AI and The Future of Work – Solving The Man-Machine Conundrum

As the conventional workplace is experiencing a major transformation and new-gen employees demand more autonomy and meaning from the work they do, it is becoming increasingly important for business leaders to embrace modern workplace etiquettes and skills that will help them to run forward-looking businesses in today’s age of AI and automation. 

With the intention to better understand the impact of emerging AI technologies that are intuitive, powerful and aligned to the future needs of the workplace, we asked five pertinent questions to the experts from the corporate world in the recently-held HR Conclave at FIIB – answers to which are highly relevant to everyone in today’s workforce. Let’s see what’s their outlook on AI and The Future of Work!

1. Is technology really an enabler or is it taking away the intimacy of human touch or interactions in the management of a company’s key resource – its people?

Change is the only constant – This is said to be the key to living a happy and fulfilled life. In the same manner, evolution is the basic threat to life but it can be turned into an opportunity if we humans accept it as a fundamental feature of a successful life. The industry is moving towards smarter solutions i.e. Artificial Intelligence and the masses who don’t evolve with it won’t survive in the long-run. AI as a technology is indeed an enabler to designing, developing and deploying better solutions at the workplace.  

Don’t bear AI, just accept it and evolve in it accordingly. If you don’t evolve, then you will evaporate,” said Mr. Vikram Malik.

2. Technology induced systems bring with them problems that need solutions. While big companies have the muscle to overcome these, how do the middle and small-sized companies solve these, thus effectively leveraging technology for people solutions?

It is not hidden from anyone that the organizations nowadays are heavily investing in technology-based and cloud-based HR solutions resulting in advancements of techniques. Be it huge enterprises or startup companies, the organizational operations and processes related to HR such as induction, training and performance management are being automated and driven by technology, making AI to be an added advantage for the smooth and profitable management of workforce. 

We are the mind and working capital behind the evolving technology which brings better utilization in the industry. Let’s accept all the changes with open hands,” said Ms. Devosmita Pal.

3. New patterns of jobs have come up, and many of these are enabled by technology, for instance, work-from-home, job share, part-time employment, or the contract worker (like the quintessential Uber driver). Given the changed contract between the employer and the employee, how do companies engage employees?

There are no second thoughts in the fact that modern-technological applications are extending the capabilities of HRs and thus allowing organizations to tackle the changed work contracts. Organizations today must focus on building future-looking talent management practices instead of fearing the revamped technology within HR processes. The only group who can take human touch away from humans are humans and there is no way technology can do it. Accepting the presence of AI and imparting the future required skills are some effective ways of handling this workplace alignment. 

The more you practise it, the more you talk about it and the more you get equipped with it, there’s no way that technology can take the human touch away from humans,” said Mr. Deepnarayan Tripathi

4. How do you connect hard-to-measure, volatile and amorphous aspects like People Data to Business Strategy? 

In today’s age of automation, organizations biggest asset is their people and to lead better in the fast-changing business world, they must know how to match and connect emotions, culture and behaviours with the data. Aligning culture to business strategy is one best way to drive better organizational results. We are approaching what may be called the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” which has agility, automation, intelligence and cloud as technology pillars. Making better connections around behaviours, embracing the power of storytelling, and defining brand traditions and culture are some ways that can help a company connect the hard-to-measure people data to business strategies.

The machine is going to take over but not the empathy part but the connect part,” said Mr. Atish Bhattacharya.

5. With the disruption in technology now becoming a norm than an exception, what are the expectations of workplaces from the millennials?

The rising role of technology within HR processes has unwittingly reshaped the future of many workers. In some profiles, they’re asked to leave the job directly whereas in some others the process goes more subtly. But that’s just one side of the coin. While the officially largest generation in the workforce aka millennials expect a positive workplace culture, well-being programs and flexibility in terms of location and time, the organizations, on the other hand, expect their employees to impart the corporate training and convert their learnings into a profitable, growth-oriented ladder that fulfils their aspirations in a mutually beneficial manner. On a higher note, workforces also want millennials to think traditionally (in some cases) and make their realignment willingly in terms of training, work-life balance, social & financial responsibilities and managing accountabilities when they plan to switch. 
“There is nothing that we can’t learn as a human that machines can, we are also enabled to learn by those machines,” said Ms. Charu Sharma.