Workplace trends to watch out for

If there’s one thing that has been constant across civilizations, that’s change. Today’s technological revolution, triggered by breakthroughs like artificial intelligence(AI), machine learning, and big data, is all set to disrupt the lives of at least three billion people working across the globe. The scale of the current disruption is bigger than the total global population during the previous revolutions. Sad, but true: we don’t even have a template for this scale of disruption. Worse, individuals or businesses are not even ready for this transformation.

The biggest inflection point, ever witnessed by mankind, was the time when motors replaced physical human effort, multiplying the economy manifold. The world is currently at another such inflection point – human thinking power is poised to grow at an unprecedented pace – thanks to Quantum Computing, AI, and Machine Learning. No other change in human history has been more disruptive, and there’s enough reason to believe that this one will also be the biggest.

So what’s the way forward?

‘Race with the machines and not against them’, should be the guiding principle for modern-day Human Capital Strategists. The biggest areas where companies falter in their digital journey are when they assume that digital is all about the best technology investment, and forget to focus on a new culture and a new structure.

Individuals need to take charge of their learning journeys and find similar ways to disrupt their careers, relearn and enter into new gigs, to keep relevant. No one can help unless you have the humility to learn and grow.

Organizations need to treat employee engagement as a real-time initiative. Workplace benefits need to be hyper-personalised and contextualised to create effective employee journeys. Learnability is a trait worth developing continuously – employees of tomorrow should make learning a lifelong habit.

 

Here are a few transformation megatrends that business heads must watch out for. They need to use a Human Capital lens to view these ‘real eye-openers’ that will affect their organizations before 2030:

 

Entry-level jobs of today will disappear: We are in the middle of a storm. According to The Washington Post, the first decade of the 21st century didn’t create any new jobs in the US economy. In India, there’s a pressing need to create millions of jobs every year just to keep pace with the graduating talent seeking employment. The Indian Government’s ‘Vision 2022’ foresees us as a net exporter of talent, which maybe a deviation from this trend. Globally, wages for University graduates declined in the past decade. More than 50% of graduates are employed in jobs with no connection to their domain of study. This can be attributed to the automation of entry-level jobs, which will continue to be a major trend.

Plutonomy as a trend: A top-heavy economic system where 1-5% of the digitally-able population, who have access to and drive the best technologies, seem to be garnering all income as well as driving consumption.

AI and Machine Learning as autonomous workers: Human Capital Strategists need to include Machines as part of their workforce, not only to enhance employee productivity but to be their alternate as well. According to the International Federation of Robotics, global shipments of industrial robots increased by 60% in the last decade, with China being the biggest consumer. Strange, considering its massive and cheap workforce.

The language advantage vanishes: Google is working on a “universal translator”, which will soon remove the barrier for countries where English language usage is acute. This may completely redefine outsourcing dynamics. An English speaking workforce at scale, which was an India advantage will be under tremendous strain.

Cloud Robotics & Democratisation: The power of a machine goes up when it’s on Cloud, something that’ll change the onshore-offshore dynamics. Google announced its support to Cloud Robotics in 2011, allowing developers to interface AI, Robotics, and Android. Today, 40% of the work in an American farm is performed by robots.
The onus lies on businesses to be the catalysts of change. They should continue to explore avenues of co-existence, identifying areas where machines and humans can work in tandem. Further, continuous upskilling and reskilling ought to be an integral part of their Human Capital strategy.

The team at Actuate Business Consulting, a knowledge based management consulting firm in India, believes, that history and civilization are great teachers; there’s so much to learn, adapt, and adopt from them. The world has witnessed three waves before and the fourth one is mightier than all of them taken together. Now it’s over to the business heads to decide whether to ride the wave or be washed away by it.

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