Building the hybrid human-digital workforce of the future

- July 21, 2022 3 MIN READ

Automation and digital solutions aren’t going anywhere, so it’s time to educate and upskill our workforce to make the most of the hybrid life, writes Luke Kelly, Director of Sales Engineering at UiPath.

Australia faces one of the most pressing labour crunch challenges with our workforce today, and organisations urgently need to find ways to ease the impact and future-proof their business.

Software automation has emerged as an ideal solution and a game-changer to the future of work. Adoption of automation is accelerating significantly, with Gartner predicting that the global automation market will hit $596.6 billion in 2022.

Many governments and businesses in the Asia Pacific (APAC) are already increasingly prioritising investment in automation solutions. The Australian Federal Government earmarked $1 billion in its budget for new technology investment to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to go digital.

Business leaders need to redefine the employee engagement, redeployment and hiring plans that encourage upskilling and reskilling.

To get there, here are the two key actions that they can take:

Educate the workforce on the benefits of automation

Applying the automation process in business operations is not enough to achieve the desired business outcomesBusinesses also need their employees to embrace these new tools for their investment to be worthwhile, and that depends on individuals truly understanding automation’s value. This calls for businesses to foster the need for automation with their teams at the operational level.

Aside from touting the benefits of automation in terms of driving efficiency and productivity, business leaders must stress that automation, contrary to popular belief, does not take away jobs.

Digital workers on intelligent automation platforms can learn and carry out human-like business processes, relieving human workers from repetitive and mundane administrative tasks. These streamline work processes and, most importantly, free up human workers to accomplish higher-value work and elevate their sense of purpose in the organisation and for themselves.

Workforce skill building

Wide-scale training will be needed to move current employees into these higher-value roles. Business leaders predict that they will have to retrain a third of their workforce over the next few years because of automation technologies.

Workforce skill building will be crucial for businesses in the next few years. Organisations’ education and training policies must encourage in-demand automation skills and provide upskilling opportunities to help workers keep pace with advances in technology.

Not only that, but workers themselves must develop the mindset of continuous learning to keep up with rapid technological and job changes.

In addition to teaching technical skill sets, training opportunities must also include soft skills like leadership, critical thinking and adaptability. In a future where robots and virtual assistants can take over mundane, repetitive tasks, the traits that make us human will be our workforce’s competitive advantage.

A McKinsey & Company study found that to prepare their workforces for a post-COVID world, organisations must emphasise training in human-centered skills like leadership and managing others (51+ per cent); critical thinking and decision-making (50 per cent); project management (50 per cent), and adaptability and continuous learning (40 per cent).

With automation increasingly becoming commonplace in our workplace, business leaders must inevitably evolve to manage a human-digital workforce. When employees realise that the digital workers will strengthen their capabilities rather than replace them, the intended outcome of a unified human and digital ‘hybrid’ workforce will be achieved.

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