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Welcoming the Industry 4.0: How to Prepare the Workforce for Automation

March 15, 2018

The rise of the robots is no longer a story of fiction – it is already here. But how prepared are you for the rapid expansion of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) technology at the workplace?

The advancements of technology have dramatically changed the way people live their everyday life, including in the workplace. Thanks to the AI-enabled machines, menial, boring, and time-consuming tasks now can be done more efficiently without sacrificing the results. No wonder, more and more companies today are upgrading their technology to keep up with the digital transformation. While we might have heard all good things about involving the robots in the office, but what’s the catch? What does it imply to the future of workforce?

Among the biggest woes coming from automation is that it will take over human jobs. As the sophisticated technology is able to do the tasks faster, produce higher and more accurate results with cheaper cost than human does, many predict that it will risk particular job roles.  A study commenced by Deloitte projected that in the next seven years, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will replace 16 percent of current workforce roles. The study found that while 32 percent of companies are prepared for RPA’s technology implications, only 12 percent are actually prepared for the people implications.

Some companies have prepared the plan of automation process which will implicate robot and AI, but only half of them understand how the human workforce can adapt with this new kind of employees. Owing to this reason, it is crucial to create an environment where human and machine can work hand-in-hand. Then the question remains: how do you prepare the workforce for the changing business landscape?

Here’s how:

See also: Promoting Wellbeing: Tips to Manage Employees’ Mental Health in the Workplace 

Leadership transition

Robot cannot work by itself. That being said, automation planning will need leaders who are adaptable with rapid development of new technology. When you plan to automate certain roles in your workplace, you have to plan about new leadership role at the same time. You can start by checking your employees’ performance records and assessing their future potentials to decide if they will stay or leave the team. When you find someone have leadership potential, you can encourage and facilitate them with necessary trainings and mentorship to be the future leader.

In choosing the candidates, you must not only see the required skills and expertise, but also the age factor as you will need them to work for long-term. Not to mention, the new leader will be the first generation to determine the success or failure of your automation strategy. Owing to this reason, the candidates must be skillful, agile, innovative and didactic.

Culture adaptation

When adopting the RPA in your office, it means that the company should modify the organisation’s value and culture well. This transition process needs a team which trusts technology and have good adaptation skills to work with the machines. Replacing some parts of your workforce with automation could mean that your employees have to collaborate with soulless robots everyday. They will spend most of their working hours in front of computers or other sophisticated devices with minimum human interaction. Given that such condition could affect their mental beings, employer needs to consider about comfort and flexibility in the workplace as well.

Transparent transition

The employees should know how the RPA will be implemented in the workplace and how it will affect their work cycle in the. They must know how RPA will change their roles or even replace them altogether. In this case, the company has to communicate openly with the employees about the automation planning, such that the workforce know the future of their career in the organisation. As a leader, you must provide clear answer when the employee asks about how they will survive amidst the automation era.

Next read: How to Conduct Performance Review that Actually Motivates Employees

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