Some people think that dramatic improvement in robotics and AI puts us on the road to a jobless future. MIT researchers Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee say we are in the "second machine age." It is true that many jobs will be at risk of being automated and it is happening right now. It is true the workplace is transforming. However, the job market does not show that robots are on the rise yet. Our clients share that they see a shortage of skilled folks and not a labor surplus. If automation to replace humans was really impacting us now, we might see more job turnover. One study written by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation says that "levels of job churn are at historic lows."
We can't deny huge changes in work, workers and the workplace. I respect what exists today and look forward to having the influence to change everything. This sculpture is in the harbor in Barcelona, called Miraestels. I was just there and loved this inspiring structure - he is holding a hidden star behind and he seems to pose a question, and imagines a possibility yet he is awaiting a response.
We in the people business don't have to wait for a response.
To get at some of the workplace questions, we hosted Kevin Mulcahy, author of the Future Workplace Experience and Dean Carter, head of HR and Shared Services for Patagonia on October 3rd with 100 senior executives to ask questions and learn of their perspective on change.
One message was, "The strongest organizations today are learning machines." That does not mean robots that learn, it means humans learning to leverage technology and be agile in the face of huge change.
There is a focus on productivity (app-ification) for almost everything, from performance, to how you give feedback, understand your talent and worker expectations as well as profiling success. The majority of our attendees, who are senior executives in HR or Talent said that digital analytics and workforce analytics is the next big thing for them. Data is king. But there was recognition that having a strategy and clear assumptions about change needed is essential.
Kevin Mulcahy says, "Pick your trends." Make the case for change and articulate the assumptions around this before you leap ahead with analytics or how you want to transform the workplace.
There was also discussion about Recruiting and the automation that will allow greater efficiency and the ability to build eco-systems of talent that are aligned with the organizations values, purpose and career paths. Dean Carter talked about building communities of people who might want to work with Patagonia but the company or individual may not be ready. His company curates conversations with talent that shares their values and purpose driven culture. He urged us all to think broadly about ongoing and continuous conversations with talent and why having a clear and compelling employer brand is critically important to answer the "why work here" question.
Are you a workplace activist? You need to be...the robot will not play that role at all. We have the opportunity in the people business to be the catalyst for change and to speak boldly about the big bets for the future and what can be started now. Go to it.