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Automation is key to improving employee experience

The employee experience has changed dramatically in the first six months of 2020 with more people working from home and, in some cases, hours being reduced or employees being stood down. This has created a culture of uncertainty for organisations and employees alike but the employee experience remains crucial for organisations looking to attract and retain the best talent. With most organisations experiencing significant change, the perks that made employees happy in the past may no longer be possible, or even desirable. Therefore, organisations need to look at small improvements outside the traditional norms, such as expense automation, to improve employee morale.

Matt Goss, managing director, ANZ, SAP Concur, said, “Remote work will likely be the default mode for the foreseeable future, so companies must act now to create systems that suit a remote environment. This includes embracing cloud-based solutions that are accessible from anywhere, facilitating mobile productivity, and adopting automation to reduce the manual labour required for repetitive processes. Doing so will help boost employee engagement and productivity by removing tedious, unfulfilling tasks from employees’ to-do lists.”

SAP Concur has recently released its Finance in the New World of Work report, which revealed that over 50 per cent of employees in Australia and New Zealand are less than satisfied with their expense processes and the effort required to manage expense claims. The report stated that, on average, managers in Australia spend 4.8 hours a month reviewing and approving expense claims, while their New Zealand counterparts spend, on average, 6.9 hours a month. The report also found that 60 per cent of Australians and 51 per cent of New Zealanders felt a strong connection between job satisfaction and finance and administration processes.(1)

This demonstrates the correlation between employee experience and satisfaction; however, most organisations don’t currently offer the automation capabilities required to deliver an employee experience that leads to satisfaction.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has been able to measurably improve employee satisfaction by automating expense processes. After asking employees what frustrations they faced, 64 issues were raised that related to finance and administration burdens. BOM determined that these issues could be resolved through expense automation. By adopting an automated expense system, the organisation eliminated more than 60 different manual forms, as well as reduced its travel approval process from nine steps to just four. Where it would take a week to have expenditure approved, it now takes just a few minutes. Overall, this change reduced complicated and time-consuming processes for employees, letting them focus on more value-adding, core business activities.

Rose Pavlic, finance process improvement manager, Bureau of Meteorology said, “The bureau was actually in a space where staff were calling out for improvements in the finance and administration space. The elimination of manual forms, the bane of all staff at the bureau, has been one of the major benefits derived. This technology is the way to go if you want your business to move to a transparent, compliant world.”

Matt Goss said, “Now more than ever, organisations must make their systems conducive for remote work. This means digitising manual processes, reviewing expense policies and improving collaboration. Automation is a key part of that. It can help employees be more productive, comply with spend policies more readily, and free them up to focus on the work they enjoy and find fulfilling instead of filling in forms and chasing down paper-based receipts.”

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