Real World Futures

The future is coming - but when?

Date: 02 March 2018

Only one in eight human resources professionals surveyed by their member organisation sees threats to the future workplace in the next decade.

And almost half of them are apprehensive or unsure about the future challenges in their own work when the future arrives.

The surprising result is contained in the Australian Human Resources Institute submission to a current Senate Future of Work inquiry. It flies in the face of most research which predicts significant changes to the workplace by 2030.

It is included in the upcoming Real World Futures report on the state of the debate on future work, to be released in advance exclusively to attendees of next week's Real World Conversation on the future of work.

Despite the scepticism of its members, the institute says there are many signs that the “future” has arrived.

“There are signs that the future is already upon us and is disturbing the sense of order we have become used to,” its submission says.

“Robotics has already changed the face of sectors such as manufacturing, but we don’t have to look far to see other examples of business models thrown into disarray, the relatively sudden emergence of brands such as Amazon and Uber being two potent examples.”

The full survey of members included these findings:

96% see emerging technologies as an opportunity rather than a threat;

79% believe emerging technologies will improve processes and contribute to productivity;

59% believe fewer than 10% of human jobs in their organisation will be replaced by emerging technologies;

On the workforce in general, 51% do not expect emerging technologies to replace many jobs in the future;

Of the jobs that are replaced by technology, 78% expect the technology will be augmented with a human presence (through job re-design);

62% believe today’s workforce planners are capable of planning for a future workforce;

87% are confident they personally will be able to acquire skills and knowledge to meet future work challenges (via further study);

70% disagree that the role of HR will diminish with the impact of new technology;

63% say they are preparing to focus on the parts of their job that rely on human skills (because other parts of their job can be replaced by new technologies).

But 34% believe robotics and AI will create more jobs than they replace and 43% believe the gig economy will be an offshoot of emerging technologies with a negative impact on performance, customer service, culture and ethical behaviour.

“Since the pathological corporate behaviours that revealed themselves leading up to and contributing to the global financial crisis of 2008, these four attributes when measuring organisational value are regarded as critical to both profitability and sustainability.

“With that in mind, policy makers in business and law makers in government may well be advised to turn their minds to the potential impacts of a gig economy on the nature of work and workplaces, and the potential impacts on service expectations of consumers.

“ In addition, those drafting policy might be mindful of the wider social consequences of a growing workforce in a gig economy that may not enjoy the benefits that employees have come to expect with regard to relative security of employment, access to benefits such as paid leave, and the potential to qualify for loans and mortgages.”

Content sourced from QUT News Web Service.

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