How Automation Will Change the Future of the Workforce

in Business

Automation has been in and out of the news for almost a decade now, but it is recent reports by McKinley Global Institute, who used statistics obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor and the Occupational Information Network that has the workforce in an uproar.  From manual laborers to CEOs, it was discovered that using current technology, 25 percent of tasks across every job category will be automated by 2019 and almost 50 percent of tasks could be automated with minor advancements.

Will robots steal your job? No, probably not today or even tomorrow.  According to MGI, even with today’s advancements in technology, only about 5% of jobs can be fully automated and only about 9% by 2019.  What it does mean is that business owners and C-suite executives need to rethink their business model to both take advantage of the automation available and re-educate their employees to be more proficient at the tasks that will not be automated any time soon, like those that require human interaction.

Workers will need to learn new skills and become more flexible as virtual assistants, new software, robotics and other forms of automation increasingly takeover daily duties.  While lower paying jobs are five times more likely to be automated, it is not just the lower skilled laborers that will have their jobs disrupted.  MGI also brought light to the fact that even in jobs where the income is over $200,000, over 30% of the person’s time is spent doing tasks that could be automated today.

While the study does show that automation will affect careers across the board, most automatable work involves physical labor, data input and collection, accounting, accommodation and foodservice. These activities represent over $2.7 trillion in wages and more than half of time spent working. MGI modeled the potential of business processes across several different industries, it was shown that the benefits, including increased output, higher quality and safety, were three to ten times the cost of automation.

What shall we look for in 2017? Automation will affect workplace trends, but we will not see the replacement of employees this year. Many activities that do not require any creativity or judgment will be automated, however, the workers who formerly did those duties will have to develop new skills complimentary to the automation, including decision making and client relations.

The corporations that will be the most successful with the oncoming automation will be those that look to employee well-being as a priority. In today’s working world, workers are looking for more than just a paycheck. They are searching for culture and values that resonate within themselves. Creating an attractive work environment and investing in the career development of employees is what will create more productivity, retention and engagement.

So while robots and automaton are definitely part of the future of the workplace, so is the idea that the reasoning behind it is to create a better environment for all involved, from laborer to executive. The idea is not to replace the human worker, but to improve both his skills and his experience. As technology advances so must humans evolve.

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