Date posted: 22/05/2017 2 min read

Digitisation and the human touch

How businesses can retain their human element in the rush for digitisation and automation.

In brief

  • Focusing solely on efficiency through automation can negatively impact an organisation's ability to function properly.
  • Employees are feeling increasingly disconnected from their work and their organisation’s purpose.
  • Episode six of the Acuity podcast investigates romance in business with TED speaker Tim Leberecht.

Most businesses invest in sophisticated technology to perform complex tasks.  

However, focusing solely on efficiency through automation can negatively impact an organisation’s ability to function properly. In fact, according to some experts, it may contribute to a dysfunctional workplace culture.  

Employees may become cynical where once they were enthusiastic, frustrated and stressed instead of inspired and happy. Retention of top talent becomes difficult as employees take leave due to work-related stress and anxiety.   

Efficiency may be woven into an organisation’s purpose but may not necessarily transpire into a functional model for success as intrinsic human characteristics become suppressed.  

Company principles need to factor in employee happiness alongside new business tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) and big data. Employee satisfaction should rate just as highly in your long-term goals and strategies as other KPIs.  

Challenge the status quo

It’s important to remember the human element in business when considering what is and isn’t working in the workplace. Don’t have your employees compete with machines. Instead, maximise the human capabilities in your workforce.  

Make way in the boardroom for human characteristics such as empathy, emotions, creativity, imagination and even mystery. These human touches still have a role to play in innovation, a role that machines often cannot perform.  

Allow employees to challenge the status quo and openly discuss ideas to create meaningful experiences. In the pursuit of profit, focus on accountability, productivity and risk minimisation, but don’t forget that kindness, empathy, creativity, imagination and mystery still need to be considered.  

Humans are intuitive and it’s this characteristic that sets us apart from machines. An employee who is using their intuition is also using their intellect. They have already analysed the risks, worked with the processes in place and have experienced periods of high and low productivity.   

Creating a workplace environment where leaders focus on synthesising the human element is important. Utilise big data and automation, but don’t lose the intrinsic human element in the process.

Acuity podcast investigates big data

To learn more about big data and AI, listen to episode six of the Acuity podcast, titled In business… a little romance goes a long way.

In this episode, hosts Mike Lynch and Leigh Sujanto chat to business strategist, author of The Business Romantic and TED speaker Tim Leberecht about how businesses can align their efficiency goals with the ideals of the Romanticism movement of the 18th Century.

Leberecht says if business leaders consider happiness in the workplace as one of their responsibilities as a leader, it will lead to empowerment. It may not be positive for the bottom line, but it will pay dividends in improving workplace culture.

To hear more about implementing a soft skills approach into your organisation to improve the wellbeing of your employees and workplace culture, listen to episode six of the Acuity podcast.

How to find our podcast

The Acuity podcast tackles the latest issues in economics, business and finance and is available to stream and download for free at

Bookmark the Acuity Soundcloud page to keep up to date with new episodes as they are published. Or, you can subscribe to the Acuity podcast in your preferred format to receive new episodes directly via your chosen channel.

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