Humans and machines must work together in future workplace

Humans and machines must work together in future workplace

PwC says human skills will help firms use digital technologies to their competitive advantage

Rebecca Gibson |

Success in the future automated world will depend on humans and machines working together, rather than one replacing the other, according to PwC.

PwC’s 20th CEO Survey highlights that 52% of CEOs say they’re exploring the benefits of humans and machines working together, and 39% are considering the impact of artificial intelligence on the human skills that will be essential in the future workplace.

The growth of automation will eliminate some roles and change others, which will require organisations to rebalance human capital and retrain employees so they have the skills they need.

“Getting people strategy right in a world where humans and machines work alongside each other will be the biggest challenge leaders will ever face,” said Jon Williams, leader of PwC’s global People and Organisation practice. “It’s the role of business leaders to protect and nurture the employee-employer relationship throughout this turbulent time, without it, organisations will struggle to find and keep the people they need. The challenge for CEOs is to show that in the technological age, humans are their priority.”

According to PwC’s survey, 77% of CEOs see the availability of key skills as the biggest business threat. Today’s in-demand skills are exclusively human capabilities – adaptability, problem solving, creativity and leadership. Already, 78% of CEOs are actively taking steps to improve their access to talent and changing their people strategy to reflect the skills and employment structure they need for the future.

PwC recommends five key areas that business leaders should work on to ensure their talent strategy will meet future challenges.

“Scenario planning is a powerful tool to prepare your organisation for a future where no outcome can be safely dismissed as unlikely,” said Williams. “Prepare your HR function for the recruitment challenge – as our 20th CEO Survey highlights, people and skills are essential in the machine age and competition for good talent is intense.”

He added: “The demand for soft skills is high; nurturing them is a priority for your business, alongside ensuring you deliver the right experience for your people – it’s essential that each element of this is monitored and understood. Finally, work on trust – with a purpose. Does your organisation have a clear purpose, and where does it fit into society?”

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