HR leaders often contend with employee fears of technology, but Brigette McInnis-Day, chief people officer of New York City-based UiPath, argues that technology, especially automation, can help with some of HR’s biggest challenges today.
McInnis-Day spoke with StrategicCHRO360 about reducing burnout, the “Great Restructuring” of the workplace and why it’s important to remember your own team when it comes to employee concerns.
What steps can HR leaders take to ensure they’re reducing burnout in today’s unprecedented labor market?
Employee burnout, recruiting and talent retention are some of the pain points HR leaders are facing in today’s unprecedented labor market. The obvious first steps are making sure your staff has the tools to maintain their mental wellness and social support to communicate across teams within the workplace, as well as equipping people leaders to have these important conversations.
But, while HR managers are doubling down on people management in this new era of work, that sometimes isn’t enough when it comes to solving workflow optimization. Luckily, there are steps leaders can take to tackle burnout and ultimately prevent it.
Implementing technology, such as automation, helps to remove recurring roadblocks and frustrations and can create better employee experiences. This is all about giving back crucial time and resources your employees didn’t have before. When you take away the repetitive processes in an employee’s day-to-day, they will feel more connected and valuable.
What trends are you seeing in your profession today?
We are in the thick of what I call the “Great Restructuring,” which refers to how organizations are navigating the evolving office workplace and changing employee needs. Whether employees are leaving their current organization for another role, or shifting focus in their career path entirely, the competition for talent has completely changed.
Employers are striving for increased productivity to stay afloat in a tight economic market, so employee burnout must be top of mind for people leaders. Businesses need to rethink how they can transform with a team of more productive, and engaged, employees. To do this, employers need to invest in their current workforce, building a culture where employees can feel more secure, satisfied and productive.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to others in your same position as they deal with talent reassessing their employment situation?
From one HR professional to another, I have learned that you must understand your organization and all elements of its business well. Having that insight allows you to build a strategy around prioritization, specifically prioritizing what your company needs in an employee to propel the business forward and help it achieve its goals.
The people function is critical to everything that a company does and it’s up to us to help secure buy-in from the rest of the C-Suite to build a people-first culture. With that in place, we can help drive a business forward and align to business goals by attracting and retaining the right talent. Remember, HR professionals tend to put others first and themselves last. It is important to build a well-being plan for your own teams.
How have you seen new technology influence the hiring process recently?
There are so many technology solutions out there to help with the specific pain points of HR in today’s market. Technological advances like AI, ML and predictive analytics are affecting the future of work and how companies attract and hire talent.
Automation can help our industry thrive by alleviating and simplifying onboarding and putting more time back in the hands of our employees. I’ve found within people operations that using automation to handle the more mundane and repeatable tasks in our work, such as sending, receiving and organizing documents, leaders can focus on value-added tasks and higher priority objectives.
It’s actually quite straightforward. No one on my team built a career in the HR function to do more paperwork, so by using these digital assistants, we can spend more time interacting with people. I expect to see more organizations similarly adopt automation to improve their own workflows. There is a huge opportunity in human resources to automate.