Leaders need to prepare for hybrid AI workforce

Leaders need to prepare for hybrid AI workforce

The transition to a hybrid “human-AI” workforce will be the biggest strategic challenge facing UK business leaders over the next five years, new research warns.

And, as the adoption of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and automation accelerate across industries, two thirds of business leaders (67 per cent) fear their organisations will become irrelevant if they fail to move towards a hybrid workforce.

According to Capita People Solutions research, nearly three-quarters of business leaders (72 per cent) see the “human-to-hybrid” transition as their most important priority, while 93 per cent acknowledge that they need to start proactively managing the shift to a hybrid workforce this year.

The study defines Human to Hybrid as “the new dynamic where humans will work in a fully digitised and technologically-optimised environment, and increasingly work alongside robots and AI, over the next 10 years”.

Interviews with 500 leaders of medium- and large-sized businesses showed that the role of HR will need to radically change. More than 90 per cent of leaders feel that improving a whole organisation’s ability to learn and change is important or extremely important, while 88 per cent said upskilling their staff was a priority, including in entirely new job categories.

Meanwhile, the survey of 2,000 company staff also shows that they cannot afford to fail – with half of UK employees (51 per cent) reporting that they will choose to leave their organisation if it doesn’t manage the transition to a hybrid workforce well and continue to offer opportunities to progress.

This is another facet of digital transformation and one that needs to be led from the very top

The report also underscores the need for organisations to approach the Human to Hybrid shift in a “considered and structured way”, with leadership from the very top. It shows that 88 per cent of business leaders agree that that in order to drive a successful transition to more automated working they must invest in a three-pronged approach of developing:

  • the skills and capabilities of their people
  • their use of digital technology
  • their use of data gathering and analysis.

“The shape and make-up of workforces across all industries will change dramatically over the next few years and business leaders have to get on the front foot to manage this transition,” said Erika Bannerman, executive officer at Capita People Solutions.

“Investing in AI and automation is not enough to build a sustainable or productive hybrid workforce; organisations also need to ensure they have the skills, cultures and processes in place to work alongside this technology. It has to be a people-first approach, where innovative technology is used to support, enable and empower a highly-skilled, motivated and agile human workforce to deliver higher value work.”

Richard Chiumento, director of Rialto Consultancy, underlined that it will be leadership not technology that helps organisations to gain competitive edge with the hybrid human-AI workforce.

“This is another facet of digital transformation and one that needs to be led from the very top,” he said. “The research findings show that the stakes are extremely high with organisations at risk of losing swathes of talent if they aren’t able to manage the transition to the new human-AI workforce successfully. And it won’t just be the company that becomes irrelevant but themselves as leaders, too.”

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