The Future of Work
A technological revolution is underway as the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres start to blur. We are on the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, altering the way we live, work and relate to one another. As new technological innovations emerge, millions of workers and companies around the world are dealing with the reality of a different workplace.
The modernization of the workplace is more than the use of artificial intelligence and cognitive technologies to increase efficiency and productivity. The workforce and the culture of our workplaces are also drivers of change affecting how organizations work. Workforce modernization is an ongoing process that changes the way people do things and without serious consideration for how IT will modernize their workforce, it can disrupt your organization in a severe way.
Jobs of the Future
According to The Future of Jobs 2018 report by the World Economic Forum, “ubiquitous high-speed mobile internet; artificial intelligence; widespread adoption of big data analytics; and cloud technology” will drive business growth during the 2018-2022 period. We know that technology has already begun to change the landscape of how we complete and organize tasks, and now the vast majority of employers surveyed expect that the skills required to perform most job will significantly change by 2022. More than 25 percent expect automation to create new roles in their organization, and 38 percent expect to extend their workforce to new productivity-enhancing roles.
The division of labor between people and machines will continue to shift toward machines, especially for repetitive tasks. Estimates indicate that 75 million jobs may be displaced, but 133 million new roles may emerge which include more soft skills such as creativity, problem-solving, communication and design. Essentially, as more repetitive tasks become automated, more roles will marry technology and human skills to get work done.
Examples of new roles include:
- AI and machine learning
- Digital transformation
- Digital marketing and strategy
- E-commerce and social media
- Training and development
- Client information and customer service
- Process automation
Companies are also set to expand their use of contractors to complete specialized tasks, including remote staffing options beyond physical office spaces. All of this entails reimagining the concept of work and developing a workforce to take on these new roles.
Preparing the Future Workforce
It’s up to organizational leaders to make sure employees know that change is going to happen. It’s also important that workers are prepared for said change and the next group of leaders are ready for tomorrow’s global market.
New technologies can drive business growth but also create a skills gap amongst workers and leadership. In the 2018 World Economic Forum report, employers said re-skilling and upskilling employees so they enter high-value roles will be a priority. More than half of organizations surveyed – at 54 percent – intend to target employees in key roles and frontline positions to use relevant new technologies.
The reality is that the way organizations are led today will be different than leading companies of the future. Modernizing IT infrastructure and retraining workers are not mutually exclusive and should not be seen as separate strategies. Organizations will need a comprehensive ‘augmentation strategy’ to enable employees to reach their full potential. That includes looking beyond cost savings and getting buy-in from a motivated workforce who will focus more on developing critical thinking, emotional intelligence, leadership and social influence through upskilling.
There are several ways to address shifting skills, including:
- Hiring freelancers
- Retraining existing employees
- Hiring new permanent staff
- Outsourcing business functions
Creating a positive culture, maintaining a purpose and reinforcing your brand will help retain employees and keep your organization competitive. The decisions you make on how to invest in your workforce and the time spent planning for the future will play a key role in how your organization survives.
Recruiting New Talent
Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2010) is now entering the workforce and are bringing a new set of behaviors and expectations to the workplace. They are the first group of workers to completely grow up with the Internet, where social communication started at an early age. Due to their hyperconnected upbringing that has been shaped by technology, employers should expect the next generation of workers to come into an organization more competent than employees from previous generations. Our idea of entry-level tasks will change.
As more tasks become automated with technologies like robotic process automation (RPA), employees will develop a different set of skills compared to those necessary in past generations. According to a LinkedIn survey, 76 percent of Gen Z professionals believe skills are changing, and 59 percent don’t feel their job will exist in the same way 20 years from now.
Gen Z professionals also prefer human interaction, positive work relationships and healthy work environments. It helps creates work-life balance and are vital for professional development that influences decision making. In the end, building these interactions becomes vital to employee retention. This is why recruitment efforts must include a modern workplace as a selling point.
If the next generation of workers know they will be instrumental in increasing the value and capacity of the organization through meaningful work, you’ll attract more talent. It will be a newer generation of talent responsible for modernizing your technology and services.
The distribution of tasks, skills and emerging roles will vary by industry, but the way we look at work, and how we work, will change. It’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when.’ We are experiencing another industrial revolution and this change will be felt across markets in business and government. Planning a long-term workforce strategy and investing in human capital will be critical for growth and longevity.