Using automation to improve employee experience

Remote and hybrid work can make it harder to express gratitude and recognize individual achievements. Consider this example of how Red Hat is using automation to do just that
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Successful digital transformation hinges on the continuous improvement of people, processes, and technologies. We often treat these three components as independent silos: We’ll mutually exclusively upgrade our technologies, enhance our processes, or improve the work lives of our people.

These are all important and necessary, but what if we linked all three together? What if we could automate our processes to integrate our technologies to enhance the efficiency and satisfaction of our people?

Let me give you an easy example of how we’re doing this at Red Hat.

We all know how the Great Resignation, physical isolation from coworkers, and return-to-office anxieties contribute to what many call the Great Reprioritization. Employees want to make a difference and a visible impact and are re-evaluating their place in the organization and looking for meaning and purpose in their work.

[ Read also: IT talent and the Great Resignation: 8 ways to nurture retention ]

One of the downsides of remote work is that the visibility of their impact often goes unrecognized by their leadership and peers. Even if they are recognized, the recognition may be widely unnoticed, unlike in an office scenario full of coworkers.

Further, leaders express gratitude less often than they should, as noted in a recent HBR study. Higher-level people in organizations express less gratitude because they feel more entitled to favors and benefits based on their elevated standing in the hierarchy.

I’d argue that two additional factors come into play to make the expression of gratitude less frequent: busy-ness and friction. Everyone’s moving very fast given the accelerated operational tempo of the world we now live in, and sometimes expressing gratitude gets relegated to the “later” pile, which may never happen. Also, formal rewards programs may have just enough friction that the intent to express gratitude falls by the wayside and doesn’t even make it to the “later” pile.

Given this problem, how can automation and integration make the expression of gratitude friction-free and highly visible?

[Also read How automation strategy can help you retain IT talent. ]

At Red Hat, we do that with Kudos Bot. Kudos Bot is an internally developed bot that integrates with our chat platform. Reminiscent of karma IRC bots, employees can express gratitude on our chat system by simply @-mentioning the gratitude recipient, @-mentioning Kudos Bot, and adding a brief message of appreciation.

The possibilities to improve the employee experience through automation and integration are endless.

Like IRC bots, Kudos Bot notifies the recipient and publicly increments their karma points. But unlike traditional IRC bots that simply tally karma points, Kudos Bot integrates with our employee rewards system, Reward Zone. Kudos Bot notifies Reward Zone of the expression of gratitude. Reward Zone then emails the recipient, and optionally the recipient’s manager, a printable certificate of appreciation with the sender’s name and message of appreciation. The manager can also use Reward Zone to report how much gratitude each employee has received to help justify raises and promotions.

Anyone at Red Hat can use Kudos Bot to express gratitude to any other employee, no matter where they are in the hierarchy. Employees can express appreciation privately or publicly in a room for all to see. Kudos Bot makes expressing gratitude as easy as possible, enabling leaders to acknowledge employees effortlessly, regularly, and publicly.

[ Read also: Hybrid work: 5 tips for prioritizing the employee experience ]

Kudos Bot is a straightforward example of how Red Hat automates our processes to integrate our technologies and enhances the satisfaction of our people. Specifically, integrating our chat system with our reward system helps leaders and peers quickly and formally express gratitude and provides an objective measure of accomplishments to identify and retain key talent.

The possibilities to improve the employee experience through automation and integration are endless. If you want to pilot something in your organization, poll your employees about what would be the most impactful. Where are they seeing sludge that drags down morale and slows business velocity? You and your IT team can plot each idea on an impact and effort prioritization matrix.

Some suggestions may be easier to implement than you think, as many cloud services are already API-enabled, making automation straightforward. Once your team implements an initial valuable and visible integration, more employee lightbulbs will go off, identifying additional ideas for automation and integration for your prioritization backlog.

And don’t forget about the ROI calculators in your automation tooling, as they will help objectively refine your prioritization by analyzing your planned and actual savings. Not only will your employees benefit directly from the automation, but they will also feel heard when they see their ideas come to life.

[ How can automation free up more staff time for innovation? Get the free eBook: Managing IT with Automation. ]

David Egts
David Egts is MuleSoft's first-ever Public Sector field CTO. He is the executive-level connective tissue between MuleSoft and top public sector decision makers and influencers globally.