In the future of work it’s jobs, not people, that will become redundant

workers Cambodia

World Bank/Chhor Sokunthea A garment industry worker sews garter to a skirt in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author:  Leena Nair, Chief Human Resources Officer, Unilever

I am likely stating the obvious but it needs to be stated as often as possible – the world is changing and it is changing fast. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is blurring the lines between the real and the technological world and challenging what it means to be human.

Yet people are clearly at the heart of all organizational transformations generated by this phenomenon. We see this, both in the transformation we are driving within Unilever but also when we look outside, across and beyond our industry.

All of this is affects how people will experience work, whether it’s new operating models that challenge hierarchy, new career models that allow for different experiences, a borderless workplace that allows for flexible resourcing, hyper-personalization in the workplace or the need to close a growing skills gap through a culture of lifelong learning.

There are, however, three things that I believe will remain an indisputable and a constant reality through all these changes and they are both grim and reassuring, depending on how you look at them.

  1. An individual’s ability to earn a livelihood is changing and, in most cases, reducing. The impact of automation is redrawing the shape of all organizations. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2018 report suggests the human share of labour hours will drop from 71% to 58% by 2025. Machines and algorithms will increase their contribution to specific job tasks by an average of 57%.

Nearly 50% of companies expect that automation will lead to a reduction of the full-time workforce by 2022. The consumer goods industry is feeling the impact of this faster and more heavily than most other industries and Unilever is no exception.

  1. The demand for human skills is not in decline. There is a net positive outlook for jobs despite significant job disruption, and human skills, as well as jobs with distinctly human traits, are still in demand. According to the Future of Jobs report, 75 million current jobs will be displaced by the shift in the division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms, but 133 million new jobs will be created as well.

I have always believed that technology can be used to help define and complement the human in all of us. As such, the need to keep developing our human capital has not diminished – it can be achieved through the power of purpose, the power of lifelong learning and the ability to harness everyone’s human potential.

  1. Finally, the employee-employer relationship is transforming for two reasons:
  • We are clearly shifting to an increasingly borderless workforce in the form of the networks of people who make a living that is dependent on a specific company but work without any formal employment agreement with said company. Every company’s value chain consists not just of its own employees but millions of others including gig workers, contingent workers, partner employees and more. There is a greater need today than ever before to redefine an organization’s systems to embrace this outer core.
  • We are also dealing with increased human longevity which is creating new challenges of living and working that will require greater flexibility than ever before. Employees need the ability to go in and out of the traditional employee lifecycle, moving from the usual part-time and full-time arrangements to more fluid ones that allow them the flexibility of committing more sporadically while also making time for family, reskilling, the pursuit of a purpose or personal passion, and so on.

When organizational strategies are juxtaposed against the above realities, it becomes clear that companies have a responsibility to address the human impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

We can deliver on this responsibility by:

Committing to generating and sustaining employability across our value chain and not just the inner core, while continuing to drive our organizational transformation through the power of purpose and lifelong learning coupled with radical new ways of reskilling and redeploying talent.

  • Driving transparency, accountability and action in the open talent economy in the form of new labour models that take advantage of this phenomenon in a responsible and sustainable way. There is evidence that suggests a distinct lack of social safety nets in this new labour model from wages to working conditions to diversity issues, and action is needed in this space.Committing to generating and sustaining employability across our value chain and not just the inner core, while continuing to drive our organizational transformation through the power of purpose and lifelong learning coupled with radical new ways of reskilling and redeploying talent.

We need to reimagine the future of work and employment by redefining the employee cycle as well as how workers help deliver our business and create a mechanism that integrates the two.

This is the new social contract of work. Jobs become redundant from time to time but people do not need to. It is possible to create employment for life if we are willing to learn, unlearn and relearn our entire lives.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Governments should step up their efforts to give people skills to seize opportunities in a digital world

How to build a paradise for women. A lesson from Iceland

A Sting Exclusive: Paris Climate Change Summit, a defining moment for humanity, by Ulf Björnholm Head of UNEP Brussels

European elections: A chance to repel both nationalism and no-deal Brexit

UN chief encourages victims of terrorism to ‘raise up their voices’

An analysis of the impacts of climate change on human health

EU-wide rules for safety of drones approved by European Parliament

Statement by the Brexit Steering Group on UK paper on EU citizens in the UK

How do you get people to trust self-driving vehicles? This company is giving them ‘virtual eyes’

The Europeans back Russia-Turkey on Syria: A ‘Waterloo’ for Saudis and their Crown Prince

On World Day to Combat Desertification, UN shines spotlight on ‘true value’ of land

Europe enters uncharted waters with Kiev-Moscow standoff

Are the G20 leaders ready to curb corporate tax-avoidance?

The Middle East needs a technological revolution. Start-ups can lead the way

Distributed ownership: what it means and how it could transform India

UN rights chief ‘alarmed’ by upsurge in attacks against civilians in Syria’s Idlib

ECB should offer more and cheaper liquidity if Eurozone is to avoid recession

High internet taxes are restricting access and slowing economic growth

In Bali, UN chief Guterres outlines importance of international financial cooperation for sustainable development

Why the Fourth Industrial Revolution needs more arts graduates

Global Citizen – Volunteer Internships

INTERVIEW: UN’s top official in North Korea foresees ‘surge’ in humanitarian aid

Inflation and interest rates indicate urgent need for action

Sub10 Systems @ MWC14: Bridging the Ethernet of the Future

What have the banks done to the markets making them unable to bear cheap oil?

IQ scores have been falling for decades, new study finds

“Airbnb and YouTube are two great examples of a crowd based capitalism”, key stakeholders outline the boundaries of the 4th Industrial Revolution in Davos

New EU rules ensure better protection for 120 million holidaymakers this summer

Japan’s holiest shrine is pulled down and rebuilt every 20 years – on purpose

China will be the world’s top tourist destination by 2030

Acute food insecurity ‘far too high’ UN agency warns, as 113 million go hungry

ECOFIN: Choosing between the re-unification of Eurozone and a stalemate

UN chief welcomes agreement by rival leaders in South Sudan, as a step towards ‘inclusive and implementable’ peace

Your chocolate can help save the planet. Here’s how

Here’s how to build energy infrastructures fit for the future

EU-US Privacy Shield data exchange deal: US must comply by 1 September, say MEPs

Does the sharing economy truly know how to share?

Flexible jobs can make work-life balance worse, a German study finds

ECB bets billions on Eurozone’s economic recovery

Brexit and migration dominates the debate on October’s EU summit

Galileo and EGNOS programmes back in orbit powered with €70 billion

4 myths about manufacturing in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

South Korea once recycled 2% of its food waste. Now it recycles 95%

Ηealth’s foundation is falling apart: what can we do about it?

For Youth Rights: steps forward for better protection.

Welfare of transported animals: MEPs urge EU states to do a better job

Governments and non-state actors need to take urgent action to meet Paris Agreement goals

‘Informing is not a crime’ UN chief calls for better protection of journalists, press freedom

Will the European Court of Justice change data privacy laws to tackle terrorism?

Dangers of poor quality health care revealed ‘in all countries’: WHO report

Reality Shock

A Sting Exclusive live from Brussels: Solheim’s consequential visit leading the world and the UN

Security Council extends mandate of UN Interim Force in Lebanon for a year

Fostering defence innovation through the European Defence Fund

How the Middle East is suffering on the front lines of climate change

UN refugee agency presses States to aid 49 refugees stranded on Mediterranean

Air quality: Commission takes action to protect citizens from air pollution

The 28 EU leaders don’t touch the thorny issues

UN condemns ‘heinous’ suicide attack on education centre in Afghanistan

MEPs urge EU states to ensure better care of transported animals

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s