The Great Resignation is Here to Stay: Make Sure Your AP is Ready

“Nearly 4.3 million people quit their jobs in January 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s JOLTS report issued Wednesday. That level is near a record set in November,” announced a CNBC article. In other words, the so-called “Great Resignation” has no intention of slowing down. Other countries worldwide are experiencing the same type of event with research by recruitment firm Randstad finding that almost a quarter (24%) of employees plan to move jobs within the next six months.

The Great Resignation is not Resigning

When “the Great Resignation” started to become a trending phrase in 2021, a lot of companies thought that it was a temporary shift - a sort of reaction from a bored workforce fed up with the monotony that the pandemic annoyingly bestowed on our lives. But new research is proving otherwise.

Many in the workforce (notably millennials who make up the vast majority of the workforce itself) are still actively looking for new jobs and leaving their current companies. According to a recent survey by Microsoft, 52% of young people polled, namely Gen Z and Millennials workers, said they were likely to consider changing employers this year. That’s up 3% from last year. In other words, the Great Resignation is far from over. There are a few reasons why the workforce has decided to kick their old jobs to the curb and pursue other opportunities:

  • Pandemic fears: For a while, employees were frozen with fear by the pandemic and the fact that they weren’t sure they would have a job throughout it. But that’s not the case anymore.

  • Ready for a change: Workers are experiencing a desire to spread their wings, try new things, and mix things up

  • Their old company wasn’t up to snuff: During the pandemic, companies either thrived by enabling remote work or they buckled under the weight and had to lay-off or furlough employees

We are living in what labor economist Lawrence Katz calls “a once-in-a-generation ‘take this job and shove it’ moment” – which gives workers a once-in-a-generation upper hand. Companies are now realising that it’s time to reevaluate their organisations and make necessary changes to not only retain valuable employees but also make themselves as appealing as possible for those looking for new positions. So, what’s the best way forward? Flexibility enabled by digital processes and automated technologies.

Digital-first is the only way forward

During the pandemic, those businesses that had a digital-first approach to their business processes were able to easily transition their employees to safe remote working while keeping business running as usual. Limited disruption meant continuous cash flow. But those that didn’t found themselves in a sticky situation, scrambling to quickly figure out how to keep their businesses moving and how to get their employees up and running at home. Many failed. And those that did are quickly realising that if they had had digital processes established already, many of the issues they faced wouldn’t have been an issue.

With a digital-first mindset, businesses can kick their on-premise solutions to the curb and replace it with cloud-based technologies which offer flexibility for where employees work. The best vendors of these technologies should be incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to make many of your processes not only partially automated, but totally hands-off.

Accounts Payable (AP) – the prime digital candidate

Take Accounts Payable for example. A traditionally manual, hands-on, and heavily time-consuming part of the business function, without digitisation, your firm is left at great risk. Because of this, the argument in favor of automating accounts payable (AP) operations, now more than ever, is impossible to ignore.

Businesses that have already automated their AP processes will quickly come to realise that all the parts of the process can be seamlessly handled from home (or wherever you are). And aside from the huge benefit of enabling remote work and therefore business continuity, AP automation also speeds up processing, eliminates manual errors, increases data accuracy, and makes the entire invoicing process touchless.

AP automation enables AP teams and to effectively carry out invoice processing responsibilities without having to be physically in the office.  There are other cases to consider when it comes to kicking off an automation project:

  • Senior employees may be looking to retire, and with them their approach to automation will, too.

  • New employees filling more senior roles are expecting and requiring automation and are equipped to work on a higher-tech level

  • AP is traditionally heavily manual, so is a clear place to start your automated journey

Automated AP in practice

Home office, couch, back porch, or beachside in a lounge chair – irrespective of where your employees are working from AP automation provides all the tools needed to process an invoice from start to finish, regardless of where you are. So how will AP and invoice processing work from your home office? Like this.

From invoice receipt - Invoices are received electronically or converted from paper to electronic. Electronic invoicing covers methods such as B2B/EDI connections, PDF invoicing, or receipt via a supplier portal where data flows electronically. Paper invoices are scanned and processed using artificial intelligence or OCR to extract and store the data in the cloud.

To matching and workflows - Once the data has been captured, invoices are either matched to purchase orders and goods receipts, or they are automatically routed to the relevant team or teammate for review and approval. Once approved, they are automatically sent to the ERP or accounting system for payment.

And through to archiving and audits - All Invoices are securely archived, and audit trails of all actions taken on invoices are easily available for financial audit purposes. Electronic archival of invoices also makes it easy to search for and find invoices anytime from anywhere.

Each step of the payables process can be comfortably performed from anywhere that has an internet connection and access to a Web browser. This means business keeps flowing and suppliers get paid regardless of where your employees are physically located.

All this is to say that times are changing. Employees are looking for roles that don’t require them to be in the office every day of the week, 9 to 5. They’re wanting opportunities to use their skills beyond paper pushing and number crunching. They want to contribute in a meaningful way and automating a process such as accounts payable gives them the opportunity to do so.

With that process automated, different roles become available and new ones created that better align with the talents of the millennial generation as well as the up-and-coming Gen Z who are making their ways into the workforce. So, to do right by both your employees and the health of your business, our advice automate where you can and digitise as much as possible.

Download our free on-demand webinar


What the Future AP Department Looks Like.

Want to learn more on how the Great Resignation has affected Finance and what firms should do to keep up? Watch our free on-demand webinar.