No one can say with certainty what the future of work will look like. But many elements are already in place, and employers should think long and hard about how their workplace will evolve as the “future” becomes the present.
Of course, technological advances will play a big role in the coming months and years. But, as in the recent past, these advances can disrupt a company’s operations as much as they might benefit them. That’s why engaging now in strategic thought about what’s to come just makes good business sense.
One effective place to start is by preparing your employees for anticipated changes. Here are some tips:
Explore how AI will affect your workplace.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer some theoretical concept of the future. It’s already here—in everything from business visualization tools and smart personal assistants (think Siri) to automated business processes, security surveillance, and sales and business forecasting.
Where do employees fit in? It’s anticipated that many more job-related tasks will become automated in the next couple of decades. As a result, Forbes notes, “workers will focus on projects that require qualities and skills unique to humans: creativity, complex problem-solving, and critical thinking.”
Get up to speed with the gig economy.
Businesses are increasingly outsourcing various tasks to freelancers and other specialty contractors. The future workforce will very likely include some combination of in-house employees and contract workers. Look for ways to introduce more of this hybrid workflow process into your culture, while also preparing your team to expect changes in this area. The most successful businesses will be those that are committed to having these different teams work smoothly together.
Make employee engagement a top priority.
Each member of your team “represents an investment and asset to your business.” That’s likely to be as true tomorrow as it is today, so keeping your employees actively engaged should be a key part of your overall retention strategy. Explore opportunities to:
- Promote career advancement within the organization.
- Publicly acknowledge employee contributions.
- Offer a generous benefits and compensation package.
Your talented employees want to contribute to the company’s growth and be appreciated for their efforts.
Leverage coaching and feedback to build confidence and productivity.
As new challenges emerge, your employees need to be functioning at the highest level possible. Some of that responsibility rests with them, of course, but in many respects, it’s up to employers and their managers to see that striving for excellence is consistently supported. If your managers provide constructive feedback on a regular basis, look for ways to “up the ante,” with more emphasis on preparing for the future. If they aren’t doing so now, implement an ongoing process of coaching so your culture is better prepared for what lies ahead.
Provide opportunities for continuous learning.
The training employees get today will strengthen their abilities to cope with future issues and shifts in the workplace environment. As HR Technologist notes, “Soft skills—such as critical thinking, empathy, negotiation, and creativity—are seen as increasingly important, because they are the skills that robots and automation can’t replicate.” It’s likely there are other business operations that are more “employee-centric” (such as customer service) and that’s where you can focus training and development within the company.
To learn more about challenges that lie ahead, take part in our free TAB Boss Webinar, “How to Survive in an Automated World.” This intriguing presentation explores ways to adapt your business to new market realities and leverage them to your advantage, while also exploring the future of employer/employee relationships. Sign up today!