I recently wrote a blog about re-skilling the workforce to prepare for technology, which got some traction amongst readers. This is an extremely popular topic lately, due to the nature of the changing work economy and the proliferation of technology in all aspects of our lives.
Companies are turning to technology, robots, apps and kiosks to streamline their service, automate simple tasks, save money and increase profits. Technology can be a great option for organizations to improve their processes and procedures; however, it is important that leaders consider all the implications that technology can have. And it is important for individuals to consider what they should be doing to re-skill and grow to make themselves irreplaceable.
Answer this question honestly, would you rather interact with a computer/robot, or a friendly, caring, human being who can personalize your service? Please take note, the friendly, caring and personalized part are extremely important to this question, because not all human beings are going to deliver the service interactions that their colleagues and customers desire. That is why as a leader it is critical that you focus on re-skilling your talent with soft-skills such as authenticity, friendliness, fun, and hospitality, that 1. A robot cannot duplicate and 2. Makes them the most desirable to interact with.
I’ll give you a scenario to consider. Have you ever been at a grocery checkout and noticed that the line for the self-checkout was shortest? But once you proceeded to check out, you had trouble with the scanner, an “unidentified object” in the bagging area and your points card wouldn’t scan properly. This has happened to me on many occasions, and I’ve noticed the customers around me who chose the human cashier have typically gotten out much faster.
Technology can be great in some circumstances, but often, organizations are trying to implement technology in place of humans to reduce costs at the expense of the best service.
In a recent interview with Quartz, Bill Gates floated the idea of the government taxing robots which replace human workers to potentially slow automation and fund other types of employment for humans (Quartz, 2017). Right now, robot automation is primarily effecting front-line roles such as customer service agents, phone center reps, warehouse workers, and probably drivers in the future. Re-directing some of the funds in some sort of tax would still net a profit for those companies changing to robot automation, but it would also support the re-skilling or re-focusing of the humans being displaced by robots.
What do you think of a robot tax? Could it work to slow down automation and help re-skill workers into new jobs? Share in the comments below!
Check out my latest book The Seven Personalization Principles to find out more about how you can re-skill yourself and your employees with 7 soft-skills focused on personalization that will make you irreplaceable, not matter what job you’re in.