The automation myth: Automation replaces good people

image displaying digital components connected and the word automation

From pandemic lockdowns to a great resignation, the working world has been through an unprecedented amount of turbulence in the last couple of years. This has resulted in continuing employee recruitment and retention challenges that threaten the very existence of many small businesses. 

Even in the smallest business, automation is a good way to fill the gaps and reduce the stress on your team. In fact, if you’re using apps like Google Workspace or Hootsuite, you’re already seeing what the power of automation can do for your business.

If the first thing you thought of when you read the word automation was people losing jobs, you’re not alone. However, automation technology can fill in the gaps in your business processes. It can also increase productivity, improve efficiency and elevate—not replace—your employees by giving them a chance to flex and expand their skills.

From stressed out to less stress

Battered by temporary closures and mass resignations, today’s small business owners must know how to pivot and fill in gaps when there simply aren’t enough people to do the work. That’s where automation can step in and help save the day for both owners and employees.

According to workflow automation tool Zapier, 63% of the 2,000 small and medium-sized businesses surveyed for its 2021 State of Business Automation Report say automation enabled their business to respond to worsening conditions during the pandemic—whether that meant moving online to sell their products and services, automating curbside pickup or completely changing their business model.

Even in so-called “normal” times, running a business involves many monotonous tasks. In the Zapier report, 94% of workers said they perform repetitive, time-consuming tasks in their work, which can contribute to low employee job satisfaction if there’s no possibility of satisfying work to do.

Automating repetitive manual tasks like data entry, document creation, lead management, or inventory management and distribution (all automatable tasks) can free employees to take on more productive and fulfilling work. In the same Zapier report, 65% of knowledge workers said they felt less stressed at work because they didn’t have to worry about handling boring manual tasks.

As a bonus, automation also grants business owners the freedom to move away from day-to-day tasks and concentrate on more strategic plans to improve their businesses.

What automation can do for you and your team

As you get your automated functions up and running, start reinvesting your employees’ talents and skills into areas with a higher return on investment. For instance, an employee who does payroll entry may want to expand into other areas of human resources or be interested in marketing or sales.

The gains business owners discover with automation have enabled small businesses everywhere to create efficient, scalable systems and processes that can compete with larger businesses. Even adopting one or two of these automation functions can continue to help your business grow and prosper as life gets back to normal.

Be ready to jump in and start simply. The idea isn’t to automate everything at once; it’s to keep your business growing and your employees professionally fulfilled.

Every business is different, but luckily there are automation options for just about every situation. A possible place to start is this list of the top 10 software apps used in automated workflows, according to the Zapier report:

  1. Google Workspace

  2. Slack

  3. Mailchimp

  4. Trello

  5. Twitter

  6. HubSpot

  7. ActiveCampaign

  8. Facebook Lead Ads

  9. Airtable

  10. Calendly

Let’s take the stigma out of the word automation and make it work for us, rather than the other way around.