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Adapting Your Job to an Automated World

Updated: 03 Aug 2016


The automation of the workforce will impact the world of work, but there is no reason to worry about your job since human roles will evolve alongside technological change, says recruiting experts Hays in the latest edition of its Hays Journal.

The introduction of robotics into the workplace has already begun; it can be seen in workplaces as diverse as assembly lines in manufacturing plants to the introduction of self-service checkouts in supermarkets, but with this change comes an opportunity to create and adapt existing jobs as the workforce evolves.

“There have been a number of headlines recently about the impact robotics is expected to have on the workforce”, says Simon Lance, Managing Director for Hays in China. “Some of the more dramatic news stories have claimed that many jobs will be lost, including a report by Deloitte and the University of Oxford which claimed 10 million jobs would be lost to robots or computers within the next two decades.

“But what many overlook is the fact that new roles will be created as a result of new technology. It’s equally important to remember that there is no substitute for the human touch. Soft skills are incredibly important and are not to be underestimated in business.”

Rather than destroy jobs, technology can be expected to instead change roles, allowing workers to focus on other key areas of their work. In some cases, people will need to retrain for their evolving roles, so rather than being displaced by technology they will gain new skills. This is where HR functions will have a key role in ensuring that the human skills at their disposal are maximised.

“There are so many skills that humans have that robots simply cannot learn,” adds Simon. “For instance, a robot will never be an innovative and collaborative problem solver that can come up with and share creative ideas. Empathy and human instinct are crucial to a lot of roles too, and again these are not programmable; you cannot automate human emotion.”

Hays also suggests we consider that technology will ultimately be used to increase productivity by completing tasks that are laborious to humans and it is much more efficient at, such as searching documents. Businesses will implement technology where it has the most value and will take cost into consideration, only automating parts of the process where it makes business sense.

“Rather than being feared, technology should be seen as a tool that will enable us all to work smarter in our roles,” concludes Simon. “It should be seen much more as an enabler, helping us to be more efficient.”

This issue is explored further in the latest Hays Journal, the recruiter’s bi-annual magazine on the world of HR and recruitment.

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About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 31 December 2015 the Group employed 9,420 staff operating from 248 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2015:

– the Group reported net fees of £764.2 million and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £164.1 million;
– the Group placed around 63,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 200,000 people into temporary assignments;
– 23% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific, 41% in Continental Europe & RoW (CERoW) and 36% in the United Kingdom & Ireland;
– the temporary placement business represented 58% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 42% of net fees;
– Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA.

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