workforce planning & talent management
WHILE MANY ORGANIZATIONS FOCUS SOLELY
ON HOW TECHNOLOGY CAN IMPROVE JOB
PERFORMANCE, IT IS IMPORTANT FOR LEADERS
TO REMEMBER THAT PERFORMANCE CAN ALSO
BE IMPROVED BY CONTINUING TO INVEST IN
DEVELOPING THE MORE HUMAN SKILLS.
certain service-oriented duties (e.g., concierge). While using robots
to replace human workers is not new, in the past the types
of jobs that were replaced were usually physically intensive, and
in today’s world of advanced artificial intelligence (AI), machine
learning and robotics, more knowledge or customer service jobs
are being impacted.
2. AUTOMATING SPECIFIC TASKS OF A JOB
The second way organizations are changing jobs is by using technology
to automate certain tasks. In this scenario, other tasks
associated with the specific job are still performed by a human
worker, and in some cases the worker may supervise the completion
of the automated tasks. Organizations may consider
automation as an option in effort to:
■■ Complete tasks more quickly or accurately
■■ Eliminate low value or unenjoyable work, and free up time for
higher value work
■■ Reduce the number of human workers required
■■ Increase overall productivity of the human worker
For example, in the legal profession, AI is used to do labourintensive
research. Technology is able to do in seconds what it
would take lawyers hours or days to complete. This allows lawyers
to spend time on higher value tasks.
3. ENHANCING EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE
Finally, organizations are also using technology tools to specifically
enhance or super-charge the performance of human workers.
For example, IBM Watson (a cognitive-based computer) is being
used by physicians to identify the best cancer treatment at an individual
patient level. Watson combines attributes from the patient’s
file with clinical expertise, external research and data and identifies
potential treatment plans for a patient that the doctor may not
have otherwise been aware of. The doctor then considers the treatment
options provided by Watson and makes a final decision for
the individual patient.
WHAT HR LEADERS NEED TO DO
While many of these changes to the nature of work have already
begun, the pace of change will only increase. Leaders need to think
about how this next revolution – one where the barriers between
man and machine are eliminated – will impact their organizations,
and identify what they can do both short- and long-term to capitalize
on the opportunity.
HR leaders must:
■■ Understand the types of jobs that exist at all levels of
■■ Look at the tasks associated with each job to understand the
capabilities required to complete the task as well as the time
spent on each task.
■■ Identify jobs and/or activities that technology could help with.
After identifying potential jobs or tasks, the feasibility and business
value of using technology to change the way the work gets done
must be considered. Leaders need to answer questions like:
■■ Is technology to replace the job or automate tasks readily
■■ How easy or difficult is it to find the IT talent to implement
■■ How much will technology cost (versus the cost of
■■ What is the long-term viability of the job or task? Are there
changes occurring in the market that would eliminate the need
for the job altogether?
■■ What are the regulatory implications?
Lee Hecht Harrison Knightsbridge Corp.
a human worker
tasks to improve
efficiency or relieve
effectiveness of a
Figure 1: How technology improves job performance
58 ❚ CONFERENCE ISSUE 2018 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL