By Wayne Rawcliffe, Ed.D., MBA, CPHR
In short, probably not. But it’s a fact that increased automation is going to change the nature of work in the future – according to McKinsey and Co, 60 percent of all jobs have a minimum of 30 percent of their activities that are automatable.
Cognitive systems – technologies that use machine learning – are rapidly emerging, but they’re not going to eliminate jobs. It’s simply that the nature of jobs will change if significant parts of them can be automated. In the future, jobs will be designed for a workforce where people, artificial intelligence (AI) and robots work side by side, with AI and robots being every bit as much of the workforce as people.
While many employees and managers feel threatened by this, there’s a huge advantage: The fundamentally human skills that are often subsumed within job tasks are becoming more important. Oxford University has identified empathy, communication, persuasion, personal service, problem solving, and strategic decision making as essential human skills that are increasing in importance. Now, less than five percent of an employee’s time is spent on creativity. Automation should increase the amount of time employees are able to spend on creative elements of their work. Managers need to think about which job activities can be outsourced to an augmented workforce, automated, and what is the role of the required human skills. They also need to consider issues such as, for example, whether existing benefit plans are relevant if a large segment of work is done by an augmented workforce. Hiw ready are managers for the change? In a Deloitte survey, only 17 percent of global executives felt that they were ready to manage this kind of integrated workforce.
In the short term, human resources is a key area to focus on. It needs to be reinvented in order to manage skill disruption from disruptive technologies that destroy or form markets. It’s also important to use human data analytics to make real time, day-to-day decisions for workforce planning. Finally, rigid working arrangements need to be modified so they’re relevant for an integrated talent force, since in the future, human resources won’t be for humans alone.
Dr. Rawcliffe is President of Senga Learning and Development Inc. and President of Senga Consulting Inc.