Studies and data about what the future of work looks like keep suggesting the importance that technology will play in the future. Adding to the discourse is a research from the Korn Ferry Institute, according to which, more than two-thirds of executives said that technology will increasingly, and soon, provide greater value than actual human employees, reports CNBC.
What is the study?
800 leaders of multimillion-dollar global businesses were surveyed during a research conducted by the Korn Ferry Institute, a consulting firm that specializes in hiring executives. The responses were collected during August and September.
Korn Ferry says that the study was conceived after finding that CEOs had a ‘significant blind spot’ in the way they value their workforce, and reducing something as complex as human capital to cost and benefits.
What were the results?
- 67% of the respondents believed that in five years time, technology will become their organisation’s biggest competitive advantage.
- 44% of the respondents replied that employees maybe ‘largely irrelevant’ due to robotics, automation and artificial intelligence.
- Nearly half of respondents said their organizations don't understand how to measure workforce performance.
- The surveyed CEOs ranked products and services, brands and real estate as more important assets than their employees.
- However, the report also says that Korn Ferry estimated that ‘human capital represents more than twice the potential value of physical capital in the global economy, especially as more major economies become services-focused.’
- Leaders also lack confidence in their ability to materially influence their employees' performance, or in other words points to under-confidence and inefficiencies in the role of a leader.
- Automation, robotics and artificial intelligence have swiftly integrated with businesses and have become central factors to the meteoric success of the biggest companies in USA.
What do the results imply?
Alan Guriano, Vice Chairman in Korn Ferry’s CEO and Board Services practice, says, “(the) answers were pretty shocking in that they (CEOs) far more highly valued investment in technology and other things, and not so much investment around human capital.”
The results bring to fore the much-discussed yet rarely-acted-on issue of investing in human capital, and predict that “automation, robotics and artificial intelligence will replace jobs in the short-term, (and) workers will have to evolve and master new skills.” “It's not pretty," Guarino said. "It's painful. It hurts. But ultimately, the jobs move up the value chain, not down the value chain." He goes onto argue that for the past several decades, CEOs have viewed salary and compensation as a ‘cost’, and not as ‘money deployed well’. An Army veteran, Alan Guriano says that investing in leadership is a no-brainer, yet money is not spent in training and teaching people how to lead.
Understandably, the results hold much significance for leaders and organisations worldwide, for they give an insight as to how their peers view the role of technology, and human capital. Furthermore, the results show that the future of work will be as unpredictable, as challenging, and a massive thrust in skill development and up-gradation will be needed. But very importantly, the results show how employers undervalue their employees and are willing to invest in technology to get better returns, but do not put as much effort or resources in developing the potential of their own employees, or in fact, even measuring the performance of their employees – as suggested by half the respondents.
The research confirms and quantifies the worst assumption about how companies view their employees. The fact that products and services, brands and real estate are considered more important than the humans that work for them, is disturbing, to say the least. Investing in people, and enabling them will give multiplied returns is not a secret, but the reluctance of organisations to truly execute the same signifies to a malice of thought, will and motivation. But if cost and return is the only language that employees are talked in, Alan Guriano makes a solid case, “... an ineffective leader can literally destroy the human capital capacity of an organization, and a great leader can create force multipliers... and that means you invest money in training people how to become great leaders, and that money, over time, will return multiples."