The future of work is changing quickly before our eyes. Many organizations are looking to technology, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), to gain a competitive advantage. Employees and leaders have a lot of fear around what might happen regarding the future of work. The questions I get about this often is:
- Are AI systems going to take over all the jobs? The quick answer is, No!
- Will it impact many jobs? The answer is, Yes!
Think about AI as taking over certain tasks within job roles, such as researching case law for precedence in a pending lawsuit, creating profit and loss statements, or performing rote tasks that have established processes. All of these can be done better, faster, and more efficiently by technology than a human. In the example of researching case law, a human conducting research to prepare for a lawsuit will take an average of weeks, whereas AI can conduct the research in hours as it pulls from its vast database. Our focus should be on rehumanizing work.
Let’s explore the impacts of this transition on skill set and roles. Identifying and recognizing impacts to employee’s skills and roles will be key during these transitions. If you are leading or supporting these transitions, you will need to be able to articulate the potential impacts with organizations and teams. Where is the transition point of machine to human? What skills or tasks are no longer needed for a human to do? I believe our skill sets will be fluid during this time, and the bar will continually be raised as we build more and more machine capabilities. According to a report published by Harvard Business Review,
Redeployment and reskilling of existing workers is a massive challenge that societies must confront. Today, for example, America spends huge amounts educating kids but spends very little re-educating adults.
With this technology wave (some refer to it as the 4th Industrial Revolution), there is also a new opportunity to partner with all areas of the business. Our investment in our employee’s development will be a competitive advantage. I don’t have the answers, but I think we have a great opportunity to rethink how we enhance our future workforce. There are many ways we can evolve all of our organizations to better fit the new reality coming our way.
Those departments that support talent will be enhanced with predictive analytics solutions. Leaders and talent support organizations (talent development, organizational development, and human resources) will be able to collect, analyze and run dashboards of information on the various knowledge, skills and abilities within the organization. This will allow for better decision making and planning for the future. We will be able to better forecast what will be needed to fill the gaps within the current talent pool.
According to the LinkedIn 2019 Workplace Learning Report, “2019 is the breakout year for talent development. Executives are increasingly looking to talent developers to support the business in strategic workforce planning, including attracting and retaining talent, and ensuring their people have the right skills for today and tomorrow.”2
6 Steps to Enhance Talent
We are being asked for workforce planning and strategies to deal with these changes. Here are six steps to enhance your talent within your organization:
- Know what roles will be impacted
- Understand what knowledge, skills and experiences each impacted employee brings to the organization
- Provide personalized pathways for employees to build upon this foundation
- Find ways to grow and expand your employees’ viewpoint
- Pair employees with senior leaders who can provide different perspectives and exposure to different parts of the business
- Partner with HR & leaders to understand where employees want to take their careers
We can advise our organizations to start small and test specific processes that are ideal for automation. We all have opportunities within our organizations to create a better customer experience or to improve the backend processes. The key is to focus on outcomes. How will the customer or stakeholder experience be enhanced by automating this process or procedure?
Alternatively, think about areas that could be automated with AI or bots that could capture important customer data to better reveal insights about them. Those teams who have already started down this path are beginning to see employee engagement surge as they perform more meaningful work.
This the is power, if done right.
This article was published in the LTEN Focus on Training magazine Winter 2019 issue.
Putting Artificial Intelligence to Work, Report From HBR Live Event Series (Harvard Business Review, 2018)
3rd Annual 2019 Workplace Learning Report, Report from LinkedIn Learning. (LinkedIn Learning 2019)