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How Automation Enables More Humane Treatment Of Employees

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How Automation Enables More Humane Treatment Of Employees
May 13, 2016

Automation makes people nervous when it threatens their jobs. What about when those jobs are no fun?

Dan Conery

In my last blog post, I talked about a national franchise business that used software and computers to relieve workers from mind-numbing work. The franchisor implemented predictive technology partly to get results faster, but also to spare intelligent workers the drudgery of manipulating spreadsheets.

By liberating workers from having to crunch numbers manually, they were free to perform higher-value tasks such as looking for trends in sales data and taking care of franchisees. But I would not justify such automation for those reasons alone.

I believe most people, when treated right, are conscientious in their work, striving to do their best. They’re self-motivated.

And people are most motivated when they’re doing work they enjoy.

By contrast, precious few people enjoy entering numbers into spreadsheets all day long, every day, which is what is required when franchisors manage data manually.

Adding value in two places

Mind-numbing work robs people of their desire to contribute. And it invites mistakes.

When you get right down to it, while my language may seem strong, I believe having people perform, menial-mind numbing tasks is cruel!

Of course, on occasion, we all have to roll up our sleeves and do chores we don’t relish. But when it’s only on occasion, and not routine, most people—because we are self-motivated and desire to contribute—will do what’s needed.

We all have parts of our jobs that we don’t enjoy. If you want to create an environment where people can self-motivate, you must minimize the activities people do that are not adding value, whether that value is in your business or their lives.

Small but mighty workforces

Sometimes, you may feel you have no choice but to employ people to do tasks where technology seems to fail you, such as when people have to combine data from software products that don’t talk to one another. Such is a common problem when so many franchisors receive data from franchisees who use different point-of-sale systems, for example.

At AGT, recognize the challenge of different systems, and take pains to program our products so they can accept data from different sources, and present it in an apple-and-apples fashion.

You get better data, faster, and the people who once had to handle incoming data multiple times are liberated to contribute to your organization in ways that enrich their lives—and your business.

Dan Conery is the chief executive officer of AGT Retail North America.

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