Will Peak AI in the Workplace Be a Blessing for Employees?


Tracey Lall, Director at Operartis shares her insights on AI, matching intelligence and technology in the workplace.

By 2023, IDC predicts over half (52%) of global GDP will be accounted for by digitally transformed enterprises. As companies continue to focus their usage of digital solutions, the potential for AI to make an impact on most job roles continues to grow, but will this be a blessing or a curse?

Although change is slow, research from the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab revealed that we’ve already seen workers benefit from a reduction in the average number of tasks they need to perform, as companies take advantage of automation. But should workers worry that a reduction in tasks will eventually make them obsolete, or can we expect wider societal shifts to take hold?

Let’s take a look at some of the changes we might see on the road ahead to 2020 and beyond.

The Problem With Growth
As automation continues to take hold, the first thought on people’s minds will be the risk of direct job losses. However, these predictions vary widely. The World Economic Forum predicts a net gain of 53 million jobs by 2023, yet this is small comfort to the 20 million people expected to lose manufacturing jobs by 2030.

It’s not just the manufacturing sector either. Mid-range occupations are also at risk of seeing wages stagnate, increasing the effect of the squeezed middle classes we are seeing globally. In this case, the possible future looks much like the present. Wage growth has not kept up with increased worker productivity, even as CEO pay has skyrocketed 940% since 1978.

There are ways out of this scenario. Workforce retraining for displaced employees is one method, though the effectiveness of these company-run programs is questionable at best. Without government investment in future-proof curriculums, employees are left behind.

A bleak future for work unfolds when employers and governments alike ignore investment in their employees and citizens. A 21st century that works for all by helping everyone work takes more than just retraining and development. It’s about developing an attitude of collaboration – one that uses technology as a means of creating, developing, and nurturing employee satisfaction.

AI’s Secret Advantage
Much has been discussed what AI can, will, and should do in society, with everything from chatbots to music composition now guided or even fully automated by machine learning. In the corporate world, the fear of job loss can inhibit AI adoption, but only when its adoption is handled poorly.

For example, rote work and menial tasks are easily handled by AI. Any repetitive duty currently handled by a disengaged worker can be outsourced to a machine, leaving workers free to focus on the 21st century’s most important skill: creativity.

A survey of 1500 CEOs found that creativity is the most highly-sought attribute in a candidate, outranking rigor, vision, and even integrity for the number one spot. It’s not just from the top-down either: having less menial work improves worker satisfaction and productivity, a rare win-win for managers and workers.

This drive toward mutually beneficial workplace policy can manifest in other ways as well. The 4-day work week, long discussed and debated online, is already being implemented in pilot programs across the world. Microsoft’s recent work-free Fridays’ test schedule in their Japan office increased productivity by 40%. The program, known as the “Work-Life Choice Challenge,” also encouraged workers to schedule fewer meetings and only answer emails during work hours.

Small business owners, startups and freelancers are also set to benefit as they’re able to outsource aspects of business operations to automation that would have previously required a full-time role, resulting in a new generation of entrepreneurs. By taking advantage of the positive effects of automation, workers and companies can thrive in the digital age.

Learn More: The Impact of AI in Human Resource Decision-Making Processes

A Future We Want
In the early 2000s, we saw many companies off-shoring business functions to India and the Philippines. Initially, this caused wage stagnation and job losses in the US, however, once the initial disruption settled more workers were able to see an increase in satisfying and creative professional roles. In fact, for every one job lost to outsourcing in the 1990s, two more were created in the US.

A similar shift is on the horizon for the 2020s. Whether we move toward a utopian or dystopian outcome depends heavily on how companies handle the automation provided by AI. Responsible companies will pass on the benefits of automation to their employees – and watch their workplaces thrive with newfound creativity.

Source : https://www.hrtechnologist.com/articles/ai-in-hr/will-peak-ai-in-the-workplace-be-a-blessing-for-employees/

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