Jobs in Demand Can’t Be Automated.

The evidence that many forms of traditional work are getting automated and outsourced is mounting. Basically, jobs in the 21st century workplace are moving from simple and manual to complex and knowledge-based.

Another way of putting it is based on what Gary Hamel describes as the Creative Economy. We have moved from:

  • Industrial Economy based on physical capital
  • Information Economy based on information
  • Creative Economy based on ideas

When dealing with work problems we can categorize the response as either Jobs in Demand Can't Be Automated.   known or new. Known problems require access to the right information to solve them. This information can be mapped, and frameworks such as knowledge management help us to map it. We can also create tools to do work and not have to learn all the background knowledge in order to accomplish the task. This is how simple knowledge gets automated. Any job that deals with the routine and repeatable is at risk for being replaced by software and offshoring.

On the other hand, work that is valued, and therefore creates high-demand jobs, is in facing the complex and complicated, not in addressing problems that have already been solved. There will always be however complex problems that cannot be solved through automation.

Complex, new problems need tacit knowledge to solve them. Exception-handling is becoming more important in the 21st century workplace. The system handles the routine stuff and people, usually working together, deal with the exceptions. As these exceptions get addressed, some or all of the solution can get automated, and so the process evolves.

The competitive marketplace, with its growing complexity due to our inter-connectivity, requires that the modern and future workforce focus on new problem solving and exception-handing. Valued skills will be needed for managing, interpreting, validating, transforming, communicating and acting on ambiguous and fast changing information. Results will depend upon collaboration (working together on a problem) and cooperation (sharing without any specific objective). Workers with these skills can perform tasks requiring a level of action that can’t be automated easily.

A recent white paper (Future of Work) published by Vistage summed up the challenge nicely:

One challenge for organizations is getting people to realize that what they know has little value. How to solve problems together is becoming the real business imperative. Sharing and using knowledge is where business value lies. With computer systems that can handle more and more of our known knowledge, the 21st century worker has to move to the complex and chaotic edge to get the real (valued & paid) work done. In 50 years, this may not be an issue, but right now there are many people who need help with this challenge. This is the important work of leaders everywhere: enabling the current workforce to enter the 21st century.

Learn How to Applicants Test General Mental Abilities.

 

This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page.

 

More Sales, Lower Turnover? Hire Higher Cognitive Abilities.

Ask an employer to name one characteristic that makes one employee stand out above all others and he’ll likely say attitude, work ethic, or team player. Unfortunately up until now, few of these employers could really prove what traits and attitude differentiated employees that positively impacted the bottom line from those that didn’t.

But an article in this month’s issue of HR Magazine cited how Bon-Ton, a department store chain, helped identify specific traits of candidates that could sell more per hour and reduce turnover. Most importantly, the result allowed them to do both. Up to this point, many HR managers and subsequently their employers were satisfied to accomplish one or the other. In today’s world, a top performing salesperson must be able to do both – sell more and stay longer.

According to the article, once Bon-Ton’s cosmetic sales group developed and implemented pre-employment assessment tests in their hiring process, the company was able to increase tenure by 12 percent and accomplished a 3 percent more sales-per-hour with the first year.

Cognitive AbilitiesWhat was most surprising though was that it wasn’t customer service, communication style, or attitude that correlated most closely with lower turnover and higher sales. The single most important trait was cognitive ability. While good customer service and sales experience were important, the ability to take information from the customer and immediately solve their problem was the key differentiator and competitive edge. One of the consultants interviewed for the article explained that cognitive ability predicts the capacity to alter the selling style to suit the customers and capitalize on each sales opportunity. In other words, cognitive ability, sometimes called general reasoning and general mental ability, help people connect the dots and learn on their feet.

Like Bon-Ton, many employers are learning the value of pre-employment assessment tests in helping improve performance, productivity, and retention. In fact, spending on assessments of job candidates and existing employees rose about 20 percent last year, according to Workforce Magazine.

Learn more about pre-employment tests – contact us today for a free consultation or demo.


This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page.