Mitigating the quiet quitting trend
In the age of mass unionization, unions fought for precise delineation of a worker’s job role. And they fought for decent remuneration for that role. The combination of the two meant that if someone was asked to take on additional work, or was not rewarded for doing so, they had the option to Work To Rule – to do only the minimum required of them, until the situation was resolved. Quiet quitting is the unofficial Gen Z version – doing the minimum, without union support, in response to dull work, low pay, or unfavorable conditions.
UiPath is an automation company that has recently done some research into quiet quitting.
We sat down with Mark Gibbs, President – EMEA at UiPath, to find out what can be done to tackle quiet quitting and re-engage the Generation Z workforce through automation. In Part 1 of this article, Mark explained that with the right automation, people could rediscover their creativity in any role. Next, we asked him to explain why that would help deal with the consequences of quiet quitting – including mental health issues among staff, and the gradual desertion of companies, particularly by Gen Z staff.
The vital difference
We’ve said that the right automations can elevate any human role beyond just being a workhorse. Why is that vital to the future of work?
Take the role of a nurse. Obviously, that’s a primary role, and the reason people become nurses is not so they can spend hours and hours every day extracting data, finding patient records, preparing them, updating them, moving them, and making sure there’s no error. Automation can do that so much more efficiently, allowing the nurse to have a much more fulfilling day spent engaging with patients. That means the patients get more and better nursing, and the nurse feels… more like a nurse, and so much more fulfilled, using the skills they’ve got, without getting bogged down in the admin. That extends to all roles in all industries. Helping people do what they’re best at and what makes them unique by reducing the admin and the tedious work, can only deliver a better result for everyone – staff, companies, and the overall work culture.
That’s the age-old refrain, isn’t it? From nurses to police officers to the military – what we could do if it weren’t for all the paperwork…
Exactly, yes. The thing is, that paperwork is so important. It’s got to be done efficiently, it’s got to be done accurately, and it’s got to be kept up to date, meeting legal standards. All of that is difficult to do on a sustained basis – and to get it right, it’s going to impinge on all the skills-based work that makes the job feel worthwhile to the people doing the job. Automation can make a real contribution to that.
The mental health benefits
One of the statistics in the survey that UiPath did said that a whole 50% of UK workers have experienced mental health problems in the last three years. Is that down to the pandemic and the post-pandemic economic factors specifically, or is it an evolution of the way that people are working?
It’s difficult to be too specific about what the actual root cause was in all of those cases, but I think it’s a combination. Clearly the pandemic and the isolation and the stress was a big factor, and clearly this geopolitical and economic situation is another factor. And then being in a workplace, doing something day in and day out, hour after hour after hour where it’s not really fulfilling or meaningful work, leads to a depressive state where people are just not happy, they’re not feeling fulfilled, they’re not energized. They feel like they’re on this hamster wheel to nowhere.
With the cost of living, there are so many pressures on employees today, people are effectively standing up, and you can really feel it’s palpable, you can feel the stress that people are under. Modern, forward-looking companies are looking at that, realizing that it’s an issue they really have to tackle. And of course, in the workplace, you can address certain things.
One of the things they can certainly do is look to see how to leverage technology to make a bigger contribution, because if people are fulfilled, they feel they’ve got purpose, and that contributes not only to their own mental health and wellbeing, but also for staff teamwork, engagement, and hopefully the work culture of the company that employs them. By investing in automation, companies show that they value their staff, as well as their staff retention records and their bottom line.
The ticking clock
Given the last three years that people have had, and given that in economic and geopolitical terms, it looks like things are going to get even more challenging for the next two years, is there an imperative on companies to automate at some speed if they’re to keep their staff engaged?
I think there is. There’s still a challenge to attract and retain the right talent out there. Certainly for the knowledge worker side, people do have choices, and I think they are looking at employers that have purpose, that are taking this seriously, and that are leveraging technology not only for the economic benefits that it provides a company, but also from an employee care perspective.
I think there’s a real sense of urgency, because some of our clients are telling us this has become a C-suite level discussion. We’ve seen the introduction of chief automation officers into forward-looking companies that are really thinking about how to leverage automation almost as a first instance, because of what that will mean to how they look after their employees, but also how to look after their customers. People and companies have suddenly realized the power of what automation allows, and the benefits that it brings to customers, employees, companies, and their overall culture of staff retention.
30 November 2023
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