Nina Mapson Bone (lead image), author of Meaningful Work: Unlock your unique path to career fulfilment, is a highly sought after speaker on the subjects of meaningful work, and talent attraction, retention and development. In this guest post, Mapson Bone attempts to allay all our fears about the great AI genie in the workplace…
In an era where AI dominates conversations about the future of work, it is crucial for medialeaders to understand the evolving landscape and the role of human skills. As highlighted by KPMG’s 2023 list of challenges for Australian business, talent acquisition, retention, and upskilling staff to meet a digitised future remains the top challenge for organisations. As governance professionals, understanding the impact of artificial intelligence on the job market and the growing importance of human skills is essential for adapting your organisations to the changing world of work.
Dispelling the ‘Job Apocalypse’ myth
Contrary to popular belief, AI is not poised to “take all the jobs.” While artificial intelligencecontinues to transform numerous occupations by enhancing productivity and efficiency,currently it still lacks the ability to excel in social interaction, unpredictable physical skills, common sense, and general intelligence. Artificial Intelligence‘s current capabilities lie primarily in processing vast amounts of data quickly, thereby assisting with tasks that are repetitive or data-driven. For instance, in my day-to-day world of recruitment, AI-powered tools like ChatGPT can streamline the job–ad writing process, improving efficiency.However, the personal touch and relationship-building aspects of recruitment still require human involvement. Crucially, when thinking about this, it’s not just the lower level roles you need to consider. We have seen examples of AI being used within the legal and medical field, amongst others. From a risk perspective, you need to consider how it can, and will,affect your organisation, and in which areas of your industry the human skills will continue to be needed.
Deloitte predicts that by 2030, two-thirds of all jobs will be soft-skills intensive. With historically low unemployment rates and a continued projected talent shortage, organisations and leaders must focus on nurturing and developing these skills. Failure to address thisshortage of human skills could result in significant unrealised revenue, estimated at US$8.5 trillion globally, according to Korn Ferry. These ‘soft’ or ‘human’ skills include such traits as collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving. Whilst these are transferable skills, they are more difficult to measure and assess than the technical skills that they are replacing. I see this across organisations both in assessing their existing staff or through their recruitment processes. So how can you help to harness these skills in your current and future staff?
Meaningful Work – a catalyst for human skills
Notably, our research into meaningful work, initially conducted in 2019, with nearly 1000 individuals, and followed up in the 2023 analysis with a further 4000 people, shows that engagement in meaningful work significantly improves the development of those human skills. Individuals engaged in meaningful work exhibit higher levels of creativity and collaboration. Meaningful work enhances critical skills like problem-solving and metacognition, leading to a more productive and efficient workforce. Psychological safety, as highlighted by Google’s Project Aristotle, is vital for cultivating collaboration. Workplace safety – physical, mental and emotional – became the number one factor of meaningful work as a result of the pandemic. Organisations must create environments that prioritise safety to enable human skills to flourish. It’s part individual trait and part the environment those individuals are in.
As the workforce demographics shift, the nature of meaningful work will undergo a transformation as well. With the retirement of the Baby Boomer generation and the rise of Generation X in leadership roles, values such as work-life balance and gender equality are expected to gain prominence. Demographer Simon Kuestenmacher suggests that these shifts will lead to a faster reduction in the gender pay gap. Furthermore, the younger workforce, Generation Y, demonstrates a strong desire for meaningful work and a focus on its significance. This generation will be instrumental in filling talent gaps and developing the necessary soft skills. However, with the changing landscape of jobs, their ability and opportunity to learn these skills is crucial. The emphasis on meaningful work among the younger generation presents an exciting opportunity for organisations to create an environment that nurtures human skills and attracts top talent. Those organisations and leaders that do well in this area will separate themselves from the competition.
De-risking for the future of work
While the rise of AI sparks concerns about job displacement, it is essential to recognise the enduring value of human skills in the future of work. Leaders must focus on talent acquisition, retention, and development to address the projected talent shortage. Creating environments that generate meaningful work will not only enhance human skills but also contribute to higher levels of engagement, productivity, and collaboration. As the workforce evolves, embracing the significance of those human skills and the pursuit of meaningful work will be key to navigating the challenges and opportunities presented by the age of AI.