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#FutureOfWork: What Business Transformation Means to You and Your Employees

Employees are anxious about business transformation. But do they need to be? 

Key Points:

  • Automation will redefine traditional business roles.
  • Employees fear losing their jobs to technology.
  • Technology isn’t eliminating jobs, it’s changing them.
  • HR will help employees succeed in the digital era.

Ten years ago, McKinsey and Company introduced the phrase “the new normal” to describe the business landscape after the 2008 recession. Businesses reeling from the global financial crisis struggled to find their place amid a fundamental “restructuring of the economic order.” 

We once again face the reality of a “new normal.”

Accenture and the World Economic Forum found that 87% of survey respondents feel that new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) improve their work experience and are prepared to spend personal time learning new skills to supplement those they already have. 

In a report from 2017, McKinsey similarly found that “in about 60% of occupations, at least one-third of the constituent activities could be automated, implying substantial workplace transformations and changes for all workers” are on their way.

This means that nearly 375 million workers worldwide will likely need to learn new skills (and possibly switch careers) because one-third of their work activities can be automated. 

If this sounds like a contradiction, that’s because it is: employees see technology as a tool to improve their work experience while they face the possibility of losing their jobs because of it.

Employee fears. 

Our technology-driven world is filled with promise, but it also presents a challenge to workers. 

Edelman’s 2019 Trust Barometer underscores the anxiety employees feel from the impact of workplace technology, precisely their worries around jobs lost to automation. According to the report, 55% of employees worry that automation and other innovations will make their jobs obsolete. 

Automation won’t eliminate jobs. It will change work as we know it today. 

Technology creates new jobs that require different skills. The term “hybrid jobs” perfectly illustrates the kind of retooling necessary for this digital era. The rapid expansion of new technology changes the character of jobs by integrating an element of tech into traditionally non-technical positions. 

A growing reliance on big data and the Internet of Things fuels the worldwide demand for these roles. As technology and business become increasingly intertwined, the need for professionals to use technology in ways that create value and insights for the company expands.

“In business, it seems that talk of the imminent dominance of AI is inescapable. Yes, it is beginning to transform the way organizations operate in substantial ways, but there is one thing AI cannot do: be human.” – Steven ZoBell, contributor, Forbes

An opportunity for personal and professional growth.

Technology redefines jobs, but it doesn’t automatically replace them. As Manpower Group explains, “more employers than ever before (87%) will either increase or maintain their workforce numbers this year because of automation.” In the workplace, technology actually allows employees to be more human.

AI is serendipity. It is here to liberate us from routine jobs and it is here to remind us what it is that makes us human.” – Kai-Fu Lee, Sinovation Ventures 

Our cognitive skills, creativity, and ability to process high-level information are uniquely human traits that can’t be replicated by machines. Technology gives employees a reason to focus on improving these soft skills and this can lead to increased productivity and personal growth. 

Menial and repetitive tasks can be offloaded to digital tools, leaving workers available for higher-level work – the kind of work that needs a human touch. 

HR’s role in the future of work. 

“Catalysing positive outcomes and a future of good work for all will require bold leadership and an entrepreneurial spirit from businesses and governments, as well as an agile mindset of lifelong learning from employees.”—World Economic Forum 

HR keeps people at the forefront of a company, not despite, but because of, technology. Technology allows HR professionals to move beyond transactional, administrative tasks. One could even argue that technological advances like HR software enable HR professionals to focus more on overarching business goals by freeing them from mundane tasks in order to support employees and impact company culture.

In fact, today’s HR department has a significant impact on employee experience and the future of work because they are responsible for engaging, empowering, and supporting employees along every step of the workplace journey. This includes helping employees develop the necessary skills to thrive in this era of digital disruption. 

Bring your HR department into the digital age. Get in touch for a demo of SentricHR