This article was updated on July 24, 2018.
If the threat of job automation is impacting your organization's ability to attract top talent, it's likely time to revisit your recruitment strategy. Because technology has become a big part of how different industries perform tasks, it can cause a fear of job stability for many employees seeking new positions in these industries. Fear of being replaced by software or an algorithm can cause job seekers to consider switching industries or independently pursue training.
According to the ADP Research Institute (ADP RI) report, The Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workforce, 43 percent of employees believe that "automation will replace employees for repetitive work," immediately, while 51 percent believe this trend is likely to impact the future. Some 37 percent of workers anticipate a lot of personal impact from smart automation and artificial intelligence (AI), while 45 percent have negative emotions about this trend.
Based on these employee perceptions, for HR leaders in highly automated industries, the battle for talent can be particularly challenging.
If Your Industry Relies on Automation
The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) reports that "recruiting difficulty" for key positions has risen significantly across sectors. When coupled with increases in new hire compensation and increases in reported position vacancies, it's clear that many HR leaders are having to fight hard to hire the best candidates. Although HR departments in the most automated industries are no stranger to job seeker skepticism that their position could soon be redundant, the threat of job automation is hardly limited to certain industries or roles.
Automation is not just for sophisticated manufacturing equipment or robots in the industrial sectors. Marketing, sales, recruitment and even management duties are being replaced with sophisticated technologies that replicate common job duties. McKinsey & Company reports that experts can be divided on just how much future automation advancements will affect the workforce and what natural job displacement will look like.
HR leaders should cultivate their organization's talent acquisition strategy to address this fear of automation, mitigating job seeker skepticism about future instability.
Predict the Future — and Communicate It
The role of an executive is to continually look forward. Considering the future of automation and its potential impact on both your industry and organization is important. In many cases, automation technologies are disruptive and, by nature, hard to predict. However, by crafting a vision for what your industry could look like in a decade based on likely technologies and players, HR leaders can shape a recruitment strategy that's geared toward the future.
Questions from job seekers about the possible longevity of their roles are inevitable. What HR leaders truly need to fear, however, is the questions that aren't asked. In your external recruitment communications, don't be afraid to express that your industry is committed to innovation in automation and adopting new value chains as opportunities arise. Most importantly, you should state that you're committed to weathering future changes with your team by teaching employees to utilize new technologies to enhance their opportunities for innovation.
Establish Strong Employee Education Programs
Modern employees value opportunities for growth and development. Deloitte University Press reports that employee education matters as much to talent as compensation. Creating a robust employee education strategy is a powerful tool for retention and recruitment efforts. By demonstrating that you're committed to preparing your existing team for the future, you can relieve the apprehension of employees who may be wary of the threat automation poses to their employment.
Utilizing internal case studies to illustrate how your existing employees have grown and changed as your organization has adopted automation can tell this story in a way that resonates with job seekers. By communicating how your on-the-job training, mentoring and tuition reimbursement programs have helped your existing staff adapt their careers to a changing organization, you can demonstrate that you're invested in your talent for the long haul.
Attracting top talent requires a solid recruitment strategy that highlights your commitment to change, but with your existing people along for the ride. With a combination of honesty about your automation adoption and robust employee education programs, you can surely win over job seekers who are nervous about career stability.