Take a strategic approach to skilling employees for the roles technology can’t and shouldn’t do.
Digital transformation is emerging as an important means for improving organizational performance. According to a 2020 Deloitte Insights report, it can help companies increase revenue by improving the customer experience or supporting the introduction of new products and services. As such, organizations are investing a lot of time and capital into technology. But new technology, including artificial intelligence, will affect workers and their current roles, and many fear it may lead to them no longer having a job.
What workers don’t often realize is that technology presents organizations with growth opportunities. However, to capitalize on them, employers must not only find the right technological solutions for their business goals, but they also must determine how to revise work procedures to be people-oriented and then focus on reskilling and upskilling talent for the new roles.
The talent development function can prepare talent for the future business environment by diagnosing inconsistencies between employees’ current competency levels and identifying and developing the necessary competencies for the digital transformation.
Transformation step by step
The evolution of technology in the workplace has been a major challenge for TD professionals, who have long been responsible for training employees. Technology is not only changing how people perform their jobs but also creating opportunities for workers to re-create their own work experience. That means redefining TD’s role and function is necessary.
For instance, integrating technology with current job roles to enhance the collaboration of humans and technology is an important task for creating better organizational outcomes and new values. And to create value with human intelligence, it is important to design a process for letting technology take over the tasks that workers don’t have to do. That then enables employees to focus their time and efforts on skills that require their attention.
Employees need to coexist with technology, and TD professionals can help make that happen. Companies must strive to establish TD teams that can quickly enable employees to adapt to digital transformation efforts. For that, I recommend following these four steps:
- Job analysis—evaluate job responsibilities
- Job mapping—distinguish people and technology roles and responsibilities
- Job redesign—restructure roles
- Job creation—realize role expansion and enrichment and maximize employees and resources to unlock new business values
Step 1: Job analysis
Job analysis is a process for specifying the contents and characteristics of segmented work as industrialization progresses. The analysis provides the basic information for managing workers’ roles. You can then use the data for training, career growth, organization development, and performance management.
In environments where digital transformation is happening rapidly, job analysis is increasingly important. Many aspects of jobs are being digitized. As such, it is critical that you define the roles only people can do well—those that are more creative and less systematic—and the roles that technology can automate.
Example: JUVIS, a diet consulting company based in Korea, has been actively promoting talent development well-being. To divide work incorporating AI and established roles, the company used job analysis to finalize common job competencies for all employees. Then it defined the job competencies for each team.
Step 2: Job mapping
Next, use job mapping to break down roles into specific tasks and responsibilities to pinpoint where employees and technology can collaborate effectively. As the work environment gets closer to virtual reality and work becomes more repetitive and automated, technology is more likely to automate roles. Yet, it is difficult to automate jobs that require a high level of cognitive ability, creative thinking, and social intelligence.
Although robots and AI can perform repetitive jobs more efficiently than humans, a 2020 McKinsey study found that employees don’t need to compete against technology. Assign those tasks to technology, and assign roles that require human involvement to employees. Use job mapping to identify the interactions between workers and technology. Analyze the interactions precisely.
According to a 2020 Harvard Business Review article, monotonous and repetitive work can lead to burnout. As such, by delegating repetitive tasks to technology and assigning employees tasks that only humans can perform, you will enhance performance by improving work immersion and also contribute to employees’ well-being.
Example: After JUVIS introduced its AI program, it saw major changes in customer data management and consulting work. For instance, in consulting roles, it automated simple, repetitive tasks such as customer data analysis and the distribution of diet data. It also created new tasks for workers, such as reminding customers to check their AI-produced reports and posting the results of their personal data analysis.
Step 3: Job redesign
Job redesign restructures roles by changing the duties, tasks, and procedures—that is, the elements of a position. You can use the process to improve productivity.
As workplace collaboration with technology increases, employee roles are naturally changing. The job redesign process connects deep thinking about the roles and helps organizations distinguish which roles humans should handle and which technology can take over.
The process increases efficiency and can help employees understand why their roles should change and adapt, making it an important process for transforming talent during the digital transformation.
Employees are organizational assets, and they can learn new skills, which is a key success factor for them and your company. In a fast-changing environment, use the job redesign process to support employee growth and the business strategies, improving organizational performance.
Example: Based on the work environment, staffing, and the degree of employees’ acceptance of AI technology, JUVIS redesigned employees’ roles. Its purpose was to restructure continuously evolving jobs and identify the roles that the integration of AI changed. Workers now have a more challenging and immersive attitude because JUVIS attached greater meaning to their jobs.
Step 4: Job creation
This final step focuses on introducing new jobs that have come about as a result of new technology—roles that have never existed. This is the key factor of the talent transformation process for enhancing added value in the process of digital transformation. The introduction of these new positions helps allay workers’ fears that technology will take over and eliminate their jobs.
Example: JUVIS defined employees’ roles and the roles for AI, and it designed jobs that were applicable to employees and technology in business practices. Doing so enabled the company to enhance existing roles’ efficiency and create new jobs.
In particular, it used an AI program to manage customer reservations, which had a positive impact on customers’ experiences. Then it created a role for consultants to oversee and manage the AI program.
Now the average number of customers a consultant manages has increased from 6.9 to 8.4, and because fewer consultants can now manage more customers, work efficiency has increased. Collaboration between employees and technology has improved organizational productivity.
The implications of digital transformation
In the Future of Jobs Report 2020, the World Economic Forum estimates that “by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines, while 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines, and algorithms.” At a time when skills shifts are happening as a result of role transformations, reskilling and upskilling remain important strategies.
Job analysis is the first step for identifying the skills your organization needs for the future and the skills your employees currently possess. Then by using job mapping to drill down into specific tasks, processes, and knowledge requirements, the TD function can determine necessary reskilling and upskilling needs. That will enable you to focus your TD efforts on the roles the organization should foster via job redesign and job creation. Reskilling and upskilling empowers employees to fill any revised or new roles and reduce organizational skills gaps.
All four steps are critical. If you overlook steps 3 and 4, the strategy is likely to fail because employees may become uncooperative out of fear that automation may deprive them of their jobs. To succeed, you need a strong will to implement all four steps and execute a win-win strategy by sharing the blueprint for the entire process with business leaders before commencing the first step.
Read more from CTDO magazine: Essential talent development content for C-suite leaders.