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  • Aris Federman

Machines, millennials, and more . . . oh my!

By Aris Federman

Originally Published in Words on Wise

Ambitious youth and scary robots: It may sound like the plot of an Arnold Schwarzenegger film, but it’s also an apt description of the workplace in 2019.

Millennials and new technologies have flooded the business world, bringing with them changes in culture, communication, and even job responsibilities. Such a rapid rate of change might spur some employees to adopt an “adapt or die” mindset, while others might feel confused or even left behind. Although it’s easy to spiral down when words like “automation” are thrown around, the future might not be as grim as it sounds.

Change is good

It’s important to recognize that change is a very good thing. Very seldom do entities succeed by failing to adapt. As such, adapting to a digital age is a natural step for companies to take.

The results have been rather inspiring. Implementation of new technologies has brought work communities closer together, increased productivity, and cut down on human error. Mobile devices make it possible to conduct meetings from a distance or to work from home. Online servers replace filing cabinets. Algorithms of different types accurately track trends. Social media has made it easier than ever to reach consumers.

The key is to present new tech for what it is, a tool designed to make the job easier. Employees should understand that embracing the changes brought on by new technologies can make them a powerhouse of unparalleled value in the office.

Robots are dicey

Automation is where things get dicey. The first word that comes to mind when a company says it is going to implement automation? Layoffs. The reduction of jobs due to automation is a startling reality. It’s just as likely, however, that a job will be altered rather than exterminated.

The bank teller example is classic: The ATM didn’t kill off the bank teller, it just shifted the bank teller’s role. Tellers went from counting and dispensing money to dealing with customers and selling products. In fact, due to the ATM, many banks were able to open more branches, which increased jobs for bank tellers.

The real challenge is to help all employees embrace swift changes to job responsibilities. Sometimes, an employee might have to pick up a new skill or even go back to school. Communication is the most valuable commodity. Ensuring employees stay in the loop about upcoming changes and get timely feedback are keys to helping them adapt to the new things their jobs throw at them.

Innovators, creators will thrive

Robots aside, what about young people with air pods and lightning-fast thumbs? As Millennials dominate the workforce, they bring changes in workplace culture. They tend to put a stronger emphasis on diversity and inclusion, engagement, generation of new ideas, and a nonhierarchical organizational structure.

While company culture adapts to accommodate the mentality of the incoming workforce, it’s important to emphasize that change brings with it new opportunities to grow and improve. There’s value to being a problem solver, especially in the new collaborative environments that are popping up in offices everywhere. Valuable communication is key. I say “valuable” because there isn’t much value in complaining about a problem to a coworker. Newer, less rigid work cultures give employees room to be innovators and creators. Make sure your employees take advantage of that.

Millennials are storming the workforce, bringing new values with them. As these changes occur at an ever-increasing pace, it’s important to keep employees informed and encourage them to be open to new things. Change is inevitable, but if you play your cards right, it can be the catalyst for furthering your company’s success.

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