Maximizing Human Talent Through Workforce Automation

Automated technology continues to replace human workers in a wide variety of jobs and industries. This includes the retail, transportation, manufacturing and agriculture industries, just to name a few. Businesses with a backbone comprised largely of brick-and-mortar stores are struggling to keep up with online retailers, autonomous cars are threatening to replace humans in transport jobs, and automated farming technology continues to make leaps and bounds. Furthermore, according to a Harvard Business Review article, “robots have probably taken about 85% of the 5 million manufacturing jobs that have disappeared from the United States since 2000.” Despite the doom-and-gloom perspective that many companies have regarding workforce automation, it presents a unique opportunity for businesses to maximize human talent. By utilizing machines to take care of busy-work and time-consuming manual processes, companies can focus human workers on strategic, business-growth initiatives rather than simply replace workers with robots.

More Than a Store

Providing community-focused human services is one way to maximize human talent in brick-and-mortar locations. Walmart, for example, is already rolling out optometry services, beauty salons and restaurants at various locations. Imagine the potential revenue sources from offering similar services such as day care, elder care or a community meeting space. Doing so would not only give human employees a way to contribute to new areas of business growth, but it would also give businesses a way to become an integral part of the community.

Stock Options

Another tactic some companies are trying is offering employees generous stock options. If an employee was replaced, yet holds stock in the company, they could benefit from the increased value as a result of utilizing automated workers. Consider the example of the Chobani founder, Hamdi Ulukaya, who gave 10% of his stock in the yogurt company to 2,000 employees, while the rest received stock options worth about $150,000 each. This approach provides a financial buffer for employees that will suffer from technological unemployment. This tactic is particularly valuable if a company has immediate plans to automate its jobs.

As reliance on enterprise technology continues to grow and automated workers begin replacing humans, companies have a great opportunity to invest in the potential of their employees. While the knee-jerk reaction might be to simply help employees find new jobs, companies that shift into new markets and adapt their business models to allow employees, customers and communities to benefit from technological change will see a prosperous future in automating the majority of their workforce. Want to discover other leading industry trends? Read this article about what HR teams need most in 2017.