We dashed to innovation peak somewhere around 1845 and have been tumbling down since. Our basic needs are measured up and we shut our eyes for bigger/ better things in life. For decades we have been living in a perpetual home-to-office, an office-to-home automated mode which comes so naturally to us now; Living to earn a living, strutting way within limits without pushing boundaries to evolve into the best versions of ourselves. Most of what we needed to achieve has been achieved so we languidly focused on our 720x1280 mobile screen forgetting all about the risks of the world around us. There seemed to be none.
Until yesterday that beckoned the arrival of robots. They are ready to take away our jobs, break our habit shackles and split our slavery. We are awake again, well aware of the job loss risks staring at our faces. We can’t afford to look away. Our eyes are wide open with terror. We don’t know how we will survive without our comfy jobs and mobile screens offer little solace. We are forced to do a reality check. We are forced to innovate.
Tracing the Trajectory of the Future Skill Projectile:
Paulo Coelho, in his groundbreaking book the Alchemist, said: “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” It seems ages since the baby boomers and Gen-X have been cribbing about the residual stress from their quotidian jobs. Thankfully their heritor's Millennials and Gen-Z have grown up a vision and a spine to divert themselves from this futile grind that is robbing us of our greater glory. And fortunately, technology has given them means too.
In workhuman’s 2019 report, for 3rd year in a row, workers in all age groups have rated meaningful work as a top priority. They are trying to find meaning in the things they do and in the systems they support. Their job search goes beyond hefty pay packages and big names and, now they want to belong and contribute to bigger and better things. They want to innovate and build. Employee experience has sprung up as the top employment trend of 2018.
Organizations too echo this sentiment. The 2018 Global Talent Trends Study – Unlocking Growth in the Human Age study says 91% of the US organizations have innovation on their priority. The same report says more than half of workers are demanding flexibility in work.
Depth of Disruption Impact:
The Future of Jobs report by the World Economic Forum says disruptive technologies like AI, robotics, and nanotech are changing the face of existing jobs markets and future hiring will be more skills driven than degree/diploma driven. Mercer in its 2018 report said that a human operating system will be pivotal to the future of work. Employers need to add meaningful work to the employee value proposition and enhance their employee experience.
But that’s just the beginning. Tremendous groundwork has to be done before we can begin to bask in the luxury of future tech utopia. A Mckinsey’s 2019 survey report says 60% of graduates aren’t prepared for work. 37% of respondents feel that organizations are not utilizing their full potential. The report also says skills instability will affect 29% of the US residents by 2020 and its impact will be felt across levels. World Economic Forums says retraining displaced workers might cost the US USD 34 billion. The US Department of Labor has granted USD 100 million for training and career service programs of displaced workers.
Innovation remains the eye of this tornado driving its extent and impact and all levels.
Reform, Reinvent or Rot
AI’s memo to the business world is clear: reform, reinvent or relinquish the mainline competition. Organizations with conventional outlook have little hope to thrive and survive in the future business environment. They need to innovate and innovate soon. Automation in its subtle way is greasing the process. The Cloud computing firm, ServiceNow, in its 2019 report The Business Value of Digital Workflows says that automated workplaces are more productive and creative. They are successful in improving their employee engagement. This comes with its subtle perks. Organizations in the top 25% of employee experience bracket give a return on assets of about three times than the ones in the bottom rung. A 2017 Glassdoor survey says to focus on candidate experience has shown to improve the quality of hires by 70%. According to Linkedin Talent Solutions, a better employer brand can speed up the hiring process by two times and can save 50% costs.
Engage to Innovate:
A 2015 research into the meaning, antecedents, and outcomes of employee engagement by Bailey, Madden et. al found a significant link between employee engagement and innovation. HRs can improve employee engagement by:
The Deep Disruption Impact
It may look offbeat but the fourth industrial revolution is only changing the course of automation that began in the 1800s. Industrial revolution detracted us from humans to machines and we somehow dented painted ourselves to fit in the system suitable for convenience of machines. Robots are shoving us back on our evolution track again. However reluctantly.
While on the outside, this looks like a complete overhaul, the true breakthrough, the finest paradigm shift is happening in our inside mental space. We are driven to use the 1.5kgs of gray matter perched on our heads because once again in a long time this is not just a matter of comfort, this is a matter of our survival. It is a matter of jobs we have been hanging on to with all we’ve got.
Robots are coming to take our jobs. And for the greater good. Because in the eternity of things, being human should mean more than doing repetitive stuff to retain mere survival. If the question is of survival then even ants and rats are doing so, even Neanderthals did, maybe in the absence of added stress and physical robustness, a bit better than us. So where do we as new-age humans stand? What do we do with that extra 1.5 kg of idolized stuff in our heads? We will soon know!