Future of Work

Automation, social inequity, & HR

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

Bersin & Deloitte in their 2017 Global Human Capital Trends Report show the dizzying pace at which technology is advancing, and the how businesses have for most part failed to translate this into productivity. They posit that HR has a unique role to play in helping organizations and systems adapt to these fast emerging landscapes. I would like to take that a step further.

Pace of technological change is far outpacing business capabilities and public policy.
Technological change far outpacing our capability to extract value from it.

​Not only business but societies have, for most part, been unable to capitalize on the promise of technology. We live in this strange world where we have the tools to solve some of our most tenacious challenges, but our inability to evolve our social and political systems is preventing us from leveraging them at scale. The income gap between high and low income groups has widened globally. And to add insult to injury, the latest advances in AI and robotics will likely wipe out more lower income jobs in the coming decade.

So what does HR have to do with any of this? I believe that in order to be leaders and participating citizens of this messy and fast changing world we need to master contradictory forces and skills. Be technologically adept, learning agile, and simultaneously compassionate and committed to the well-being and growth of those around us. Given the social outcomes of our current more laissez faire approach, what choice do we have?

The wealth gap between upper and middle-income families is growing.
A growing wealth gap

Organizations are positioned to play a leading role in driving and supporting societal change that brings communities together, rather than leaving people behind; that is centered in a purpose committed to making the world a better place; and actively upgrading not just its own capabilities but also helping their staff master new skills. And HR can and should be a powerful force in making this happen.​We need to radically speed up the rate at which our institutions are reinventing how they think, operate, and interact with their customers, employees, and communities. And as the more jobs move over to complex AIs and robotics, we need to help employees find the creative, intuitive, analytical, and forward looking roles where they can thrive.

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