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6 Ways Automation Will Change the Workplace and HR

Automation is replacing tasks previously performed by people, changing the workplace creating new ways of working for everyone” says Martin Belton.

Organizations everywhere will benefit from embracing automation. The Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum Professor Klaus Schwab believes the fourth industrial revolution will create new work opportunities and connect countless more people to the web. He says it will dramatically improve our efficiency as individuals and in business. These new technologies will impact all job roles, disciplines, and even challenge us about what it means to work.

Inevitably, it will mean new challenges for leaders and executives. And huge changes for, HR and L&D teams as they reposition their workforce for the changes ahead. As with any future, we can only imagine the shape and structure of these changes. But there are good reasons to believe in at least five real changes:

1. Automation will be embraced by organizations. Given the efficiencies that will be yielded from automation tasks previously performed by people will be performed by machines. The justification for automation is compelling. Initially, this will require partnering between employees and machines which might be cause discomfort or even discontent if not managed effectively. Developing and communicating the plan to accommodate employees’ jobs post automation will be an important part of this communication.

2. Finding training solutions for fast-changing processes: Clearly, employees will need to be trained on how to partner with machines and then learn how to operate new applications and machines. The challenge for HR will be keeping up with demands for these new training programs and sourcing the required subject matter experts when few exist.

3. Supporting employees in a disruptive ‘agile business’: The rapid changes caused by automation will mean organizations will need to provide support to help employees embrace this constant disruption. History is littered with examples of upset employees, upset and disorientated by unfamiliar new tools, machines, and practices. That means new support processes will be needed that are focused on understanding change and adapting to it.

4. Finding new and more diverse talent: Work will become ever more specialized. This will mean HR will need to find and attract specialized talent of all demographics from all over the world, developing and engaging new people. HR itself will need to build new networks and methods to find this expert talent.

5. Managing the increasing use of external teams: With teams becoming diverse and specialized new systems of identifying and managing talent are going to be inevitable. Key team members will not necessarily be employees or work onsite. HR will need to invest in new forms of communication and collaboration to give the management the necessary tools to coordinate virtual teams.

6. Understanding the robotics and systems versus employment equation: The increasing use of robots and robotic processes on the shop floor and office will mean new ways of evaluation will be needed. As machinery becomes more complex and capable, so the variables of a job roles’ requirements. This will make planning for staffing and employment needs more complicated. Leaders and HR executives will need new and smarter tools to plan and evaluate their success.

Managing these transitions and new forms of talent will need new IT systems that engage with these new working arrangements. New HR roles will emerge. Functions will arise that we can’t imagine now but will be commonplace in a few years.

Solutions such as the Talent Transformation Pyramid are shaped to help organizations understand these changes and react to them. Without this holistic view of talent we are going to find it difficult to understand and support the organization’s future needs.

We have evolved today organizations with complex hierarchies and decades of legacy infrastructure. If they are to become tomorrow’s agile businesses, and bring about these seismic changes, then digital and talent transformation is key to achieving that. And that starts with the HR department.