This is the first of a 4-part article series featuring excerpts from the ‘Nurturing Authenticity in the Workplace’ white paper. The white paper compiles data from three Randstad studies - Employer Brand Research, Workmonitor and Talent Trends - to help employers understand the correlation between organisational values & cultures and the outcomes of their talent attraction strategies.

Technology is shaping the future workplace by making it more efficient, productive, and flexible. These changes are driven by advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), communication and data analytics, creating fresh opportunities for workers and businesses.

In June this year, US-based beer company Second Sins Brewery pitted a new beer recipe against one written by ChatGPT, after asking the AI-powered language model to create the best hazy india pale ale (IPA) recipe in the world. 50-odd customers tried the citrusy, hoppy brews and ranked the two. Though head brewer Jake Howell ultimately won, he admitted that the chatbot’s recipe was surprisingly impressive.

Besides helping humans brew great beer, today’s technology is making the world run smarter, faster and better in nearly every way imaginable. In Singapore, the city state’s first smart floating fish farm uses AI and video analytics to keep a close eye on its barramundi. Last year, a Malaysian surgeon performed cochlear implant surgery on a seven-year-old girl with the help of 3D imaging. In Hong Kong, city developers plan to put autonomous robots to work cleaning skyscrapers.

Work and technology have become inextricably intertwined, allowing individuals to be more productive and innovative. However, its applications have also sparked concerns amongst today’s workforce. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimates that 1.1 billion jobs will be impacted by technology in the next decade, causing workers to fear potential job displacement. Meanwhile, employers face the challenge of keeping pace with digital advancements and understanding their impacts on their talent management approach.

This article delves into how employees are adapting to technological advances and how employers can leverage technology to meet their workforce expectations and needs.

job seekers require greater support to evolve alongside technological change.

With automation and artificial intelligence (AI) now at the forefront of business and workforce strategies, more people are voicing their concerns about how they can adapt to evolving job roles.

According to Randstad’s 2023 Talent Trends research, 69% of employers believe the increase in automation has impacted workforce planning and created a greater need for talent in highly-skilled roles. The ongoing technological revolution has ushered in novel tech-related roles, such as AI and machine learning specialists, prompt engineers and more.

job seekers need greater support to keep pace with digital change
job seekers need greater support to keep pace with digital change

Traditional industries are also harnessing technology to create new digital jobs and improve overall outcomes. In healthcare, AI is revolutionising the sector by bringing life-saving medication to market faster by making drug development more efficient. Meanwhile, autonomous robotic systems have become an integral part of logistics processes, helping manufacturers sort, pack and store products more efficiently.

Amidst this transformative change, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PWC) Asia Pacific (APAC) Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey 2023 has revealed that employees understand their existing skills gaps - but lack the support to overcome them. While employees feel confident that their employers can provide resources to boost their skills, less than half of them (48%) believe that their employers will offer them the right opportunities to apply their skills effectively over the next five years.

To this end, companies often find themselves in a dilemma, torn between encouraging employees to steer their careers forward, and treading cautiously to avoid overly disruptive shifts in work and learning dynamics. This challenge becomes more pronounced when 37% of talent leaders believe their competitors are outspending them in AI, automation, and robotics.

The symbiotic relationship between AI and people skills has significant consequences for the nature of work in the future and the competencies professionals need to remain competitive. For organisations to thrive in this uniquely digital age, they need to build a balanced workforce with both AI and people skills to help their workforce succeed in the future of work.

This starts by cultivating a culture that prioritises emotional intelligence, creativity and adaptability besides technical capabilities. Embracing and leveraging AI is now imperative in the world of work, requiring employers to reshape workforce attitudes and pay close attention to what employees need to improve their skill sets in a highly competitive talent market.

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using technology to engage and empower the workforce.

Companies can harness technology by using talent insights to find better ways to succeed. This involves skill-mapping for future needs, identifying high-potential talent and keeping an eye on industry trends.

empower workforce with data and technology
empower workforce with data and technology

Business leaders also need to be aware of how other companies and industries are transforming, to evaluate whether digital tools and applications can be adapted to their own operations. Such insights enable companies to make data-driven decisions to engage their workforces more effectively and remain ahead of the game. An easy example of how technology has transformed the world of work is flexible working arrangements.

The last three years have shown us that most jobs can be performed efficiently remotely, without the need for the employee to be in an office five days a week. The latest Employer Brand Research report by Randstad has also revealed that employees in Asia, particularly Gen-Zers and Millennials, consider flexible working arrangements as one of the most important non-monetary benefits when choosing an employer.

Flexible working not only cuts commute time and work-related expenses but also, as highlighted in our 2022 Reimagine Work white paper, improves employee’s sense of autonomy as they have more control over how they want to spend their time.

Despite the majority of the workforce now expecting to work in a hybrid or remote manner, the same employer brand report found that more workers have been returning to offices since 2021. With the 2023 Workmonitor report stating 2 in 5 employees would turn down a job because of poor work flexibility, employers must be able to meet workforce expectations or risk causing employees to feel disengaged and undervalued.

When employees have the freedom to work independently and remotely, they can enhance soft skills like communication, creative thinking, critical analysis and time management at their own pace. Today, employers are expected to support and meet employees’ needs by providing resources and tools that can help them work effectively from anywhere and anytime they want, while still being able to build meaningful connections that extend beyond the confines of virtual communication.

key factors in implementing new technology
key factors in implementing new technology

3 key factors in implementing new technology 

Here are three factors to consider when implementing new technology while prioritising the interests of your workforce:

1. address your workforce’s concerns

In today's tech-driven landscape, addressing employee concerns regarding technology's impact on their roles and the broader workforce is paramount.

Transparent communication channels are key to striving towards shared goals. Organisations can implement a culture of open communication by conducting regular surveys or feedback sessions to gauge their sentiments, and establishing upskilling and reskilling programs to equip employees with critical skills.

It is also important to establish the value of human-AI collaboration and take note of employee concerns to alleviate any apprehensions the workforce may have about using new and unfamiliar tools and platforms. Demonstrating a commitment to employee well-being and career development will go a long way in showing them that the company is invested in their personal and professional growth.

2. prioritise employee needs

Ensuring that the company's values and any technological advancements in the workplace are aligned with employees' values and aspirations is vital for sustained success.

Before refining the organisation's core values to incorporate a greater emphasis on technology, it’s vital to engage employees by seeking their input and insights. Without context and clear communication across your teams, implementing new technology may hinder rather than help your workforce’s productivity. After all, the employees who will be using these tools in their day-to-day tasks have the greatest clarity into which resources and platforms would help them to streamline their workflows best.

Post-implementation, team leaders and managers should regularly assess the impact of tech changes on the workforce's well-being and job satisfaction. By actively incorporating both organisational and employee values into your tech-driven strategy, you can create a harmonious and forward-thinking work environment that fosters innovation and loyalty.

3. invest in learning and development 

To foster a positive view of technology among employees and balance new tools with human expertise, organisations should prioritise education and training in digital skills. Encourage a culture of continuous learning and transparent communication about technology's role as an enhancer, not a replacement. This will motivate employees to acquire necessary digital skills as part of their ongoing professional growth.

Recognise employees’ tech-driven achievements and provide constant mentoring and support for them to upskill. A recent study by Economist Impact and Google revealed that 65% of employees in Malaysia prioritised digital skills such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, IT support, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. Digital skills are no longer just an advantage; they are now essential for career success. Moreover, Randstad’s Brand Employer Research report noted that 36% of professionals would leave their jobs if they lacked career growth opportunities.

It is more important than ever for leadership to align with their workforce’s need for career development to retain their best talent, whether they decide to develop internal training programmes or leverage targeted external upskilling initiatives.

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Reach out to our specialised consultants for the latest talent and HR trends or want to know more about the latest market insights. Through market mapping and conversations with our clients and candidates, we offer a clear understanding of the latest workforce trends and HR best practices that you can turn into actionable strategies to attract and retain talent effectively.

Alternatively, if you are a job seeker seeking a better work-life balance, explore your career options and apply for a job that fits your skills and expectations.

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