Technology and the Workplace: Some New Perspectives

Despite their differences, employers and workers alike are aware that retraining will be a critical response to the growth of automation, says a new study by Randstad Sourceright.

May 14, 2019 – As technology’s impact grows, employers and workers alike see the potential for improving work and the workplace, this according to a new study by Randstad Sourceright. But many also worry that technological advances could cost people their livelihoods.

Eighty-one percent of employers said that are excited about the opportunities that artificial intelligence will present, said Randstad’s 2019 Talent Trends report, which surveyed global human capital leaders, C-suite executives and working professionals. But 44 percent of working professionals expressed fears about losing their jobs.

“Though more employers are seeking ways to attract candidates and engage their existing workforces, executives do not feel the same anxiety their workers do about technology corroding the work experience and eliminating jobs,” said Rebecca Henderson, CEO of Randstad Sourceright. “This disconnect presents an opportunity for employers to attract and retain talent by offering job training, upskilling and assuring them of job security.”

C-suite and human capital leaders are excited about the potential of AI in the workplace, said Randstad Sourceright. Seventy-nine percent said that they believe their organizations will experience more opportunities. The same percentage said they believe they will be able to better source, attract and engage with the right talent. Nearly as many, 78 percent, said they are excited about the investments their companies will make in this area.

Plans to Reskill

Comparatively, many are also concerned about technology’s impact on job loss (64 percent) and impersonalization of the recruitment process (67 percent). Seventy-six percent, however, said they are planning to reskill their workforces in response to automation investments.

A majority of working professionals, 61 percent, said they consider AI and robotics as enabling better productivity and efficiency, while 57 percent said these technologies will create a more positive work experience, said the report. An additional 55 percent said that adoption will create new opportunities for them personally, while 56 percent said searching for jobs will become easier.

Reskilling: A Game-Changing Opportunity for Search Firms
While a skills shortage creates challenges for search firms in an increasingly candidate-driven market, it also presents a chance for recruiters to provide clients with reskilling services. According to a report by Bullhorn, reskilling provides a solution to an increasingly big problem, but few recruitment firms are making serious efforts to incorporate it into their plans. 

At the same time, however, there are concerns. Just as many, 56 percent, said that the job search experience will be less personal with the rise of technology, and some (44 percent) are concerned that they may lose their job in the future.

“While automation and AI will inevitably lead to the displacement of some workers, employers have an opportunity to redeploy those resources through continuous training and development of their workforces,” said the Randstad report. “You’ll need to build a roadmap that aligns skills to evolving business needs – especially digital competencies as transformation accelerates – to help retain loyal workers who need support with keeping up with technology.”

Providing Training

Workers are well aware that the adoption of new technologies means they will have to acquire new skills to stay competitive. Almost two-thirds of workers surveyed (65 percent) said they are planning to seek training outside of work to advance or maintain their careers this year, said the report.

“The global skills gap will make it harder and more costly to hire talent with the skills a company needs, rendering internal reskilling not only a necessity, but also a smart investment,” Ms. Henderson said. “The best talent is going to acquire those needed skills, even if they have to do so at their own expense, and smart companies will be the ones that proactively provide training to their workers.”

Related: How to Attract, Engage and Retain Talent in 2019

In line with the ongoing digitalization of many industries, companies now believe workers must possess a basic set of digital and technical competencies, said the report. Eighteen percent of talent leaders said they wish they could invest more to reskill their workforces in emerging businesses.

Working professionals, too, are aware of the importance of staying current with their skills. Sixty-five percent (65 percent) said they will seek training on their own to advance or maintain their careers this year, said Randstad. At the same time, 65 percent also said the training provided by their employers closely adheres to what they want personally.

Candidate Expectations

What kind of skills development is most in demand? Almost half (43 percent) of working professionals said they will pursue technical skills development — such as data analysis, coding, writing and computer programming — on their own this year, said the survey. Nearly as many (41 percent) said they are seeking to improve soft skills, such as communication, presentation, problem-solving, conflict resolution, leadership and time management.

Related: Eight Trends for Recruitment Firms to Heed In Changing Times

Employers and workers are also strongly divided about the quality of the job-seeking process, said Randstad. More than three-quarters (77 percent) of talent leaders rate their company’s talent experience as either excellent or very good, while 84 percent of working professionals said they had a bad candidate experience. Fifty-two percent (52 percent) claimed to have had more than one unpleasant episode.

4 Tips for Creating Candidate Experiences That Improve the Bottom Line
In a way, business is like sports — organizations with the best talent nearly always win. The challenge is finding the superstars and convincing them to join your team. To effectively recruit for the C-suite, it takes creativity, dedication and a firm commitment to quality. 

A big question then becomes how can you be sure you’re prioritizing the right channels to meet candidate expectations, said Randstad. Both employers and talent are aligned on the most critical tool: Sixty-three percent of talent leaders and 48 percent of working professionals said that corporate career portals are the most important source of information during the job search.

There is less alignment, however, on the influence of other channels, said the report. While working professionals rate LinkedIn as the second most used source (41 percent), talent leaders prioritize Facebook (53 percent) over the professional networking site. In fact, Facebook ranks fifth according to working professionals, behind career sites, LinkedIn, job boards and current employees, said the survey.

Employer Branding

Although a company may be investing significantly in employer branding — and 54 percent of companies said they are spending more this year — it may not be targeting the right audience if it’s failing to consider the channels workers use to learn more about prospective employers, said Randstad.

One factor affecting the employer brands of many organizations is the adoption of technology at work. Professionals expect their employers to provide effective tools to accomplish their work. One in five of those surveyed said that their ideal employer uses the latest technology in the workplace. Yet, only 15 percent of employers said they believe this matters to talent.

Technology and communication channels also play a critical role in employer brand and employee value proposition. When about how they search and apply for job opportunities, working professionals said that two channels stand out: mobile apps and LinkedIn. While job boards remain important, job seekers are finding it easier to apply using their social profiles and their smartphones, the report said. Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) said they are using LinkedIn as part of their search strategy and nearly as many do so through their mobile devices.

Related: 6 Reasons Why Executive Search is Ready for Disruption

Diversity, meanwhile, continues to be a critical topic for many businesses, especially those that have struggled to achieve balanced leadership teams. Business leaders and talent alike see the value of a diverse workforce, according to the report. Eighty-six percent of talent leaders said that a robust diversity and inclusion strategy is either extremely or very important to their workforce. The majority of working professionals (72 percent) also said this is critical to their workplace experience.

Focus on People

Where employers and workers differ, however, is in their perception of how a diverse and inclusive workforce is personally beneficial. More than half (58 percent) of company leaders said that the biggest gain is giving the organization a broader and more inclusive perspective on topics and projects – in other words, accelerating work as a result of different voices.

For working professionals, 44 percent said that a diverse workplace makes them feel like the business is focused on people, and 42 percent said that having such a policy in place puts them at ease. The same percentage (42 percent) said that a diversity and inclusion strategy positions the organization for growth.

“Why do today’s workers expect employers to have a diversity and inclusion strategy in the workplace?” said Audra Jenkins, Randstad US chief diversity and inclusion officer. “They understand that diversity of thought and ideas, a culture of inclusion and equal opportunity for advancement benefit both their companies as well as their own development and careers. More importantly, they are encouraged and motivated when they know their employer values everyone’s unique experiences and backgrounds. This leads to higher satisfaction and engagement.”

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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