Jun 17th 2019
Weekly News Roundup
I am often asked about artificial intelligence and the future of work. My answer is that A.I. will change 100% of current jobs. It will change the job of a factory worker. It will change the job of a software developer, of a customer service agent, of a professional driver. And it will change my job as the CEO of one of the biggest technology companies in the world. Yet notice my choice of words: A.I. will change jobs but it won’t replace all of them. A.I. will also create completely new jobs we haven’t even dreamed up yet.
The recent jobs report from the Labor Department paints only a partial picture of the current U.S. economy. While unemployment is at 3.6%, there are still nearly 6 million unemployed workers in the U.S. And even though the technology industry alone has more than 700,000 open jobs, tech employers can’t fill these jobs because people aren’t equipped with the right skills.
Meanwhile, the Labor Department projects that computer and I.T. occupations will be the fastest-growing type of work through 2026, adding 557,100 well-paying jobs in fields like A.I., cybersecurity, digital design, and software development.
Ultimately, our challenge as a society isn’t about A.I. replacing jobs—it’s about people and skills. If we introduce new technology into the world but don’t equip our workforce with the necessary skills, we’re not living up to our obligation as responsible innovators.
Smart policies are needed to prepare today’s workforce for 21st century careers. That’s why I’m visiting Capitol Hill this week, with some fellow Fortune 500 CEOs, to ask Congress to reform the Higher Education Act (HEA). Government and industries from manufacturing to tech need to come together to create a new skills paradigm: a culture of lifelong learning.
The HEA authorizes nearly $130 billion yearly in federal grants, loans, and other benefits to undergraduate students pursuing a bachelor’s and other higher education degrees. But around 67% of America’s adult population does not have a bachelor’s degree, and 44 million have pursued a degree without ever finishing.
For too long we’ve focused on bachelor’s degrees as the pathway to a good job, while not providing enough access to learning for those at different stages in their careers. This is where we can do more: Reform of the HEA, centered around these three priorities, would open up opportunities for workers to refresh their skills—or learn new ones—in order to better prepare for a changing workforce.
The first priority should be focused on loosening federal work study restrictions so that students can work off-campus in the private sector and gain real-world work experience. Right now, only 1% of students benefiting from federal work study are working for companies in the private sector.
Second, Pell Grants should be expanded to cover skills education for part-time students and mid-career professionals. Pell Grants currently are awarded only to students attending programs involving 600 hours or more. If a working parent wants to attend a part-time coding bootcamp or cybersecurity course, they should still be able to use the need-based grant to help fund their education.
Finally, the HEA should make all federal student loans available for career-oriented education aside from bachelor’s and other traditional education degrees. These loans today are only for those attending school full-time and enrolled in a formal degree program, meaning many other forms of modern education, such as apprenticeships or other skills-based training programs, aren’t eligible for loans. If a mid-career professional wants to enroll in a program to learn new A.I. skills, they should be able to take out federal student loans without taking time off work to enroll full-time in a degree program.
The practical benefit of these HEA reforms could have an impact across the country, simply by refocusing education dollars to help more students and mid-career professionals build in-demand skills for the A.I. era.
Today, more than 550 business partners, including Dow, AT&T, and Bank of America, are already partners in a new approach to education called P-TECH, pioneered by IBM, which combines high-school, community college, skills training, professional mentoring, and paid internships to better prepare students for career success.
And earlier this year some of America’s top employers committed to providing apprenticeship programs to prepare the workforce for tomorrow’s high-tech jobs. The CTA Apprenticeship Coalition, of which IBM is a founding member, includes companies like Walmart, Toyota, and Sprint, and will create on-the-job learning opportunities for thousands of Americans. These apprenticeships, which are based on a model launched by IBM in 2017, are particularly attractive to mid-career workers who want to build new skills or break into new industries without incurring student debt or taking time off work.
Around the world, companies spend more than $200 billion annually on skills training programs. At IBM, every employee completes 60 hours of ongoing education per year, for instance. The investments we make in people at all stages of their careers are just as important as the investments we make in technology. If businesses and policymakers pool their expertise and work together to invest in people, we can look forward to more good jobs for U.S. workers, a stronger economy, and a renewed era of innovation.
By now, just about everyone acknowledges the fact that our world is changing at lightning speed. From technology to education to health and even to the way we dress, there is hardly anything that isn’t changing. And that includes the world of human resource management. Some changes are liked and embraced, while others create fear and anxiety. How are hiring and retention practices going to change? What will be used and prioritized tomorrow? How are future generations going to change the workplace? These are questions going through everyone’s minds in all businesses and organizations.From developments in technology, to the transformation of the modern-day workplace, it’s enough to make an employer’s head spin.
Hard-copy CVs and traditional tests and assessment centers have long ago transformed into professional online profiles and AI-powered online video assessment platforms. Employers need to start looking into the future, thinking forward and thinking of new strategies that can aid in facilitating a flexible organizational culture that can appropriately adjust to the constant changes of the world of HR, and ultimately make the most out of an organization’s most valuable asset: its employees.
Here are the top four HR trends, which, when tapped into, can help your business perform at the peak of its ability:
1. EMPLOYEE ENABLEMENT
People’s approach to work is changing. Professionals are now exposed to many new work arrangements and are able to take their professional development into their own hands. However, more often times than not, employers lack the time, tools, and potentially the knowledge, to effectively enable and empower their employees.
This can be considered a major drawback to productivity and employee satisfaction, as most of today’s workforce takes their own personal development extremely seriously. Seven in 10 respondents to the Bayt.com On-The-Job Training in the Middle East and North Africa Poll state that aside from salary, “training and development opportunities” at work is considered most important factor when considering a job. Also, 91.4% of respondents to the same poll state that they deliberately look for companies with clear training and development programs during their job search and selection.
Many employers have come to realize the importance of training and development for enablement, and have started implementing various dynamic employee enablement strategies. But before any employer can actually start effectively enabling their employees, they must acknowledge the fact that they’ll need to utilize an employee-centric approach. Employers need to put their employees first, and foster a culture where employees feel valued and empowered. But most importantly, employees should feel that their employers truly do care about their professional development and that they have the potential to transform their jobs into fruitful careers.
One way of enabling your employees is by simply focusing on feedback. Listen to their input, their ideas, and their contributions, which all funnel in building a stronger and more wholesome strategy. You can do this through the use of structured listening processes such as conducting monthly “town hall” meetings focused on sharing and receiving feedback from all employees in all offices; daily huddles to provide a quick way to update small teams on urgent matters and resolve pending items; and weekly meetings focused on performance of last week, plans for coming week, and any bottlenecks or opportunities or strategy revisions that need to be discussed. Structured communication helps ensure that everyone has a voice and is recognized. This meeting rhythm is an integral part of Bayt.com’s internal communication, and we have found it to be very useful for even delivering information to employees across the board.
Employees are becoming more and more empowered by the day. They know what they want. They know what they need. And they expect you, as an employer, to meet them half way. Now, each employee or group of employees can desire different things. So, how are you to cater to their different wants and needs? The answer is simple: personalization.
It is of no surprise that HR tends to implement standardized strategies in their talent management practices, where they focus solely on the wants and needs of the organization instead of that of the existing or prospective employee. When onboarding, for example, employers usually prepare a process where the new joiner can learn more about the company and how things are done there, but give little to no opportunity for the new joiner to engage and give their input.
One great way that employers are starting to tackle this issue is through utilizing online onboarding platforms such as Bayt.com’s AfterHire. This tool is specifically designed with the intention of revolutionizing the painstaking process of talent onboarding, and ensuring that newly hired talent are efficiently assimilated to the company, fully productive in their new job roles, and engaged with their new employer and team. Employers can also configure and personalize this process to best suite each and every new joiner’s unique situation.
Certainly, personalization goes beyond onboarding and extends to matters like working hours, office space, dress code, type of work and projects, learning and development, etc. Adopting a personalized approach starts with a simple one-on-one discussion between the manager and the direct report, based on the outcomes of which certain adjustments can be made where possible.
3. EMPLOYEE’S EMOTIONAL WELLBEING
Back in the day, employers and HR managers disregarded the emotional health of their employees at the workplace, and mainly just focused on keeping high morale through monetary benefits and incentives. However, things are changing rapidly; emotional health at the workplace is becoming a hot topic that is gaining a lot of attention.
One way to promote employee emotional well-being at work is through providing your employees with the right type of training and resources to deal with stress, anxiety, and various emotional and mental health issues. Even physical health discussions play an important role in this, as a healthy body leads to a healthy mind.
A simple idea that we have found to be useful at Bayt.com is brown bag sessions. These are very popular education and motivation sessions with key guest speakers that can be conducted over lunchtime, with the general objective of empowering the participants to increase self-confidence, communication skills, attitude, morale, wellbeing and work-life success. The great thing about them is that they are casual in nature, and we’ve had brown bag sessions covering everything from nutrition to creativity.
Employers can also consider offering flexible working arrangement, as wellbeing is not just tied to physical health, but their employees’ overall quality of life. By offering flexible working hours, your employees can alter their working habits to fit their lifestyle needs, where they can also focus on things that add meaning to their lives such as family, faith and hobbies.
4. INCLUSIVE HIRING
It is no secret that access to employment opportunities varies greatly by various factors and demographics. But organizations worldwide are working relentlessly in an attempt to try to find a solution for unequal access to work opportunities and the lack of diversity in certain work environments. And they might have just found one: artificial intelligence (AI). It’s reliable, it’s efficient, and most importantly, it isn’t biased.
Employers are determined to have a diverse workforce and culture and have now resorted to AI-backed technologies for their hiring practices such as candidate selection, interview and assessment, and screening tools. These solutions can help in expanding and diversifying the candidate pool to include candidates solely based on their qualification, without taking their gender, race, age, or class into account. Likewise, many companies have been greatly benefiting from the disability self-identification option available on Bayt.com, to help them grant career opportunities to people with disabilities. Such tools can help companies increase diversity, and focus on hiring top talent who can contribute great value to their place of work.
Are HR professionals lacking employee relations skills?, Personnel Today
A quick look at the programme of the CIPD’s new Festival of Work reveals plenty of interesting content: the ethics of automation; leading transformation; the science of learning; unlocking creativity through disruption; artificial intelligence – I’m sure I can’t be the only one wondering what’s happened to employee and industrial relations?
Thanks to the mass adoption of the shared services model, new entrants to HR are not getting exposure to the broad set of skills, including ER and IR, they would have a generation ago” Perhaps, it’s not considered to be as sexy as the other topics mentioned above. Perhaps it’s not considered “strategic” enough too, especially when compared to broader concepts like change management or organisational development.
But – here’s the problem – the upshot of all this is what I’ve increasingly noticed in recent years: the severe shortage it’s causing in the professional skills in employee relations and industrial relations.
This is a problem at both the top and the bottom of organisations. Thanks to the mass adoption of the shared services model, new entrants to HR are not getting exposure to the broad set of skills, including ER and IR, they would have a generation ago. They are choosing to specialise in more exciting areas.
But at the top too there are HRDs that are now so used to a more arms-length delivery of HR services that they themselves don’t have ER/IR specialism either. As someone who is recruiting for these scarce skills, these trends leave everyone in a difficult place. The shrinking minority of subject matter experts who do have the skills organisations still need are either very difficult or very expensive to persuade to move. Or both.
The result is that organisations are quite literally paying the (high) price to try and solve a situation they’ve arguably created, by paying more money to hire people from outside of their business because they’ve not trained their own HR teams internally.
Until organisations start to proactively develop the skills of their own HR people, which I fear could be some time away, there is only one solution I can see: HRDs must start to think more holistically about the skills they need and where they come from.
If direct ER/IR experience isn’t there in candidates, they need to hire those with the capacity to learn. For if there’s one thing my business has taught me over the years, it’s that the key predictor of good industrial and employee relations is the ability to forge deep and meaningful relationships within the business.
However, I see too many experience-light, but competent-heavy candidates that organisations aren’t willing to take a risk with. So many great people are being overlooked. My retort is that I have countless examples where hiring for potential has proved to be highly successful. Employers that made this leap of faith haven’t looked back. But many still haven’t made this leap at all.
So, when HRDs congregate today and tomorrow, to listen to experts talk about the future direction HR departments need to take, I also hope they think about how they shouldn’t forget about developing their own skills, or having the bravery to hire those with the more agile skills so many HRDs say they need.