Automation is upon us whether we like it or not. The world is constantly striving for progress and these days it’s all going digital – and I do mean all. If today it’s safe to say that there is an internet of people, very soon it will be an internet of things with the volume of devices outnumbering the individuals connected. More and more houses are starting to be smart, reminding us to save on electricity and water and making every process that goes on in them more timely and efficient.
So with everything improving around us, learning how do more things in better ways, we can’t really stand still. Of course, inserting a chip into our brains and installing new software is not (yet) the answer but we do all need to try and take a peek into the future and prepare for it.
5 Skills for the port-automation workforce
Automation brings with it a need for a specific set of skills for employees and a requirement for a paradigm shift for organizations. Here are just five of them:
The workforce of today already is very different from that of a few years back. Millennials already make up the majority of current employees and they are dynamic, ambitious and restless. They mostly want to be autonomous and desire a very good work-life balance. Companies strive to accommodate them by allowing for flexible hours and work-from-home periods and it looks like the days of the nine to five office time are numbered.
Yet this new found freedom from time and space restraints comes with a lot of responsibility. The employees of tomorrow will have to develop better time and task management skills in order to be able to do their jobs right from wherever and whenever they want. Anybody who has ever been on a diet knows that self-discipline is the hardest.
Even today companies use all the information available on social media when they choose to hire. Professional networks are in their turn gaining terrain as we speak. What happens in Vegas no longer stays there but makes it on Facebook, Twitter, Spotify or YouTube. Soon one will no longer have to submit a CV in order to get a job, just say their name and one click will let the employer know everything.
Reputation has always been important. Not too long ago, recommendation letters were crucial in the quest to get hired. Today, endorsements received from other professionals on specialized networks matter just as much.
In the post-automation era, what the internet has to say (and show) will have great baring so having the know-how to manage one’s online image will be paramount. Talent and skill will still be the main reason for getting a job but they will have to be apparent before the actual interview.
Brushing up on people-skills
Since reputation is built by gaining the trust and recognition of people (even in an automated world), the importance of being connected and present in professional networks will only grow. It will matter less who you are and more who you know and what those people know and say about you.
There’s a wise piece of corporate wisdom that goes “personal brand is what people say about you when you are not in the room”. The weight of personal brand will be greater in the future and those who will excel at cultivating relationships and exercising people skills will only stand to gain.
It is sort of a paradox that in a time of AI interpersonal capabilities will be held in higher regard than ever before. Emotional intelligence will be at least on the same level as a big IQ. With machines everywhere, the real challenge will be dealing with people in a positive way.
Yet probably the most important skill that all of us will have to master will be continual growth and development. The days of learning to do something and repeating that until retirement are long gone. Even today, with automation in its earliest stage, things change rapidly and we have to find new ways to do old things or figure out how to do something altogether new almost every other week.
Information is everywhere and there is a demand for constant improvement in all aspects of life and work. Even something as simple as a software update on our smartphone can come with a high degree of novelty and require some adapting on our part. Since organizations are already considering big re-skilling programs, we should all be ready and embrace the shifts we’ll have to be part of. Luckily, we are very well equipped to face such challenges – learning is in our DNA.
Apart from deploying retraining programs for large numbers of employees, companies will have to make some other adjustments. First and foremost, organizations will need to stay true to and lead through their values. Sure, they have these statements today. Usually they are about transparency, honesty and making the world a better place – they all sound like contenders in a beauty pageant.
Millennials are already lead by their principles and need to work for something they truly believe in. Businesses who actually want to attract and retain talent will have to really act consistently to their values. Furthermore, companies will need to find ways to balance predictability and chance – employees will still want security but also the possibility to evolve and grow.
All in all
All things considered, the post-automation era will come with rather big challenges. However, if they are met with a good deal of enthusiasm and responsibility, progress will be unavoidably wonderful, companies will be more successful and their employees more prosperous.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.