What Technology Can Teach Us About The Employees Of The Future

What if you could hire Google as an employee—or even your Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)? Though artificial intelligence (AI) is in its early phases, the real allure is not that it could, someday, be just like a human being, but that it could be more than a human. After all, even the smartest person in your company doesn’t have the wealth of information that Google does, all available in a microsecond.

While humankind will likely never reach the speed or accuracy of AI in performing certain tasks, employees of the future will need to function in similar ways. They will need to pull from a broad range of knowledge to find the right answers, deliver results quickly, offer a variety of solutions to a single problem, be adaptable, consider the whole market or subject before offering a suggestion, and be consistent in their performance.

Is this too much to ask? Not if they rely on technology to help. And in many ways, the capabilities of today’s technology provide a glimpse of the traits required in tomorrow’s best leaders and employees.

Technology: The Ultimate In Agility

The capabilities of today’s emerging technologies offer organizations a model of the traits employees of the future will need to succeed—and agility sits at the top of the list. No one expects human employees to have the same speed as AI algorithms. But when employees have the agility that enables them to adapt quickly to new advancements, they can leverage new technology to their own benefit, as well as their employer’s.

Artificial Intelligence and Changing Expectations

Often when we talk about the benefits AI offers businesses, employees start to, quite understandably, become concerned about their job security. AI does have a lot of value for businesses, but the robots aren’t coming to take everyone’s job. AI is, however, changing the expectations of employers and the capabilities that organizations will look for in their employees and leaders.

For example, if you’ve ever used Apple’s Siri to pull up a list of recommendations for a restaurant or coffee shop near you, you’ve taken advantage of AI’s ability to quickly deliver a variety of answers to a query.

Human employees of the future will need to be able to do much the same thing in response to customer or employer requests. Even—especially—when requests get more complex than just the best place to get a latte and doughnut, employees of the future will need to sift quickly through relevant information from a variety of sources to present a number of different possible solutions. After all, we have Google, Siri, and Alexa for the simple stuff; human employees will need to fill in where technology falls short, combining their own intuition and experience with the vast database of knowledge available to find answers.

Keeping Pace With Technology

In an increasingly technological global economy, human employees and business leaders must keep pace with advancing technology. But this has gone without saying for quite some time. More importantly, mid-to-late 21st century employees will need to adapt quickly to new developments, recognize potential digital disruptions before they take place, and adopt technology trends with lightning speed. Anyone who is not an early adopter need not apply for the most competitive positions. Even finding the best jobs will require using the latest technology, and those who prove to be on the bleeding edge of social media, search, communications, collaboration, and productivity tools will catch the attention of prospective employers.

Human Employees Vs. Digital Assistants

Digital assistants have already changed the way business leaders and employees interact with AI technology. Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, the AI residing in the Echo device, are probably the most well-known examples, but there are others as well. While digital assistants don’t seem likely to replace human employees completely, human employees of the future will need to find synergy with digital assistants to maximize their productivity.

What Will Employees Need And Want?

In considering what businesses will look for in the employee of the future, we should also think about what will attract the most qualified employees to businesses. Millennials will make up a significant chunk of the workforce for some time, and the generation coming behind them, generation Z, is already even more technologically tuned in. Organizations need to be prepared to meet the needs and expectations of this new generation of workers to continue to attract top talent.

Like the millennials before them, these employees will want flexibility from their employers to learn—and work—on the go. They expect that training and development will be tailored to their needs and learning styles. This generation of people, who grew up learning in computer labs, taking tests on computers, and researching on their tablets, will want an experience tailored to their needs and their physical locations—wherever they might be.

They’re also social learners, and will want to collaborate in the work place to forge connections, share ideas, and grow both personally and professionally. Fortunately, the workplace of the future will be uniquely suited to meet these needs, with AI technology guiding the way.

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Can Machine Learning Make HR Better?

Are you familiar with deep learning? Deep learning describes the ability for artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to learn from our behavior using brain-like structures called neural networks, and it’s changing the field of human resources in significant ways.

AI programs can predict outcomes based on past experiences fed into the program. Because AI can recognize patterns and analyze data at light speed, it can help HR directors make decisions with greater confidence.  From finding and recruiting prospects to streamlining employee assessment processes, machine learning and AI can make it easier for HR executives to do their jobs better—and today’s technology is only the beginning.

Here are just a few ways AI can work with the best HR professionals to better manage data-heavy tasks, spot top talent in unlikely places, and even improve employee satisfaction to reduce turnover rates.

1. Algorithms can help find the right job candidates from a nearly endless pool of possibilities. Finding and recruiting candidates takes time and resources. From using headhunters to scouring social media, the best candidates don’t always come to you—you have to seek them out. AI can accomplish the time- and labor-intensive task of searching online resumes, websites, and social networks to find the best candidates.

2. AI can assess candidates to find the best job position for them. AI can detect patterns faster and with a greater degree of accuracy than human beings can. Programs can correlate a candidates’ past experiences and relevant skills to determine where they might fit best in the company—and it may not be where you expect.

3. Evaluate more candidates faster with machine learning. Combing through piles of resumes takes a lot of time—and it’s time that HR executives might better spend on HR strategy, improving company morale, or other job functions that require a human touch. Machine learning excels at statistical analysis and pattern recognition. AI programs can evaluate resumes of successful employees and identify new candidates with similar traits and experience.

When it comes time for in-person or video interviews, AI can also detect body language patterns and evaluate aspects such as word choice and inflection to find the best new hires.

4. Improve employee satisfaction through regular, unbiased performance reviews aided by AI. One of the challenges during performance reviews is for the reviewer to remain impartial. AI algorithms could evaluate performance data without any personal bias toward or against a candidate.

AI can also examine past performance trends of individuals, teams, or departments and predict future outcomes. This information can give HR directors insight into the steps to take to improve performance or morale when the AI software spots a potential problem.

5. Reduce employee turnover through more effective hiring techniques. An often-cited Harvard Business Review study notes that 80 percent of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions. This figure hasn’t seemed to improve much since the study was done in 2007—with no more recent statistics available—but AI could soon change that.

AI can also help HR executives avoid the second most common reason for new employee turnover: a bad skills match. AI programs have unique capabilities to analyze past experiences outlined on a resume, as well as personality traits revealed during the interview process, and compare this data to that of successful workers in a given position, helping HR executives match the best talent to the right job.

So, Will AI Take Over HR?

AI and machine learning can already take over many of those repetitive HR tasks in which human employees are more likely to make errors or to introduce personal bias. AI can analyze data and make predictions faster and with a greater degree of accuracy. With AI performing many of these rote tasks, it frees up HR executives of the future to focus on the “human” elements of their job. While it’s highly unlikely AI will take over HR, its comprehensive capabilities will undoubtedly contribute to the continuing evolution of the job title.

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