AI in the workplace poses a challenge for many HR directors. This article presents three strategies to help you deal with the impact of AI.
Navigating the Diverse and Uncertain Landscape of AI’s Impact on Jobs and the Workforce
AI-powered automation is not a game where a single outcome (either an apocalypse of massive job losses or a utopia where all lost jobs are replaced) dominates. While automation of additional jobs is likely to continue, new jobs will also be created, and some may remain unchanged or undergo minimal changes as AI develops.
None of these scenarios will dominate, despite what their advocates argue. They are all evolving simultaneously, and their effects on work will vary over time. We can see this happening as AI-powered sensors displace factory maintenance workers, chatbots free up customer support agents to handle more complex tasks, and companies create new roles for a changing workplace..
HR leaders will need to be prepared to deal with each scenario, that may unfold within their organizations. They will have their hands full with the impacts on people and their employment. “What’s happening is not about losing jobs or creating jobs but rather that work will change,” says Hannah Berkers, a senior researcher with the Professorship of Corporate Governance and Leadership at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, who researches the role of robotization in work design.
Artificial intelligence is already causing more significant changes in work than any previous technology. Machines used to simply follow rules set by humans. Now, intelligent machines are emerging that can think and act on their own based on what they learn in ways that are unpredictable to their human creators. They will surprise us with what they are capable of doing.
While humans will continue to have control, HR leaders will need to think about AI differently than past technologies – not just as a sophisticated tool, but as a member of the workforce with skills and abilities that are equally important to the company’s talent strategy as any individual employee.
Although it is not possible to know exactly how AI will impact the workforce, three key scenarios are currently developing simultaneously.
Scenario 1: Job erosion
According to the World Economic Forum, automation through artificial intelligence (AI) could lead to the displacement of over one billion jobs worldwide in the next decade. This erosion of jobs refers to occupations that either disappear or require significantly less human involvement, control, and discretion. It is estimated that approximately a quarter of the workforce could be affected.
Scenario 2: Augmented work
Instead of rendering human jobs obsolete, artificial intelligence will assist many people in working faster and more efficiently. While intelligent machines can operate at record speeds and with the highest accuracy, they have not yet learned to empathize with customers, collaborate with colleagues, or think creatively – essential human skills.
Scenario 3: Job Creation
According to Greg Vert, a senior manager at Deloitte Consulting, the increasing adoption of AI will require a substantial workforce to develop and maintain the code. Simultaneously, it will give rise to new job categories. For instance, as AI integrates with autonomous vehicles, Canada’s Information and Communications Technology Council highlights the emergence of roles like “smart mobility managers” skilled in constructing intelligent transportation systems and “autonomous vehicle scientists” responsible for ensuring the safety and optimal functioning of self-driving vehicles in unfamiliar environments.
While HR leaders cannot predict precisely how these three scenarios will unfold within their companies, they should develop a solid understanding of how AI will transform work in their organizations. They need to decide how to respond to ensure that work remains focused on people rather than machines once each scenario unfolds.