Adding your voice to the discussion on “The Future of Work”

January 10, 2019

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I know many of FleishmanHillard’s clients have innovative programs to address and enhance the changing nature of the workplace. This is a top-of-mind topic that provides a multitude of opportunities for forward-thinking companies to join the discussion in Tier 1 media.

As just one example, Reuters sponsored a panel – The Future of Work: An Exploration of the Transforming World of Work – just before the holidays that underscored the media’s interest in what employment will look like in the next decade. Moderated by editor Lauren Young, the panel included experts from top companies and professional services firms who took a deep dive into the subject.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • The rise of “new collar” jobs. No longer white or blue, new collar jobs are all about the skills of a worker. Companies are looking to match employees to jobs that best fit their skills.
  • The half-life of job skills is getting shorter. The time that a job is in demand before it’s “innovated away” is getting exponentially shorter and companies and employees must adjust. Spoiler alert: Tech and automation in the workplace will impact not just some of our jobs, but all of our jobs.
  • Companies must help employees reinvent themselves. This should not be a random or ad hoc process – companies should build systems and programs to help employees transform and reinvent themselves on an ongoing basis.
  • Tech is not replacing jobs, it’s enhancing jobs. Tech may drive the process, but forward-thinking companies understand that change is supported by people. People and technological innovation should work hand-in-hand and not be viewed as a zero-sum game.
  • Many tech jobs don’t require years of experience. Certain jobs in AI, data and coding, for example, don’t require a lot of experience or special degrees. Many can be learned in an apprenticeship program with a person going from an out-of-date job to a new and more relevant position.
  • Future of work literacy. What today’s jobs require in terms of skills and experience is something that needs constant and close attention. It’s something companies must address for their own good and for the good of their employees.

Keeping employees engaged and aligned during transformation

It’s also worth noting that all of these tech advances with people impacts are a result of the rapid business transformation happening across every industry and sector – and that the pace and breadth of change is only going to increase.

The companies that will successfully navigate their transformations are those that will take time to listen to employees about what they need and want from their employee experience, and then go the extra mile to connect with them personally, especially as AI plays more prominently in our daily lives.

Younger millennials and Gen Z workers, in particular, will continue to crave more face-to-face interaction. That means communications training for managers will be more important, including guidance on how to communicate via video. And the most effective leaders will know how to lean into their soft skills – the things that AI can’t replace just yet, such as empathy and persuasion – which may require closer working relationships with HR.

Sheila Rose is a Senior Vice President and Partner in the New York office specializing in corporate and financial media relations.