With Automation On The Rise, Retrain Your Employees To Embrace The Future

According to IBM, the rise of artificial intelligence and automation are driving the need for employee retraining across the globe, and by 2022, almost 120 million workers will be in need of retraining to survive the cutthroat market. This is a wake-up call for all employers, especially startups still in their infancy, which set quite a score by adaptability and agility. The time is not far when the makeup of successful companies will be quite different from what we know today.

McKinsey Global Institute says that “a wide range of jobs carried out in predictable settings, such as assembly line workers, dishwashers, food preparation workers, drivers, and agricultural and other equipment operators,” will see substantial declines in employment. Food preparation jobs alone are projected to decrease by more than 35 percent by 2030 in the United States.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Amazon is quick to act on this trend. In the wake of this recent development, the tech giant has allotted a whopping $700 million effort to retrain 100,000 workers over the next six years. All its retraining programs are based on internal insights and aren’t limited to technical positions only; even jobs not falling under the company umbrella, such as nursing, are covered. Amazon knows the importance of making timely changes today to weather the changes of the future.

In any case, Artificial intelligence and Automation will greatly transform the business landscape.  Machines are projected to take over most roles, potentially putting people at the risk of unemployment. However, automation cannot replace the entire workforce; after all, someone has to work the machines. Not to mention, machines cannot touch certain occupations, such as criminologists, therapists, painters, musicians, etc. These occupations will go up in demand while these technological advancements will open up a host of new possibilities as well.

According to one Gallup and Northeastern University survey, many people will find it unable to adapt. The survey revealed that most people don’t even understand automation in its practical implications, much less, what it will entail for their jobs and employment opportunities. They are happy in their oblivion. People who do understand are scared, and the fact that most businesses lack any real contingency plans, doesn’t brighten up their prospects. The bigger the business, the higher the chances of automation replacing a greater chunk of employees, hurtling them into an uncertain future.

On the other hand, what comes as a dread to employees, is a blessing for entrepreneurs and those thinking about starting their own businesses. By reinvesting in the workforce to ease the transition of employees, entrepreneurs can future-proof their businesses and move with the times, without leaving anyone high and dry. Since businesses thrive on innovation and creative thinking – places AI hasn’t reached yet – these make up the perfect skills to lead the way forward.

In order to achieve this feat, entrepreneurs will need to factor in automation in both their hiring and training, starting today. However, big corporations are not the only ones responsible for hiring and training for the inevitable future; startups provide the ideal environment to start with this kind of preparation. Here are a few strategies all entrepreneurs can use to take the future by the horns.

1.      Determine Who Will Do The Work

Before a business can begin training its employees for success, its important to clearly define what that success looks like. In a nutshell; as automation takes root, its vital to delineate which tasks will be performed by humans and what work will machines do. Accenture has already started applying this approach on its employees. It is gaining a better comprehension of what automation and technology can add to the table and aid the company before investing in its employees. This way, it is making sure that technology and employees can work as one towards the betterment of the company, instead of being at odds. Once a role is best taken over by machines, it is better to give employees who are already in that role, an opportunity to learn new roles and skills before they are replaced by machines.

2.      Hire For Everlasting Skills

As a rule of thumb, most jobs that will be replaced by automation will of those that entail technical expertise, whereas roles that require a more holistic approach will still be reserved for humans. Therefore, workers equipped with skillsets you can’t directly get a diploma for, such as curiosity, social awareness, emotional intelligence, creativity and problem-solving, are least likely to be cast aside anytime soon. If your workplace hasn’t yet started hiring for these skills, its high time to do so. It’s not just about dealing with automation though; creative problem solvers and out-of-the-box thinkers are assets for any startup. If your team doesn’t possess these skills and traits, why not train them to help them outdo themselves. As for new hires, try to recognize creative skills by restructuring your interview skills. You will get a plethora of online resources for tips and advices on separating the true innovators from the common chafe.

3.      Make Retraining Measurable, Affordable, And Short

Between re-hiring and re-training, most employers lean more towards the latter, since it is more affordable and hassle-free to mold a current employee then hire a new one. Looking for and recruiting a new worker can cost up to 60 percent of that role’s salary, while training costs a mere 5%.

When you have an incredible team that knows your organization inside out, know your values and objectives by heart, understand what you stand for, comprehends what you care about, the investment that you can make in re-skilling them pales in comparison to starting from scratch on the culture that you lose.

However, most employers find the process of retraining quite intimidating, but it is quite the opposite. Discrete online courses such as Udemy, Linda and other resources have rendered the training process a breeze. Short courses that require input from employees or entail them to come out with some final product are the best, since they make it easier to gauge how much an employee is actually learning. Such short-term courses are much better than sending them off to college, even if it’s part-time or online. College tends to offer education on a longer timeline, which trumps any immediate impact. Training should not extend beyond a year.

Most people are wary of automation because they don’t understand it yet, and don’t know what it will look like for them. By investing in retraining while delineating skills that can’t be machine learned anyway, leaders can ensure that their startups are ready to take on the challenges of future, while keeping employees reassured that they are not going to become jobless. Automation and AI will transform the landscape of work. It’s up to the leaders to decide what that landscape looks like.

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