The general consensus is clear: automation is poised to transform (or disrupt, if you prefer) present work arrangements in profound ways. Where the jury's still out is just how many jobs will be lost to automation.
One artificial intelligence expert forecasted that 40 percent of the world's jobs could be replaced by robots in 15 years. Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum predicted that robots will displace 75 million jobs globally by 2022, simultaneously creating 133 million new ones. What seems clear is that all of the numbers, even the most optimistic, suggest that unemployment risks exist and extensive retraining, re-skilling and job movement will be required in a world of work where automation plays a key role.
I believe that current trends in training by both governments and employers are inadequate to cope with the coming labor market dislocations. Employers should focus on training, investing in human capital and taking responsibility for the changes coming our way in order to remain relevant and reap the benefits that both people and technology have to offer—together.
1) Increase Your Training Efforts—And Implore Buy-In From the Public Sector
A February 2019 Brookings report shows that while in 1996 employers paid for 19.4 percent of workers' formal training, a comparable figure in 2008 was 11.2 percent—a decline of 42 percent in just 12 years. If training is going to help with the transition to a more automated workplace, long-standing trends toward less training will need to change.
That same Brookings report also compared what the United States government spends on "active labor market policies" that train people and match them to jobs to what other industrialized countries spend. The U.S. ranked 31 out of 32 total countries evaluated for public expenditure on labor market policies as a proportion of GDP. And between 1985 and 2015, U.S. government cut labor market spending in half. The implication? Our government needs to invest more in training, job matching and other efforts that help labor markets work more effectively.
An administration that relies on employees to acquire training and transition to new occupations on their own almost certainly will leave too many people in dire straits. Just as government has tried to mitigate the effects of jobs lost to foreign trade, public policy should seek to mute the economic effects of automation through training and other policies.
2) Focus on Human Sustainability
Employers should embrace the issue of human sustainability and stewardship of the work environment with the same vigor they've brought to environmental sustainability—and for many of the same reasons. Just as companies today tout their physical environmental bona fides, in the future they may want (or need) to tout their human sustainability accomplishments. Things like high retention rates and internal growth are all things for companies to highlight. We see this already in competition for good ratings on sites like Glassdoor and in rankings like those put out by Great Place to Work.
Despite this, over the past decade I've seen the relationship between companies and their employees become much more transactional. And that will need to change if companies are to embrace the task of getting their people ready for coming workplace transitions and dislocations.
Multi-year careers at one company have transitioned to jobs of shorter duration—"gigs." With limited attachment between employers and employees, neither party has an interest in investing in the relationship, which provides one explanation for why training has declined in the U.S. and is lower here than in countries with less "flexible" labor markets. This is a good time for companies to recognize the trend and reinvest in their people through training.
3) Take Responsibility for AI and Employees
If employers don't accept some responsibility for helping their workforce adjust to a world with more automation and artificial intelligence, employees will likely falter, but many companies have no intention of providing them a lifeline. Technology columnist Kevin Roose's observations of discussions at the recent World Economic Forum meetings are instructive of the attitude of the moment: "In public, many executives wring their hands over the negative consequences that artificial intelligence and automation could have for workers. But in private meetings, these executives tell a different story: They are racing to automate their own work forces with little regard for the impact on workers."
Companies face the problem of collective action—few firms want to be the only ones to provide training while other firms free-ride on those efforts. Therefore, it may fall to industry associations, local associations of businesses and national organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers to promulgate and possibly enforce guidelines for retraining and upskilling employees.
It's almost impossible to predict what will happen as automation and artificial intelligence increasingly penetrate workplaces. But it seems fair to forecast that it will not be possible for companies—or governments—to simply continue on the same path. The labor market transformations and their economic consequences are simply too large to believe that continuing a relatively hands-off, laissez-faire approach will be politically or economically viable.
Photo: Creative Commons
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4 Ways to Expand Your Social Media Recruiting Strategy
Social media is ubiquitous, and companies are using it in many different and innovative ways for enhancing their sales, marketing and customer services. So why is it then that many HR departments still fail to see social media as more than a job board? Outside of the office, the same HR people happily engage with friends on Facebook, share news and ideas on Twitter, look at pictures on Instagram and send snaps on Snapchat. But when they put their work hat on they seemingly forget why they use social in the way they (and hundreds of millions of other users) do every day, and resort back to just posting jobs (in a boring way) on social media! Of course there is nothing wrong with job posting, and it's often an effective approach to reaching an audience, but not all of the time. According to LinkedIn, only 12 percent of the working population are actively seeking new employment. So, if all you do is post jobs on your LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook page, you are consciously ignoring the other 88 percent of the working population who might be interested in hearing more about your company in general. Creating and sharing interesting content about your company such as employee stories or volunteer days help bring your employer brand to life. It might even trigger people to reach out to you and find out more about your job opportunities. In truth, mixing up your social media feeds with a variety of content will provide more depth and candidate engagement. Here are four ways to expand your social media strategy and engage with new potential candidates. 1) Candidate Sourcing With people using an average of more than five social networks, sourcing talent via social media makes absolute sense. Branch out from just using LinkedIn and look to sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to search for and engage with prospective talent. Try search tools like Followerwonk to search Twitter bios for keywords and job titles, a clever Chrome browser extension called Intelligence Search that easily searches Facebook and using the search bar at the top of Google+. They will help you identify new talent. If you are looking to build social media pipelines then try Hello Talent. It is a great free tool that allows you to build talent pipelines from many different social networks by using a browser extension. 2) Competitor Monitoring Social media is a fantastic source of information and data. By using tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, you can monitor the social media activity of your competitors. Both of these tools allow you to set up search columns, where you can enter things like keywords, hashtags, Twitter names and track when any of these are mentioned on sites such as Twitter. You can use the interact or use the insights accordingly. 3) Resources for Candidates Consider your Facebook page (or Twitter channel) as a real-time customer services channel for you to engage and communicate with both new and existing candidates in the recruitment process. Provide links to your social media pages to candidates at all stages in the process and encourage them to visit the pages and ask questions about any part of the process. You can also share useful information about working for the company, including locations, employees and other relevant news. 4) Live Recruitment Events Not everyone can attend the many recruitment events happening every month. But by using social media like Twitter, Facebook Live, Instagram and Snapchat, you can easily provide live commentary for these events you attend or host. Real-time video via Facebook Live and interaction via Twitter chats are superb examples of ways to regularly engage with a live audience of potential candidates. With social media firmly established in our working lives, I question how much more evidence HR departments will need to fully embrace this "new" form of candidate engagement. Photo: Twenty20
Cartoon Coffee Break: Unconventional Recruiting
Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. Missed the Recruiting Trends conference? From the state of recruiting automation adoption, to the role that the human element still plays in recruiting, our recap covers everything you need to know. Header photo: Creative Commons
The Latest Office Benefit Is Tackling Student Debt
Modern companies are more than just employers — increasingly, they are also gyms, cafeterias and even laundromats. As perks like yoga class, free lunch and complimentary dry cleaning become the norm, companies continue to push the boundaries on ways to attract and retain top talent by providing much more than a paycheck to employees. The latest in the slew of new workplace benefits? Student loan assistance. In April, Chegg partnered with Tuition.io to give full-time employees extra cash for student loan reduction. Then in September, consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers announced it would provide up to $1,200 to help employees pay off loans annually. As a benefit, student loan assistance programs are certainly still in their infancy— one survey found that only 3 percent of companies offer such a benefit. But experts say that may soon change as companies seek to differentiate themselves in a competitive hiring environment. "We think student loan benefits are poised to be the next big benefit; similar to what 401(k) matching was when it was first introduced," says Dana Rosenberg, who leads employer and affinity group partnerships at Earnest, a lender that offers student loan refinancing and works with companies to create loan pay-down programs. The Burden of Student Debt Such programs could be extremely attractive to debt-laden Millennials. Around 40 million Americans collectively carry $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, and the graduating class of 2015 was the most indebted class in history with an average debt of $35,000 (a superlative they won't hold for long come May 2016.) For employers looking to adjust benefits to correspond to the changing demographics of their employee base, student loan programs hit the mark. "In 2016, our employees will be 80 percent millennials, and we also hire close to 11,000 employees directly out of school each year," says Terri McClements, Washington Metro managing partner of PwC. With student debt often preventing young people from participating in 401(k) plans and reaching traditional life milestones, the benefit could potentially make a large impact on employees' financial and personal well-being. A study from the American Student Association found that 73 percent of people with student loans reported putting off saving for retirement or other investments due to their debt, 75 percent reported delaying a home purchase and 27 percent reported it was difficult to buy daily necessities. "Student loans can be a very stressful thing to deal with, so if we can give our employees peace of mind, that's great," says Caroline Gennaro, corporate communications manager at Chegg. The Allure for Employers Student debt assistance programs aren't just attractive to employees, either. Rosenberg says there are significant benefits for the organizations that offer them as well. "Employers that offer programs to help their employees get out from under their debt load are seeing big benefits: increased retention, more competitive recruiting and, perhaps most importantly, happier employees who have additional cash flow to put towards their life goals," Rosenberg explains. Rosenberg says happier employees are more engaged employees, who tend to be more productive. Studies show that companies with high employee engagement experience lower turnover and have double the rate of organizational success than their less-engaged counterparts. Student loan benefit programs may also lead to a more diverse workforce, attracting employees whose financial backgrounds meant they had to take on more debt for their education. "Diversity and inclusion are also very important to us, so the ability to offer this benefit can help minorities who come out of school with a higher debt burden," says McClements. A Promising Response Companies say the response to their student loan assistance programs have been overwhelmingly positive. Chegg has had more than 80 people sign up since they started their program this summer, and they've already eliminated roughly 86 years of collective loan repayments for their employees. Companies are also finding these programs are a way to differentiate themselves from organizations that may offer more generic benefits. "As a company in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are always looking to attract the best and brightest in the industry, and this benefit is a big draw," says Gennaro. Photo: Shutterstock