By : Omar Bangash
The impact of automation on employment is inevitable. Long gone are the days when you could get a position at a company, do the exact same job for 30 years and retire.
Like anything, times change. And with the pace of technology and innovation, more and more positions are being automated. This means companies can now do more with less people.
Think back to Henry Ford’s moving assembly line where workers continuously executed simple, repetitive tasks. Now, many carmakers utilize robotic machinery to efficiently automate much of those processes.
Automation can take many forms and is impacting every profession, from an automatic email response after signing up for a company’s newsletter to vehicles that parallel park for you.
Take bank tellers, for example. There used to be a time when you could only conduct financial transactions via these professionals. With the creation of automatic teller machines (ATMs), the demand for bank tellers has greatly decreased.
It may sound scary, but there’s no need to panic. When implemented well, automation frees humans from many routine and mundane tasks, so we can focus on more complex and creative opportunities.
As a result, the shift in employment for many has been massive. Companies that embrace automation can benefit from decreased costs, improved productivity and huge time savings.
These changes can make employees (and employers) feel threatened or anxious and can lower morale. However, with a sound plan and clear communication, you can lead your staff to feel comfortable and confident in this automated world.
Just because there’s a rise in automation doesn’t mean employees aren’t needed or valued. The opposite is true.
To stay a few steps ahead of the game, I think employee must spend some time thinking about the impact automation may or may not have on their roles and also, explore ways to strengthen their knowledge, learn new skills and help others at the same time.
Here are also some ways employees can face increasing technological development that threatens their positions.
Ø Pinpoint repetitive tasks that may be automated
Before you can make yourself an indispensable employee, you need to think about daily, routine tasks that could be more efficiently done by computer software. For example:
- Answering customer questions – When the majority of your responsibilities involve providing customer support, a chatbot – a computer program that simulates human conversation – could take over the bulk of your duties.
- Scheduling meetings – If you’re tasked with constantly juggling meetings for multiple team members, automation could absorb this responsibility. There’s now technology that will schedule, cancel and reschedule meetings for you instead.
- Collecting data – Do you spend a lot of your day trying to collect data from stakeholders, employees, etc.? Software can simplify this task, resulting in more time saved and less human errors.
When you begin identifying repetitive tasks ahead of time, you’re less likely to be in shock if a certain role or function becomes automated. Plus, you can begin thinking of other things you can do to add value to your position.
Ø Identify what is unlikely to be automated
There are some tasks that require a human touch no matter what, such as:
- Creative functions – Designers, copywriters, artists and more employ creative thinking in order to come up with ideas. Of course these roles incorporate technology to get the job done, but the creative juices needed to produce that perfect concept or piece of art can’t be done by robots.
- Human-element roles – Human resources managers definitely lean on technology to recruit ideal candidates. However, responsibilities such as motivating and managing employees won’t be automated away.
- Project coordination – The amount of work that goes into coordinating a large project requires lots of organization and human expertise. While software can play a huge role in relieving project managers of routine tasks, as well as increasing efficiency and improving accuracy, the position can’t become 100 percent automated.
Recognizing the types of responsibilities that are unlikely to become automated can provide a bit of peace and help you better gauge the other areas where you may need to up your skills.
Ø Embrace automation
To truly become an essential employee companies just can’t do without, consider embracing automation. Instead of letting automation intimidate you, let it augment and improve your existing processes.
Also, educate yourself on all things automation as they relate to your field. For example, if you’re in the technical arena, you may consider learning to code. Or, maybe conduct some research regarding the latest technology in your industry that could help you, as well as team members, perform duties more efficiently.
Bottom line – in this world of automation, it’s extremely beneficial to continue learning and updating your skills. This way, you expand your knowledge and growth, making you a long-term asset.