Blog Post

3 Reasons Why the Future of Work is People-First

By: Marco Campana
August 22, 2019

Ok, the original title of the article I’m paraphrasing here is 3 Reasons Why the Future of Emerging Markets Is People-First. It’s an excellent and interesting piece (by global consultancy Mercer), you should read it.

When I read it, two things occurred to me

  1. The 3 reasons are a fit for human services. By that I mean, with slight modification, the reasons are workplace related.
  2. If the author is right, these are the cities and economies that will produce our future migrants, and citizens, and we should be aware of what their experiences might be, because they will impact and enrich ours (just as they do now).

So, the 3 reasons (with my slight modifications for the workplace):

  1. Build your organization around people.
  2. Don’t discard valuable assets (such as staff!). There will always be a place for good talent in good places.
  3. Look for what will carry you into the future, not what’s carried others in the past. Yes, what worked before may work again. But more often than not, things are changing, and we need to look forward at how to not only change with it, but make the change work for us.

According to the Mercer report, “People First: Driving Growth in Emerging Megacities,” we need to look at and design technology with humans in mind. Not robots. Not AI.

Our competitive advantage is people.

This isn’t a new sentiment.

Much of the current writing on AI is about how AI will replace some human functions, but just as much on how important humans will remain (and perhaps more so) in the future. Current writing also emphasizes the importance of the choices we make now about AI, innovation and technology. It’s not all quite as out of our control as the tech bros might want you to believe.

As the 3 reasons article suggests:

“The well-worn axiom that AI will transform the future of work is more true today than ever before, but it misrepresents how the future will be transformed. What may start as a race to adopt and leverage AI in the workplace will inevitably end in a saturation of technology: As soon as one firm unlocks the full potential of automation, it’ll be a matter of time before their competitors replicate the model.

Who wins in a world where AI is in every office? The organizations with the best talent. Consumer and workforce demands will inevitably adapt to an AI-empowered future, and the real differentiator will be the human skills, such as critical thinking, emotional intelligence and creative problem solving, paired with technology.”

What does this mean for you in the immigrant and refugee-serving sector?

We need to be (or become) very aware not only of the technology and innovation trends that will impact us, but also how we cultivate (i.e. up- and re-skill) current workforces as well as hire for what’s next.

It may be quite OK that you’re not an early adopter when it comes to this stuff. Maybe when it comes to organizational innovation and technology our organizations are the “emerging markets” this article references.

I think that’s OK. As along as we don’t remain complacent.

Imagine (to again paraphrase the article) you’re tasked with creating a brand-new organization from scratch. “Think wisely, because your next decision may determine the fate of your [organization’s] inhabitants for generations to come… [You] may not be starting from scratch, but tomorrow’s [organizations] face a similar potential for dynamic growth and expansion as yesterday’s [large, mainstream organizations]. What should be their number-one priority when focusing on future development? People.”

Good food for thought. Go read the article with the lens that you are the emerging market. See what it might stir in you.

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