Organizations should reconfigure structure, training and recruitment to help their existing workforce cope with automation.
So, your organization must know how to prepare your human resources to be able to get the most out of modern technology.
When it comes to automation at the workplace, people generally tend to picture only the worst-case scenarios in their minds. Popular opinion always sides with the narrative of employees being shown the exit door when a machine takes over their jobs. And while that side of the debate may hold some weight, the logical argument is that automation and workplace digitization will only make employees (and the overall future of work across the board) more productive and multifaceted.
Firstly, there are several mundane and repetitive tasks (data entry operations, basic accounting) in any organization carried out by workers who may have other capabilities apart from the ones required for their core operations. Allowing AI or other automated technologies to execute those tasks will push such workers towards learning new skills to help the organization in other ways. One of the first things your workers will need to know is that automation is not here to push them towards eternal joblessness. With that out of the way, here are a few things you can do to make your employees accustomed to future automation in your organization.
The process of preparing your organization for a digital transformation begins much before the introduction of automation. Firstly, the key decision-makers in an organization must make strategies at the micro as well as macro level. Executive-level employees must have the requisite foresight to know where their company would be after a five or ten-year period. For instance, human resource executives must ensure that workers hired in the present can be of use to the organization in the future as well. Otherwise, they must verify whether new recruits are adaptive enough to take on new roles once their existing tasks are automated.
There are a few certainties about the future of work operations when organizations automate or digitize their processes. Firstly, automation promises to influence every aspect of a company's work. The organization's services may require customers to interact with automated machines. As existing physical infrastructures vanish, companies may look to outsource less to reduce costs and boost self-reliance.
One of the important things to teach employees is to take more ownership of their own as well as their colleagues' operations to ensure that everybody pulls in the right direction. The employees have to increase their overall application to boost their work output once the automated machines are installed and fully functional. Additionally, while some of the personnel will become surplus to requirements, it is ethically right for the organization to ensure that most of their workers retain employment even after the automation of work processes.
Externally, the company's customers must be provided with purchase incentives and competitive prices (momentarily) to eventually increase the demand for the organization's products and services. Internally, the employees must be trained to handle these increased demands and the automation tools in place to meet them.
Perhaps most importantly, an organization must make sure that its new recruits have the necessary digital quotient (DQ), soft skills, and problem-solving know-how to understand how automated machines in their new workplace work. As a result, the recruitment process is heavily influenced by extensive automation too. The concerned stakeholders must receive information about how your organization can continue its steady production levels despite a smaller workforce. As we can see here, there are many facets of your organization that must be remolded before you take the digital dive into automation.
Automation is introduced in organizations to allow workers to execute tasks that a machine cannot accomplish. Therefore, it is important that the workers of your organization upskill to perform tasks that require a greater degree of creativity and human intellect for their completion. The future of work in the age of automation depends upon how willing and capable such employees are to learn new things to keep their jobs as well as diversify their work knowledge.
While automation and technology will keep rising in most organizations over time, employees also feel that that would be a good opportunity to learn new skills and increase their qualifications. Before organizations implement AI or other technologies at their workplaces, they must plan to seamlessly streamline their workforce (that will not be needed once automation is introduced in the organization) into new roles and operational departments. After that, the employers must conduct extensive training and upskilling sessions for their workers. The process of training and delegation must be transparent so that the existing workers know what they will be learning and working on in the future. Organizations need to put in the required investment into these training and upskilling programs. It is important to know that the new skills and knowledge will not only help the workers to adapt better to automation within their workplace but also increase promotional opportunities for them in their current and future jobs.
On their part, the workers will have to have an open mind to embrace the changes too. Any change begins with the curiosity to learn brand-new things and the mindset to adapt to newer surroundings. So, the workers will have to learn to work with the robots and other automation systems in such a way that the two entities complement each other perfectly. For example, a worker currently working on a supply chain process can learn basic coding that can be used to control components of the new machines at their workplace.
Apart from these, workers can develop cross-operational and interdisciplinary skills to work with individuals from other operations and, perhaps, other industries. We know that automation will create jobs that may not be existing now (because there are several existing designations that had not been created just a few decades ago). So, even though employees may not have the knowledge to perform their new tasks immediately, they must have a good understanding of the timeless skills related to the emotional quotient, basic persuasion abilities, amongst others. Therefore, interpersonal skills are incredibly important in today's corporate landscape and must be included in the training sessions.
Organizations must use the latest technologies at their disposal to enhance their existing workforce. Concepts such as AI-powered systems and e-learning have allowed workers to be trained in the most holistic ways today. Organizations can customize the learning process to be perfect for all their workers. The customization can be brought about by machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing, and other AI-related concepts.
On the recruitment front, HR professionals can deploy a number of screening technologies to attain the recruits who have high adaptability and openness to working in a highly digitized workspace. Most organizations in the future will be technology-driven. As a result, employees in such organizations will need to have competent data crunching and analytical abilities, along with the right amount of digital know-how. Therefore, organizations must create a technique to gauge their potential recruits' digital knowledge, such as a survey or a digital aptitude test. This will enable your HR representative to know a candidate's proficiencies in a given operational area. Additionally, this evaluation process could include computer skills or machine learning-related abilities. Organizations must deploy some of their automation techs to prepare their potential future employees for the technological overhaul in the workplace.
While complete automation of each and every aspect of an organization is an inspired idea, it is difficult to pull off due to the massive logistical and cost factors involved. So, organizations need to figure out in which areas do they want to implement automation technologies. As we know, certain operations may need automation more than others. Therefore, it is essential that organizations commence the process of identifying such operations that could be upgraded with technology.
Initially, organizations could automate the tasks and operations with an element of repetition in them. The tasks which involve high-level calculations and repetition can be carried out by a preprogrammed machine. Moving forward, an organization can implement AI and other intelligent technologies into more complicated processes involving forecasting and executive decision-making.
As mentioned earlier, automation will not take away all the jobs from an organization’s existing workforce. Unfortunately, that means that some job positions will be rendered irrelevant by technology. The future of work in most mega corporations promises to be technology-driven within the next decade or so. So, organizations need to be smart when trying to prepare their workers for a technological transformation of their workplaces. As seen in this piece, automation opens several doors of opportunities for the employees in any organization. Additionally, one must never forget that the human being in the equation remains an important part of all organizations. Technology will only take over repetitive jobs for now. So, organizations must use their human resources intelligently to complement their automated machines perfectly in the future.
Naveen is the Founder and CEO of Allerin, a software solutions provider that delivers innovative and agile solutions that enable to automate, inspire and impress. He is a seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience, with extensive experience in customizing open source products for cost optimizations of large scale IT deployment. He is currently working on Internet of Things solutions with Big Data Analytics. Naveen completed his programming qualifications in various Indian institutes.