We’re only a few days into January, yet already we have seen a flurry of articles predicting the new, ‘hot’ technology for 2015. From 3D printing, automated cars and smart technology in the workplace, 2015 looks to be a ground breaking year for technology, with all of us feeling its impact, and nowhere more so that in the workplace.
For businesses wanting to cooperate with, or keep ahead of change, it is important that they spend the early part of 2015 evaluating the impact of new technology on their processes and people before they begin to implement change. The need for technology is clear – companies who aren’t digitally active struggle to keep pace with their competitors and attract new customers who are demanding greater digital interaction and delivery, in keeping with their own infrastructure and ways of working. Agility is today’s business zeitgeist. However, companies who rush to new technology without thinking about how it will be embedded in the business, risk severe implementation headaches.
Current predictions point to a massive 50% of jobs disappearing over the coming years due to the rise of technology in the workplace, with 27% of employees admitting to worries over job insecurities and fears that their skills are no longer relevant, and soon to be displaced by computers and intelligent machines. This anxiety is not only distracting but also disrupting, with three possible outlets for this negativity:
– Employees turn on their bosses out of anger for what they perceive to be a lack of consideration for worker job security. Long-service employees may find the change disloyal and insensitive.
– Employees turn on the younger generation of workers out of envy for the digital awareness of the younger computer natives. The envy can turn into resentment and lead to worker divides and cliques that severely disrupt progress and change.
– Employees turn on the technology, blaming it as a cause of workplace friction and refusing to, or begrudgingly, work with it. This frustration hinders implementation of technology and, if not done right, can be the reason why investments fail and further disgruntlement.
We recommend that HR professionals and business leaders take the initiative in planning for this technological change. The reasons for investing in new technology, and the benefits it provides, make the change unavoidable for many businesses. Post-recession, many companies now like to operate as lean organisations, and consequently prefer the benefits offered by technology, such as automaton and the reliability, efficiency and high-level productivity that come with it.
According to the CIPD, employee anxieties over job insecurity are made worse by the organisation’s failure to communicate and plan for change with its workers. Too few workers understand the true impact of technology in the workplace because, blinded by doubt and worry, they don’t see the benefits, nor are they offered appropriate re-training when their jobs are affected by new technology. Until this is done, employees will struggle to see technology as a positive rather than a cause of redundancies.