The value of employees in automated industries

By Devin Partida, technical writer

The modern business landscape is becoming increasingly automated. More than  90% of global organizations already mechanize some tasks, and a growing number rely on extensive automation. As this trend continues, some workers worry they’ll lose their jobs to machines.

Concerns over machine-driven unemployment are nothing new, but today’s remarkable automation adoption rate stirs up old fears. Despite these worries, it’s coincided with recent job growth. No matter how advanced robots become, human workers can still provide value.

Workers concerned about their future employment can learn to maximize their value in an automated industry. Here are five ways how.

1. Strengthen Soft Skills

Robots aren’t inherently better workers than humans but are more skilled at specific tasks. Likewise, people have advantages over machines in other areas, typically those involving soft skills. If workers focus on strengthening abilities like communication and adaptability, they’ll bolster their value in the workplace.

Social and emotional skills are difficult, if not impossible, to quantify, and robots can only imitate them at best. If employees can cultivate and display higher levels of cooperation, creative thinking and flexibility, they’ll stand out amid a sea of automation. These skills will become more in-demand, securing jobs for workers who have them.

2. Learn to Work With Robots

Employees who can work with robots well will become more valuable. Since machines and humans have different skill sets, workers can learn how to use automation to best complement their abilities. In practice, this typically means automating repetitive, non-value-adding tasks so people can focus on more valuable work.

According to one survey,almost 60% of workers say automating repetitive tasks could save them six or more hours a week. The majority of those people also say they would use that time to perform more value-adding or rewarding work. Pursuing these goals can help employees stand out in an automated environment.

If workers learn how they can use extra time to add value to the company, they’ll be ready for an automated future. As automation increases, they’ll emerge as indispensable employees.

3. Understand Where Automation Is Less Viable

Those just entering the workforce or looking to change jobs should know what areas are more secure. The nature of some careers makes automation impractical, providing people with an enticing opportunity. Many of these fields are also facing worker shortages and can’t keep up with demand.

For example, construction added 13,000 jobs every month in 2019 on average. The industry’s growing, but it can’t automate, so it has skyrocketing demand for human workers. In addition to providing an employment opportunity, this shortage gives potential employees a bargaining chip for higher wages or benefits.

4. Show Initiative

Instead of waiting for workplaces to automate, workers can look for opportunities to integrate automation. If an employee realizes how an RPA program can save them time, they can bring the suggestion before their manager. Demonstrating how this can help workers add more value to the company will help them stand out to their employers.

Initiative like this is another area where humans outshine machines. Apart from showing willingness and aptitude with automation, it highlights the worker’s non-automatable skills. This will also help employees prepare for any mechanical systems their workplace implements.

5. Find Ways to Be More Productive

Many companies have found that productivity rises by as much as 30% after automating some tasks. This improvement typically leads to job growth, but workers can capitalize on it even further. If employees actively look for ways to be more productive amid automation, employers will take note.

Businesses won’t let go of an employee if they become more productive after introducing automation. Rising productivity levels help companies understand how robots should complement human workers, not replace them. Consciously pursuing this will give people more job security as a result.

Employees Are Still Valuable Amid Mass Automation

History shows that technological advancements ultimately create more jobs than they take. Automation will likely follow this path. While it may mean short-term displacement, it won’t replace humans in the workforce.

Employees retain value even as automation skyrockets, and they can emphasize and expand that strength by following these steps. Proper preparation, education and initiative will ensure workers maximize their potential amid automation.

[Image: Clayton Cardinalli for Unsplash] 

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