CHANGING TIMES

The future of work

HR needs to be included in the top table discussion

In Summary

•We are beginning to see the HR Manager evolve into something  more useful

•Most digital transformation failures occur because employees haven’t been properly prepared

Last Friday I celebrated with the first Amalgam Leadership Programme graduates www.amalgamleadership.com.

Throughout their year, this class has pursued four learning themes - leadership, finance, marketing and technological transformation. And the most common theme that has emerged in all the teaching and discussion has been the importance of mastering the emotional dimension in business. Of being as strong at EQ as you are at IQ.

So, how does that square with the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence in the workplace? Will we emotional humans soon be irrelevant?

The latest Microsoft UK research, Maximising the AI Opportunity, shows "a staggering 68 per cent of HR professionals believe automating routine tasks will create more time for meaningful work".

So, what truly matters remains your people and how you select and develop them for roles as yet unimagined. Whatever comes to face in the future world of work, soft skills like human empathy and judgement will become even more valuable to them.

The ability to collaborate freely in dispersed teams; to shape customer experience ahead of demand. The judgement required to take risk without looking for direction in historic data trends. These are all things that humans, and only humans, can do.

In Africa, we are beginning to see the HR Manager evolve into something altogether more useful - the HR Business Partner. Our most forward-thinking companies are acknowledging that the way Human Resource and Talent Managers have been kept out of the commercial conversation is wrong.

HR needs to be included in the top table discussion. Helping leaders transform internal cultures world of work, developing innovative ways of learning that keep pace with (or better still, outrun) rapid business change. There’s already a mountain of evidence to show that most digital transformation failures occur because employees haven’t been properly prepared for a truly technology-enabled environment.

Recently I had to make a medical insurance claim. The Relationship Manager at my brokerage was excited to tell me that I could now apply for claims more easily using a smart new App created by the underwriter. Nothing could have been further from the truth. It took several weeks just to log in. Human record keepers had not updated my email address in the depths of the system.

When the claim was submitted, I waited again. Then I realised that the Relationship Manager was using new technology to avoid doing her old job. In fact, she assumed that I would do it for her, through the magic of technology.

Finally, the only way to resolve the claim was a face-to-face meeting!

Chris Harrison is the Africa Partner of The Brand Inside. 

www.thebrandinside.com