We are living in an era of rapidly evolving technologies. Automation is reshaping the economy and revolutionizing the way we do business. Today we have completely unmanned toll booths, self-checkout stations, self-piloted satellites, automated production lines churning out cars in less than 35 labor hours/car, and several other fascinating examples of automation across sectors.
Automation provides a clear competitive edge by improving productivity, accuracy, speed and reducing costs. Yet, despite all the advantages, there is a looming fear in organizations when people hear the word automation – How will their organization structure change? Will there be job cuts? Will some skills become irrelevant? Can humans really be replaced by machines?
Though all these fears are justifiable, historically it has been observed that automation has created more jobs than it has replaced. According to a report by Deloitte, in the UK, between 1990 and 2013, over 800,000 new jobs were created of which over 200,000 were generated solely due to automation. This sentiment is reiterated in a survey conducted by the World Economic Forum in 2016, according to which out of the 200 business leaders interviewed, 85% agree that over the next 10 years automation will create more job opportunities than it will destroy.
Hence it is likely that going forward, with greater automation of processes, the number of jobs will not reduce but there will be a drastic change in the job roles. This is where an organization’s leadership team will play a crucial role of doing the balancing act. They have to move with the times and adopt various automation advancements. However, they also need to simultaneously focus on restructuring the organization as well as guide their employees to stay relevant & play a role in the organization’s growth.
Organization Re-Structuring & ‘The Skill Revolution’
With automation, the structure of organizations is bound to change drastically. The requirement for low skill labour will reduce, at the same time there will be a sudden surge in the number of vacancies for knowledgeable operators and technicians.
As per a study called the ‘Skills Revolution’ conducted by Manpower Group in association with the World Economic Forum – skills cycles will shorten drastically in the coming years and over 65% of the job roles that the Gen Z will perform will be new and do not even exist yet.
Organizations have the option of filling these vacancies by either hiring new talent with matching skill sets or training their older employees to fit the new roles. Finding workers with the matching niche expertise and experience is known to be quite challenging and therefore it may be in the company’s best interest to fill most of these positions internally by upskilling their talent pool.
This ‘Skills revolution’ survey that covered over 18,000 employers across 43 countries and six industry sectors, indicates that the key to success will be to ensure training & development of a workforce to fill in and adapt to the new evolving roles.
The role of the leadership
To keep up with the changing workplace paradigm, policy workers & leaders will need to be proactive in their approach. They will need to take measures to bridge the gap between the current skill sets of their employees and the future role requirements. They can do that by following a combination of approaches like
- Reskilling their workforce by providing training or bringing in external consultants adept in particular roles to transfer skill sets to their employees
- Hiring people with new skill sets
- Taking on independent consultants or outsourcing to external agencies for specific tasks
Another key function of the leaders will be to keep the morale of their workforce high and help them overcome their fears around automation & the anxiety of potentially losing their jobs. Talal Bayaa, co-founder, and CEO of Bayzat said: “Our research showed that HR managers, employees, businesses and insurance companies were in real need for an easy, efficient and cost-saving solution that simplifies the process of understanding the insurance plan and medical network.”
Machines can never replace humans. Some repetitive and predictive processes can be automated but we can never replace human traits like emotional intelligence, creativity, and understanding. However, to stay relevant in the system over time, employees should keep an open mind to the future of automation and embrace the unique learning opportunities and career progressions that will result from it.
Name: Talal Bayaa