
After all, if robots are automating processes, will they take the place of valued employees? There’s no doubt that robots will replace tasks that humans have historically been in charge of in a warehouse.
Yet, by removing the arduous, menial tasks and delegating them to robots, human employees may see many positive impacts through this automation.
The positive effects of automation for employees
The positive effects of automation on employees are numerous. If you’re new to the topic, here are the top seven identified by our team.
1. Enhanced safety measures
Safety is a hot topic in a warehouse. When you have mountains of inventory piled high, blades cutting cardboard boxes and heavy machinery, injuries are bound to happen. Tedious tasks that often take a long time can lead to fatigued employees. Workplace tiredness from monotonous tasks can also jeopardise safety and can be subject to human error.
Automation through robots can minimise health and safety problems. They can take over tedious and dangerous duties when it comes to managing inventory stock and leave the employees to do more high-level activities. Human error is reduced and safety is improved throughout the warehouse.
2. Harness employee’s critical thinking
A human workforce has notable attributes that robots simply don’t have. The human brain isn’t stimulated doing mundane, often boring tasks such as doing a stocktake.
Rather, people are motivated when they have a sense of purpose, freedom and stimulation through problem-solving. It’s advantageous to the employer (and employee) to have their staff doing something that requires skills and brainpower. Taping up boxes for shipments is important, but it doesn’t really require that much thought.
If people feel needed and have a sense of purpose, their motivation is likely to increase. Let robots do menial tasks and pass on the critical thinking jobs to your employees. Upskill them and allow them to grow into more fulfilling and challenging roles, while the robots manage the busy work on the ground.
3. Management of robots
When robots enter a workplace, they aren’t going to manage themselves. Robots can actually encourage your employees to upskill into roles that involve responsibility and management.
Robot’s technical systems require people who know how they work and how to manage their emergence into new automated processes. Employees can also use critical thinking to see if there are any other applicable pathways for their usefulness in the warehouse.
You might find once you’ve put automation in place, employees will grow to become more engaged in the success of the business because they’ll have taken on bigger roles; their motivation and understanding will evolve. Employee workplace satisfaction has been seen to rise in these scenarios, even when there was initial resistance to robots. Looking at the business through a new lens will allow employees to increase their productivity up and feel a sense of accomplishment.
4. Reliable processes and risk mitigation
No matter how diligent or conscientious an employee, human data entry will inevitably have the ‘human error factor’ creep in, negatively impacting a company’s key data.
Mis-entered data has the ability to snowball errors. Consequences could lead to heavy fines if not in line with any legislation requirements, and hours lost in corrective measures.
With an automated solution, the entire process is automated, containing error frequency while addressing any minute requirement, streamlining tasks.
5. Higher output
While automation has the potential to replace jobs, it also has the potential to create higher profits, allowing businesses to grow.
Take for example the rise of ATMs may have decreased bank teller employment, but because ATMs made it cheaper to operate each branch, the number of branches increased.
In turn, bank teller employment overall increased because of the ability to serve more customers during more hours at a lower cost.
6. Ability to focus on other areas of work
Another benefit of automation is that it allows employees to focus on the jobs that require critical thinking and free them from busywork. Automation also has the ability to eliminate the horribly boring tasks.
For example, applying hundreds of labels a day gets old quickly and requires minimal skill. The same goes for exchanging a long chain of emails to try and coordinate a meeting time — not to mention time-consuming.
Automating systems saves time, money, and is likely to increase worker morale as well.
7. Higher employee satisfaction
Productivity and profits have a clear link.
So, it makes sense to automate aspects of your business that allows your employees to have a higher sense of value and be more productive.
Employee satisfaction goes up when the repetitive and mundane is taken care of, leading to more enjoyable jobs and lower employee turnover.
Work automation often involves using technology to automate repetitive, manual processes. As well as streamlining workflow, keeping track of each part of a process and helping to increase overall productivity, automation can free people up to concentrate on more knowledge-based tasks, allowing them to use their skills in a more strategic way.
These benefits of automation together impact positively on your bottom line.