Automation and AI will change the skills required by the worker of tomorrow

Business leaders must adjust their scope or risk missing out on great talent and the impressive profits they bring

Automation and AI will change the skills required by the worker of tomorrow

Many things are changing the way we work. Market pressures, political volatility and trade tensions mean that organisations have to respond more rapidly to up and downturns in business. Simultaneously, workers are demanding greater flexibility and autonomy in the way they work.

Technology has played a significant role in this. Cloud computing means remote working is possible from anywhere in the world. It’s enabled greater flexibility, which has impacted both permanent employees and external contractors and freelancers. Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are set to disrupt entire industries and business leaders have to quickly respond to those changes. As will employees who may lose their roles to automation. Plus, to prepare for incoming technology like the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI, businesses must hire or upskill their talent – and there’s a shortage of the key skills required.

This is shaping the worker of tomorrow who won’t be a single cut-and-paste individual. Instead, the workers of the future will be defined by their diversity and autonomy. They’ll be freer to choose their career paths and work styles. They’ll align themselves with organisations that match their aspirations and values. 76% of millennials, for example, consider a company’s social actions before committing to work for them, according to research by Cone Communications. 90% of today’s employees don’t like the rigid nine-to-five and would prefer more flexible options, according to a report by flexible working consultancy Timewise.

The evolution of workers puts organisations under more pressure to deliver. Because hiring the right talent will be a huge competitive differentiator.

Those that invest in their workforce – and by this, I mean their entire total talent pool, including employees, contractors, freelancers, alumni and more – will be in better standing than their peers. Because the worker of tomorrow will have different needs to today’s workforce.

Partly, that’s because they’ll face different challenges. Those that work remotely risk feeling more isolated from their company and colleagues. If they don’t feel part of a close-knit team, they may be inclined to leave. However, remote workers who are given greater flexibility and who feel like part of their team, are more engaged than employees who work nine-to-five in an office, according to the Harvard Business Review. There’s a clear benefit for business leaders who give their workers greater flexibility but who keep up communication and engagement with their remote workforce. 

Work will move from jobs-based to projects-based. Making it easier for workers to choose their work style. It won’t be unusual to see one worker fulfil projects for one company on Monday, a different one on Tuesday and their old employer on Wednesday.

To do this well, organisations must prioritise the skills of their workers. Without greater skills visibility over total talent, the best people cannot be resourced onto the right projects. It’s also vital in the post-automation era. Because people will shift roles rapidly due to automation, organisations will have to track skills across various careers and projects.

Especially because lifelong learning will grow. The holy grail would be for organisations to track worker skills and aspirations, then recommend training and projects, which build further skills and experience. A virtuous cycle of continuous improvement and resourcing efficiency. 

To achieve this, a single point-of-contact is needed that stores and updates all worker data. This’ll help hiring managers resource projects on-demand. Selecting the best people for a task, based on their talent – instead of their employment status. 

Make no mistake, the worker of the future is coming. In fact, you could argue that they’re already here. We’re already seeing more people choose their work styles, more businesses move towards on-demand and flexible working. This will accelerate in coming years. Business leaders must prepare for this or risk being left behind in the war for talent. 


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