HR Needs to Ensure Workers are Retrained Amid Automation, Says Hays

The human resource function will have a key role in ensuring workers are retrained for evolving roles amid automation, according to recruiting expert Hays.

The automation of the workforce will impact the world of work, but there is no reason to worry about your job since human roles will evolve alongside technological change, says Hays in the latest edition of its Hays Journal.

The introduction of robotics into the workplace has already begun; it can be seen in workplaces as diverse as assembly lines in manufacturing plants to the introduction of self-service checkouts in supermarkets, but with this change comes an opportunity to create and adapt existing jobs as the workforce evolves.

No substitute for human touch

“There have been a number of headlines recently about the impact robotics is expected to have on the workforce”, says Dean Stallard, Regional Director of Hays Hong Kong. “Some of the more dramatic news stories have claimed that many jobs will be lost, including a report by Deloitte and the University of Oxford which claimed 10 million jobs would be lost to robots or computers within the next two decades.

“But what many overlook is the fact that new roles will be created as a result of new technology. It’s equally important to remember that there is no substitute for the human touch. Soft skills are incredibly important and are not to be underestimated in business.”

Rather than destroy jobs, technology can be expected to instead change roles, allowing workers to focus on other key areas of their work. In some cases, people will need to retrain for their evolving roles, so rather than being displaced by technology they will gain new skills. This is where HR functions will have a key role in ensuring that the human skills at their disposal are maximized.

Not programmable

“There are so many skills that humans have that robots simply cannot learn,” adds Dean. “For instance, a robot will never be an innovative and collaborative problem solver that can come up with and share creative ideas. Empathy and human instinct are crucial to a lot of roles too, and again these are not programmable; you cannot automate human emotion.”

Hays also suggests we consider that technology will ultimately be used to increase productivity by completing tasks that are laborious to humans and it is much more efficient at, such as searching documents. Businesses will implement technology where it has the most value and will take cost into consideration, only automating parts of the process where it makes business sense.

“Rather than being feared, technology should be seen as a tool that will enable us all to work smarter in our roles,” concludes Dean. “It should be seen much more as an enabler, helping us to be more efficient.”

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