The rise of the augmented workforce: What does it mean for the HR organization?
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The modern workplace is not just digital friendly, they are already augmented with technology. Not only are people driving output, but also smart machines are adding their own unique value through machine learning techniques. For example, while the experience-based judgment-call may be taken by human recruiters, algorithms are increasingly being used to source and select prospective candidates.
Considering that the engagement drivers for today’s workforce are largely influenced by how they experience technology in their daily lives. In accordance with the technology transformation, employees’ expectations from their organizations are changing, and the way they look at work is distinctly different from their traditional ways.
- Managing changing career aspirations: Earlier, employees used to aspire to move up the corporate hierarchy, reaching the top echelons of the organization through long-term service. Today’s workforce is different, we often find people with 10-15 years of experience aiming to become a CEO of a company. People-aspirations are changing at a heightened pace.
The augmented workforce views career advancement differently- more varied projects, cross-functional and horizontal opportunities etc. Organizations must create career avenues to feed these diverse aspirations. For example, virtual work opens up new opportunities regardless of location, thanks to technology-led collaborative tools and processes.
- Making the most of autonomy: Progressive organizations have started realizing that each employee’s anchor for productivity may be different, and are looking at how flexible they can be to anchor high performance. The augmented workforce looks at “time to work” in a new light, preferring autonomy and trust rather than mere “hours worked” or “physical presence at the workplace”. Flexibility in terms of working from different locations, timings etc. contribute towards a high performing augmented workforce.
- Supporting continuous skilling and learning: The ultimate outcome of a growing augmented workforce is that non-permanent employees will become a norm. As the talent pool diversifies into a contingent workforce, there will be a shift towards building skills and competencies rather than hiring for pedigreed formal degrees.
This augmented workforce would be niche in their competencies and would be hired with a specific aim to add incremental value to organizations. When it comes to the augmented workforce, the focus will be more on the outcome-reassurance than on results.
Impact on Business and People
A PwC survey states that 12% of jobs are getting replaced, 13% of jobs are getting created, and 75% of jobs are getting enhanced. This is sure to impact peoples’ work lives and professional endeavors.
Technology-led intelligence will help businesses, compare benchmarks, and understand where they stand. Organizations are also recognizing that there are other elements that need to change at a similar pace as the changing technology. Opportunities must evolve. For example, earlier, people in large cities used to be the recipients of emerging technologies. Today, these transitions are impacting people in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities, through flexible working outsourcing engagements.
The influx of emerging technology is redefining the rules of employee engagement and advancement. This is where the top leaders, especially HR, play a critical role. With the blurring of work and personal boundaries due to anytime-anywhere working, HR will focus on the science of Human Capital.
The focus will be on building the right capabilities, and the right climate for sustainability. This is the real impact of rapid technological transformation, and organizations have to keep pace with these changes by using technology itself to better understand the augmented workforce. This is an extensive transformation exercise at all levels- infrastructure, technology, processes, systems, and most importantly the people themselves.