With technology developing at a constant rate, it’s inevitable that the way people work and are managed will change in the years to come. Boston Consulting Group recently estimated that, by 2025, up to a quarter of jobs will be replaced by either smart software or robots. As well as impacting the wider workforce, this is bound to have a significant effect on HR and resourcing functions.
An automated workforce:
An in-depth report from Oxford University, on the future of employment predicted that 35 per cent of jobs are at risk of automation in the next 20 years. We are already seeing driverless cars, ‘carebots’ for the elderly and automated check-outs making their way into daily workplace practices, and the trend is only beginning, but what effect will this have on the workplace? Will it make workers more efficient or will it cause mass unemployment and economic unrest?
The study claims that routine jobs susceptible to computerisation are the most at risk. For obvious reasons, more creative jobs, such as writing, entrepreneurship and scientific discovery, will be safe and even likely to benefit from technological advancements.
The impact on HR as a service:
On the bright side, as certain roles – such as check-outs at supermarkets – become automated, other jobs are being created to support, advance and manage this new technology. These advancements could even lead to extra time for ‘human roles’ to focus on more creative, productive tasks.
So how will this affect HR? Our recent Workforce Horizons research found that businesses believe that one in ten roles today will no longer exist by 2025, so HR will, of course, need to adjust to these new role requirements as they develop, by focusing on filling the knowledge gaps created by the sheer pace of technological change. We’re already seeing a well-documented skills shortage in terms of digital technology, so it’s clear that much more needs to be done to ensure the workforce is on the front foot for the future. Who knows, automated machines could even help plug the skills gap; aiding existing tech teams with mundane tasks, and freeing up more time for training, knowledge and innovation.
Firms will need to review their HR strategy as certain jobs become more automated. Contracts, search methods and skillsets, amongst other things, will change. We’ve already seen how digitalisation and the introduction of social media haves affected recruitment but HR will need to adapt their services even further to meet the requirements of future businesses.
The future of the HR professional:
So the big question is whether the role of the HR professional itself is at risk? Rapidly advancing technology will not only affect the jobs at hand, but also who executes them. Automation has already made an impact on HR, as tasks such as staff training become more efficient by using computerised testing programmes. The key for HR is to see the opportunity, rather than the threat. By embracing the concept of automation, and even the use of robotics, for the more transactional tasks, HR can free up more time to focus on adding real strategic value to the business whilst improving its own bottom line.
To stay relevant and ahead of the game, HR will need to alter its focus to prove its worth by taking the lead on the impact of man vs. machine in a way which highlights innovation within the department and thus secure its invaluable seat at the top table.