3 Tactics to Future-Proof Your Employees

John Deal

The bottom line is this: the workforce will change dramatically in the next two decades. Many workers’ skills, even for relatively complex jobs, will be augmented by artificial intelligence (AI) and new forms of automation. Other jobs, while not eliminated, will change, requiring new competencies to stay current with emerging technologies.
 

According to one expert in the field of AI, the impact on the workforce will be massive, with 40 percent of the world’s jobs, across both blue and white collar professions, replaced by robots. Of course, some industries will be hit harder than others by this wave of change. And this begs the question: which jobs will be most affected by these imminent changes?
 

Paul Petrone, who leads LinkedIn's Academic and Government Marketing division, thinks more jobs will change rather than disappear. And workers in those positions will need to adapt to keep pace. Nevertheless, some jobs will be eliminated entirely.
 

The positions most likely to be automated include data entry professionals, tax preparers, processing machine operators, library technicians, insurance underwriters, cargo and freight agents, telemarketers, and title examiners. 

 

What Can Employers Do to Keep Employees' Skills Current?

The onus of future-proofing employees is two-fold. Naturally, some responsibility falls on workers. However, employers should also play a central role in mitigating much of the disruption these changes will bring about. It's important that employers—both for the sake of their employees and to ensure the viability of their businesses—stay current on the latest trends, research, and data regarding the impact of AI and automation.
 

The process begins by knowing which jobs held by employees are most likely to change, the nature of the changes that will occur, which skills will become outdated, and which new skills will replace them. 
 

Here are 3 tactics to help employers ensure their workers continue to have the skills necessary to do their jobs effectively, now and into the future:

 

1.  Conduct Robust Research on Industry Job Trends

To keep your employees' skills up to date, you need to do substantial research into the ways their jobs will change in the future. That means reading journal articles, conducting internet research, working closely with your HR team, continually visiting job boards, digesting relevant posts on social media—and, of course, listening to your employees, who may have keen insights of their own. Focus on hard skills that entail specific, teachable abilities and will most likely be subject to change as a result of automation and other emerging technologies.
 

Based on your research, make a comprehensive list of which jobs are at greatest risk of being eliminated and which will substantially change. For those that will change, include details about the ways they'll change and the new skills your workers will need to learn. For the jobs in greatest jeopardy of going the way of the dinosaur, help workers look for ways they can most effectively transition to new jobs (either with your business or with another).
 

Employers should try to lay out options that are in line with the existing skill set of these employees. These options should include jobs that are in the greatest demand now and in the future—for example, those in healthcare, social assistance, software development, and construction. 
 

2.  Find Out Which Employee Skills are Transferable

Don't assume that all employee skills which will be less relevant in certain jobs will necessarily wind up on the ash heap of history. Many of those skills are transferable to other, similar positions. For example, the ability to effectively manage projects can be passed from one kind of role to another. The same idea applies to skills such as writing and editing, which are valuable assets regardless of industry.
 

Help your employees understand which of their skills need to be augmented with additional training, how they get that training, and how such steps will keep them relevant down the road.
 

3.  Help Your Workers Upgrade Their Job Portfolios

The best gift you can give employees is access to the resources they need to remain employed and employable down the line. You can, for example, assist them by providing specific training they need to stay relevant and valuable to your business. You can also show them how to apply that training to their current jobs and how to continually upgrade training to ensure that what they learn today will remain valuable tomorrow.
 

Although there are many external organizations that provide the training your employees need, employer-provided training demonstrates your commitment to your workers and lets you guide what and how they learn. This will build mutual trust, increase engagement and establish a more viable work culture.
 

It's true that the nature of the workforce—and the skills necessary to stay vital within it—will change dramatically in the years ahead given the advent of AI automation. Despite the fact that many current jobs will be eliminated or revamped, it doesn't mean that you, as an employer, are powerless. If you’re proactive about your employees’ future, you can ensure a thriving workplace and engaged workers for years to come.