Humans v. Robots

PicassoHR Ltd, HR Consultancy, Ipswich, Newsletter Article, Humans v. Robots

Rapid changes in technology have affected businesses in more ways than we can count, from globalisation and organisational changes to heightened business security and enabling remote working. Whilst you would imagine most of the changes to have a positive effect on businesses, the impact of technology and people is a topic that is up for debate. While some have predicted large-scale job losses, others have challenged this view by suggesting that new technologies will enhance and extend human capabilities rather than remove them from the process completely.

What jobs are at risk? 

According to the CIPD, 30% of jobs in the UK are potentially at risk from breakthroughs in artificial intelligence. In some sectors 50% of the jobs could go:

  • 2.25 million jobs are at high risk in wholesale and retailing
  • 1.2 million jobs are at risk in manufacturing
  • 1.1 million jobs are at risk in administrative and support services
  • 950,000 jobs are at risk in transport and storage

Being ‘at risk’ of breakthroughs in artificial intelligence shouldn’t automatically be seen as a negative. The CIPD predict that automation could boost productivity and create fresh job opportunities. However, there is a need for action to prevent the widening of inequality that would result from robots increasingly being used for low-skill tasks.

Technology will continue to mould the future world of work. That’s a fact. Organisations therefore need to adapt to such changes swiftly. If HR are to continue to play a vital role in supporting organisations, anticipate and manage organisational change, then it must get to grips with this changing landscape and have technology at its core. Times of change can be daunting and whilst it is incumbent that employers and HR try to ensure such changes are implemented within the workplace as smoothly as possible, employees will need to take ownership of their own technical capabilities and prepare themselves for what’s to come.

What can you do to adapt? 

With the speed of the changes taking place, many workers find themselves overwhelmed trying to keep up with the various new systems, new software and technological processes used throughout the workplace.  If you have difficulty learning to use a new program or if the virtual receptionist has locked you out of the office again, aside from regular and continuous training, you need to proactively stay ahead of the curve:


Read up on the most recent technological developments in your field. Make the most of the resources available to you and get ahead of the changes by doing your research. There are hundreds of publications, blogs and websites out there written for workers in your field.

Ask your IT support team to talk you through what they are doing anytime they assist you with a technical problem.  You’ll soon understand how to solve the problem yourself if you take note of the error and the solution – saving yourself and them a lot of time with any future issues.

Make your employer aware that you are keen to stay up to date with technological changes in your field and explore the option of attending training events or workshops on behalf of the company.


Take responsibility for your own development. Ask your manager to explain the systems in place in your workplace on your first day of work or as soon as a new system is introduced. Don’t procrastinate, dive in and start learning – the more time you allow yourself to absorb the new information the easier it will sink in. You’ll get off on the right foot and will be able to ask any question you may have early on.

Centralise your technology. Create a list of all the programs you use and why. Highlight any redundant uses on the list and try to withdraw from using anything you no longer need. If this is a possibility in your workplace, it will improve cost, allow standardisation and of course cut down on valuable time spent training on multiple systems.

Be honest and address any issues you have as they occur. If you are struggling to get to grips with new technology, speak to your manager and explain exactly what part of the function you’re finding difficult so that any problems can be addressed and resolved quickly. You’ll feel better for it and will be prepared for any similar issues in the future.

How will the changes effect HR? 

As organisations evolve and the implementation of emerging technologies start to take form, human resources will have a critical role in ensuring that the changes carry positive outcomes for their people. Therefore, HR professionals must have the knowledge and insights to enable their organisations to make informed decisions, ensure the utilization of new technologies is in the interest of both the employer and the employees and to identify the changing expectations of both parties.

HR will also have the task of analysing and remedying any skills gap within their organisations and work towards building and maintaining a skilled workforce who can work with new technologies and processes. Businesses will be encouraged to be experimental when it comes to emerging technologies and be open to learning from others who have made progress in this area.

While most of the stories in the media seem to paint a dreary picture of the future world of work and technology – focusing on the idea that many humans will be made redundant in the years to come – many organisations have predicted that technology will allow for some degree of role expansion by increasing the roles that people are already doing, particularly in the healthcare and transportation sectors. With this in mind, it is essential for HR professionals to put the emphasis back on people and lay the framework in which humans and technology can continue to co-exist and thrive in an environment where technology compliments the work people are already doing and making jobs more meaningful.