The future of work is here today.
Continual evolvement of technology and artificial intelligence (AI) has already begun to displace workers around the globe. While waves of employees aren't currently losing their jobs to robots, a clear shift has begun to occur.
Companies are increasingly choosing to forego the traditional full-time employment contract in favor of "alternative work arrangements," temporary workers, and independent contractors. The shift has been positive for many businesses, sometimes significantly increasing revenues. However, the impact on employees has created concern for all parties involved.
The Dark Side of the "Gig Economy"
The rise of the so-called "gig economy" has repercussions beyond hourly wages. Full-time benefits and protections like minimum wage, health insurance, overtime pay, and retirement plans were designed to give American workers a basic standard of living and a sustainable level of financial stability. The shift away from this traditional work setting has left many employees in the lurch.
Despite the potential downfalls, it looks like the "future of work" is here to stay.
Parties representing both employers and employees have started taking action to deal with the fallout.
McKinsey Global Institute predicts that over the next 12 years, as many as 375 million workers worldwide will need to make some sort of job change due to automation.
America's largest employee union organization, the AFL-CIO, addressed the issue earlier this year during its first meeting of the Commission on the Future of Work and Unions.
In an attempt to secure the future of the American worker, the AFL-CIO is calling for the development of stronger unions. Their focus is on addressing the "inequality of power" and helping workers confront their impending economic insecurity.
The commission will work throughout 2018, collecting data and research that will be used to create a formal recommendation which will be released in February of 2019.
Government and Employer Initiatives
Business advocates from labor law firm Littler Mendelson and Washington lobbyists' Prime Policy Group recently announced the formation of a coalition focused on representing employers' interests.
Under the Trump administration, the Department of Labor (DOL) has placed its focus on apprenticeship programs to prepare American workers for the jobs of the future. Littler and Prime's coalition is urging the government to work with other agencies on the formation of a strategic plan to address the upcoming "technology-induced displacement of employees" (TIDE).
The initiative focuses on training workers in automated systems, so they are prepared for employment opportunities following the impending technology-related layoffs. Littler and Prime, who represent corporate giants like Tesla, Amazon, Walmart, Google, GlaxoSmithKline, and Chrysler, are sure to be at the forefront of the movement.
The Bottom Line
While lawmakers and advocacy groups are leading the way in addressing this massive shift, employers shouldn't simply sit by and wait. Take action today to put both your business and your employees in the best possible position to take advantage of rapidly-evolving technology. Stay on top of changes, implement top-notch training programs, and prepare to embrace a future that's clearly already here.