Career Path

Will Automation Kill Your Job?

Artificial intelligence is changing the way we work. Why you shouldn’t panic, and instead, embrace it. 

Not too many words strike more fear in employees than the word automation. We see ourselves being replaced by robots that’ll make excel spreadsheet calculations and scheduled social media posts look antiquated.  Already, about 49% of activities that employees have assigned throughout the day could be replaced with technologies already in existence, according to consulting firm McKinsey.  

One of the biggest issues with automation is the tension between innovation and execution.

But amid all the scare, career pros say automation doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be out of a job. It really just means your work will change—and perhaps for the better. “Having a broader awareness of the way automation will shift work can seem initially threatening,” says Mark Royal, a senior director at Korn Ferry. “But it could also have an opportunity associated with it.” Below, a look at ways to capitalize on an automated workplace.    

See the upside.

While your initial reaction may be another, “not again” groan to a system change, you could instead view it as a way to free you up to focus on other parts of your job that you find more engaging. “It can enable you to focus on other areas in ways that before you weren’t able to,” Royal says.

Doctors, for example, use automated scheduling tools and patient portals that allow people to input their own health concerns prior to getting to the office. This gives them more time for one-on-one interactions with patients. 

Work through the pain points.

One of the biggest issues with automation is the tension between innovation and execution. With new technology, there’s always a struggle to migrate the entire company from one platform to the next because that migration messes up people’s routines, and therefore their expectations of how things work.  Having an awareness that there will be an adjustment period, and that certain things may be in flux for a bit, is key to your success.

Dive into the data.

One of the benefits of automated systems is the ability to track metrics that can help make business decisions—whether you’re an entry-level employee or a CEO. That’s led to the rise of more decision-making being made by data, instead of just you’re your intuition.

But that data is also going beyond business decisions and into employee engagement. The hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, for example, has implemented an AI-run management coach that give higher-ups advice on how to handle an employee’s personal or professional problem.

Be mindful of how you’re tracked.

To that end, it’s important to keep in mind what data your company has about you—and your next job moves. IBM CEO Ginni Rometty recently revealed that the company has AI technology that is about 95% accurate in predicting workers who are planning to leave their jobs, all in an effort to improve employee retention.

While she didn’t divulge how the technology works, the point is that companies are now analyzing and collecting more data points of yours than ever before. So if you’re going to be job hunting, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t be doing so at work.