Employers unprepared for expected surge in automation

Employers unprepared for expected surge in automation


A survey by Willis Towers Watson reveals that work being done by automation is set to almost double in the next three years. The survey also identifies that few companies or their HR functions are prepared to deal with the organisational changes this will necessitate.

More than 900 companies took part in the Global Future of Work Survey. They were asked about automation in the workplace, including AI and robotics, and how they would address organisational change that includes less reliance on full-time employees and increasing reliance on contingent talent.  

Companies anticipate that 22% of work will be automated, compared to a current figure of 12% and a figure of 7% three years ago.

Less than 7% said that their HR functions are fully prepared for the changes that digitisation will bring. Around one third say they are somewhat prepared.

31% aim to address talent deficits through workforce planning, while 32% have identified emerging skills. 29% are matching talent to the new work requirements and 27% aim to enable careers based on a more agile, flattened organisational structure.

Almost half said it’s likely they would need fewer employees in the next 3 years, with 27% saying that for them that is already the case.

The percentage of employers automating work and seeing an increase in skills requirements is expected to rise sharply from 27% to 45% over the coming 3 years. 19% say that automation is already driving them to use more free agents or contractors.

“UK companies clearly see work automation gaining momentum, with little signs of slowing down anytime soon,” said George Zarkadakis, Digital Lead for Willis Towers Watson’s Talent and Rewards practice. “The implications for HR and talent strategies are immediate. On one hand, the growing use of AI, robotics, free agent workers, contractors, consultants and part-time employees brings with it HR challenges that only few organisations are prepared to tackle. On the other hand, many companies recognise the need for breakthrough and innovative approaches — and are reinventing work and how talent and skills combine.

“Management and leadership development will be a critical issue for companies of all sizes over the next three years. We know strong leadership is a key driver of employee engagement and retention. But in the face of rapidly changing work automation, companies will need to develop leaders and managers who can orchestrate a radically different work ecosystem while keeping all of the talent in their workplaces fully engaged.”


Thursday, 15 March 2018

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