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Survey: Business Leaders are Expanding Automation Usage to Combat the Global Labor Shortage


Business leaders have flocked to automation tools in recent years to empower their workforces to work smarter, not harder, and foster both better employee experiences and greater organizational output. Now, as employers around the globe work to offset labor shortage challenges in what’s being touted as the Great Resignation (also called the “Great Migration”), companies are doubling down on their automation investments to not only sustain operations, but also maintain their workforce while attracting new talent in the long term.

To understand organizations’ investments in automation to attract and retain talent amid the Great Resignation, UiPath surveyed 500 United States (U.S.) business executives in C-level and senior management roles at companies with more than 1,000 employees in December 2021. Their responses underscore how integral business leaders consider automation technology in supporting their teams and larger company operations against pandemic-induced pressures. Here’s what we learned.

Automation offers critical support to teams with limited bandwidth

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of surveyed executives admitted to struggling with the current labor shortage, with 69% of them losing skilled people to manage necessary tasks. As a solution, 78% of executives said they’re likely to invest or increase their investment in automation or artificial intelligence (AI) tools to manage the impact of higher-than-normal turnover rates.

Many executives are already familiar with automation’s potential. Of those surveyed, 83% said their companies currently invest in and/or use automation or AI tools. Now, executives are applying the technology’s benefits to help offset the challenges of ongoing labor shortages. Specifically, surveyed executives believe automation is helping their companies perform better by saving time (71%), improving productivity (63%), and saving money (59%). The benefits are enabling their organizations to uphold the status quo of production even while temporarily short staffed.

Meanwhile, executives can leverage automation software to assist with hiring itself. Fifty-eight percent of surveyed executives cited higher rates of onboarding and offboarding as one of the top challenges their companies are experiencing in response to labor shortages. And they named disrupted workflows as a result of those challenges. But automation can support human resources (HR) operations as well. The efficiency automation affords users can expedite back-office HR processes so that HR professionals can spend more time communicating with employees. A total of 86% of executives surveyed believe automation will enable their employees to focus on more creative work and spend less time on mundane, repetitive, time-consuming tasks.

Offering automation training gives employers a competitive edge

In addition to labor shortages, 74% of surveyed executives admitted to struggling to attract new talent to take on necessary tasks. Expanding access to automation and offering the accompanying training opportunities can be a major value add to both existing workers and prospects. In fact, 85% believe automation will help them retain employees and hire new talent amid the Great Resignation.

Offering automation tools and training can significantly differentiate employers in today’s competitive job market, starting by keeping workers with their current organizations to stopgap further labor shortages.

One in three surveyed executives cited lack of skills training as another reason why people leave their jobs. Likewise, most executives surveyed felt that employee job performance—and therefore job retention—can be improved through:

These findings coincide with findings from a previous UiPath study of global office workers in which 91% of respondents believed their employers should be more willing to invest in digital and technology training skills for their employees to be successful in the future of work.

Despite workers’ overwhelming desire for digital skills training, only 51% of organizations currently offer automation training, according to our December 2021 survey. Of these, 63% percent offer on-the-job training of automation skills during work hours. And 29% train outside of work but costs are subsidized by the company.

These organizations have the upper hand in today’s job market. When considering their next career move, workers are often inclined to choose the organization that will evolve their skillsets, thereby offering them greater career opportunities. Better yet if workers can grow under their current employer’s guidance.

By reinforcing their investments in automation and offering employees training opportunities to maximize the technology’s potential, employers can more effectively combat current labor shortages and prepare their employees for the future of work. For employers interested in training their teams on automation, check out UiPath Academy.

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