By automating essential jobs, organisations will attempt to take advantage of long-term cost and time savings, and productivity efficiencies. Only people able to perform at a higher intellectual level will survive this process. Those that can be easily replaced will return to the job market with obsolete skills and limited opportunities. Whilst some survivors will thrive in the new environment, others will experience fear and uncertainty, and may be left behind.
As jobs are increasingly automated, existing technical and professional skills will become redundant; and the softer skills people once relied upon, to build relationships and communicate, will be challenged and stretched.
Transactional, process driven leadership practices based on instruction, obedience and appraisal will be irrelevant in a highly automated environment. Traditional leadership paradigms will fail to connect with the needs and motivations of those people capable of thriving in the new world.
In fact, as workforces shrink and become more highly dispersed, people will spend less time together in the same physical environment and the role of leadership will be changed forever.
In multi-generational automated workplaces, concepts of job security based on loyalty to one or two organisations over a lifetime will be unrealistic. For Traditionalists and Baby Boomers, automation will see the upheaval of deeply rooted beliefs about security, success and longer term life planning.
In these new intelligent organisations, tried and tested HR practices will no longer be fit for purpose. The employment relationship will be overhauled; typical reward and recognition packages will lose their appeal and traditional talent management practices will fail to meet the needs of the new ‘workforce’.
Every change has a cost, but change also presents an opportunity to invest in a new future - and one that our newer generations are more than equipped for. Yet, as people live and work for longer, all generations have a vested interest in a more dynamic and versatile organisation.
Organisations and individuals alike will have numerous and diverse connections made accessible through comprehensive virtual networks.
Tammy Erickson, a leading expert on the changing workforce, speaking at the 2017 HRD Summit in February said,
“firms of the future will have small numbers of employees and large numbers of people with whom they build relationships.”
While automation will result in smaller permanent workforces, it is probable that technology will bring broad communities of experts closer together in a new employment relationship which is heavily needs based. ‘Employees’ will be contracted to work on specific time scheduled projects and will value choice in the nature and complexity of the work they undertake.
The remaining higher level jobs will be carried out by those with deep specialist knowledge and they will draw upon the specific skills of others as the need arises. General Managers will become Project Managers and are likely to move frequently between initiatives as the business develops.
Engaging with a dispersed, diverse and highly intelligent workforce will require new mental models about leadership. Leaders will need to be able to leverage the discretionary effort of their networks through collaboration and innovation and build relationships that are individualised, inspiring and insightful.
Traditional linear career paths will be replaced by experience portfolios and careers will be punctuated by knowledge development, thought leadership, innovation, interest and choice. Consequently, attracting and retaining talent will be based on how successfully an organisation can continually deliver these opportunities.
In many ways, the more automated the organisation, the greater the need for individuals to possess a higher sense of purpose and meaning. Work conditions that are congruent with an individual’s identity, values, beliefs and motivations will be sought after.
The challenge for future oriented organisations, whether they are pioneers of automation like Adidas, or trend followers, is to predict how a technology driven environment will impact on a workforce that is more diverse than ever before.
Moreover, the organisation will need to determine the most effective and sustainable strategies to ensure business success whilst mitigating negative impacts and preparing people to ride the waves of change.
Ironically, as automation takes over human roles, the role of human resources will be more important than ever. Indeed, effective human relationships will be critical to the success of the automated workplace.
So what can organisations do to prepare for the future? Find out in Part 2 – How to Prepare for Tomorrow’s World – Coming Soon!
1Cave, D. ‘Firm Swaps 90% Of Human Staff For Robots & Sees 250% productivity rise’, HR Grapevine, 6 February 2017
2Erickson, T, ‘Building Intelligent Organisations’, HRD Summit Keynote Speech, 1 February 2017
Notion is a global expert in behaviour change. For more information about how we can help your organisation to start creating a ‘future smart’ organisational culture, click on button below or call us for an informal chat on +44 (0)1926 889 885.
Find Out More