It’s important to remember that we’re far from the demise of the human worker
Half of New Zealand workers have already seen their jobs change as a result of automation, according to Hays.
In an online poll of 410 people in New Zealand conducted by the recruiter, 16 per cent said automation has already impacted their job ‘significantly’, with their duties changing or their role becoming redundant.
Another 34 per cent said their job has been impacted ‘partially’, with some tasks automated and non-routine duties increasing.
The rest - 50 per cent of respondents - say automation has had no impact so far on their daily jobs.
“There’s no denying that robots will continue to join workplaces across the country, with professionals able to benefit if they take the appropriate action now,” says Adam Shapley, managing director of Hays in New Zealand.
But he points out, “It’s important to remember, though, that we’re far from the demise of the human worker.”
“When we look back at the four industrial revolutions, each has created more jobs than those that have been eliminated – it’s just that these new jobs require people who are more highly skilled and who can perform more higher value job responsibilities,” he says.
“So with automation and AI taking over the routine, repetitive aspects of jobs, employers need to help their staff upskill so they can perform more higher strategic value job tasks.
Open communication is key, he says.
Peer-to-peer learning is a new trend
“Talk to staff about how AI and automation can be used to perform the repetitive, menial aspects of their role, freeing up their time to focus on higher-value job responsibilities.”
He says there are plenty of free opportunities organisations with limited training and development budgets can tap, such as:
- Providing stretch opportunities at work
One of the best is inviting staff to work on a project or task outside their usual remit in order to develop new competencies, says Shapley.
“This could be with people from their current team or other teams, with a senior team leader willing to coach the employee throughout the project. Crucially, this strategy also allows staff to hone important collaboration and problem-solving skills.”
Organisations must equip up-and-coming generations for the future while they bring current workers up to speed to address workforce needs
He advises making sure employers think through how working on a stretch project will impact an employee’s current workload.
- Staying plugged in
Shapley calls on employers to encourage staff to industry leaders and thinkers via LinkedIn, TED Talks, YouTube feeds, Twitter and other social media, and subscribe to relevant industry publications. Look out for relevant conferences, seminars and webinars that your staff could attend, he adds.
- Providing coaching and mentors
Provided you have appropriate mentors within your organisation, who are not only experienced but who have the ability and capacity to share knowledge and work with a colleague, establishing a coaching or mentoring program in your organisation has many benefits – for both sides, he says.
For example, coaching and mentorships can impart new knowledge to an employee while also ensuring an organisation retains corporate insights and passes this insight on to other employees. This is particularly useful when considering how to share the knowledge of staff with unique technical knowledge or valuable insights.
But, he notes, If you are going to implement a coaching or mentorship program in your organisation, make sure you give staff the time to make it happen.
- Joining an industry or professional association
Membership of a professional association or industry groups can tick a lot of the boxes for upskilling, says Shapley. Before signing staff up to an association, ask about its continuous learning program as well as networking events and even mentorship programs.
- Taking relevant courses outside of the workplace
There are a plethora of online tutorials that explain how to use technology and software applications. These are great for upskilling in specific new technology your organisation may be investing in, says Shapley.
Another option are ‘Moocs’ or Mass Open Online Courses. Moocs allow people to study for free with some of the leading education institutions in the world. Some of the top tech companies also offer courses. While staff probably won’t end up with a formal qualification, they will acquire the latest information impacting your sector, says Shapley.
- Learning at work
“Peer-to-peer learning is a new trend,” says Shapley.
You can create an environment that empowers employees to ask one of their colleagues to teach them a skill they want to acquire, he says.
"Or you could set up a study group. Peer-group learning sessions allow employees to learn from each other and explore relevant issues together, which can boost the learning process.
"You could also arrange learning sessions where a senior member of staff imparts knowledge or an industry leader is invited in to give a lunchtime talk."
At the same time, Shapley stresses the personal responsibility of employees on ensuring their readiness in tackling workplace changes ahead.
“Even if you are one of the 50 per cent of skilled professionals whose job has not yet been impacted by automation, it’s essential you don’t rest on your laurels, he says. “The automation of routine and repetitive job tasks is inevitable.”
The future of work is humans and machines, instead of humans versus machines
Start by considering what your job would look like if all the routine and repetitive duties you perform were automated, he says.
Then, determine how you could fill the time freed up by the automation of these tasks in a way that adds greater strategic value to your employer.
“Next, start to upskill in the higher-value areas you’ve identified so that you’ll be ready for the automation of your lower-value, repetitive tasks.
“But don’t just sit back and wait for automation to knock on your door,” he states.
“Be proactive and embrace change by exploring relevant automation tools and their practical application for your role. Set up a meeting with your boss to discuss these new tools and how they could be of use in your role. Then present your plan for how you can focus your time on higher-value tasks if your routine and repetitive job responsibilities were automated.
“Remember, constant upskilling is the key to remaining relevant and employable when lower-value tasks are automated.”
Peering into the future workspace
Bridging the digital talent gap is one of the topics tackled in the latest IDC FutureScape report on education trends for 2019.
“The future workspace will be a mix of physical and virtual,” it states.
According to IDC, “Work culture will be more collaborative, while the workforce will be a combination of people and machines working together. But until that vision materialises, the demand for digital talent will outpace the supply, and trends to limit the free flow of workers will localise the problem. Platform providers are under pressure to address the talent crunch with new productivity environments such as low-code/no code.”
Fundamental changes in the workplace are driven by the rise of millennials and technology advances.
“The future of work is humans and machines, instead of humans versus machines. This impacts organisations' culture, required skills, talent sourcing, workspace, and the nature and makeup of the workforce itself.”
“Organisations must equip up-and-coming generations for the future while they bring current workers up to speed to address workforce needs.”
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