The paradox of the robotic age is that automation will only make human skills more valuable. The World Economic Forum estimates that 75 million jobs will be lost to automation by 2022 but 133 million new jobs will be created – jobs requiring uniquely human qualities such as emotional intelligence and fine judgment. But unlike robots, humans have opinions—and that presents its own challenges for employers. This trend is set to grow and gives rise to new and distinct risks for employers.
A survey of nearly 400 cross-sector C-suites worldwide, conducted by Herbert Smith Freehills, warns of an unprecedented rise in workplace activism across all sectors and geographies. As employers explore different working models and advanced technologies, those working for them are becoming more vocal in articulating their views—about the workplace, their employer and about wider social issues—enabled and amplified by social media. The voice of the workforce will insist on being heard as never before. If traditional, internal communication channels fail to meet their needs, external means of raising concerns will fill the gap. Employers need to be prepared for what’s ahead.
The voice of the workforce. Digital technology and social media have provided a convenient way for the workforce to express their views, compare their experiences with others and, when needed, mobilize a response. If traditional, internal communication channels fail to meet their needs, external means of raising concerns will fill the gap.
Ninety-five percent of those surveyed said they expect to see an increase in their workforce making its voice heard through social media channels in the future. The organizations that will thrive in the workplace of the future will be those that find a way to redefine the workforce relationship, manage tensions and create a common, compelling vision.
Activism on the rise. The global top triggers for activism include: automation and AI, surveillance, pay and benefits, corporate social responsibility, and diversity. According to the survey:
- Over 80 percent of companies predict a rise in workforce activism with 95 percent expecting an increase in workers use of social media to amplify their voice;
- Respondents anticipate an increase in online digital petitions with 77 percent expecting to see more crowdfunded legal challenges;
- Workforce activism is a significant potential threat to corporate reputation, warning this could cost organizations up to 25 percent of global revenue each year; and
- Almost 50 percent see activism as a positive force for change.
Workplace activism in the age of digital communication calls for a new mindset from employers. Leadership styles may have to change and established procedures and policies will certainly have to be adapted to contend with a more democratized workforce. Protecting and nurturing the trust and engagement between employers and the workforce in this environment is paramount. The organizations that will thrive will be those that find a way to redefine the workforce relationship, manage tensions and create a common, compelling vision.
Source: Herbert Smith Freehills, LLP.
From WCI's HR Answers Now ©2022 CCH Incorporated and its affiliates. All rights reserved.
Tags: Employers' Blog Posts