Technology, Automation and Staffing: What Does the Future Hold for Your Workforce?

If you’ve been reading technology and business articles over the last few years, you might be under the impression that automation has thrust the American workforce into the plot of a Terminator movie. Our newsfeeds are jam-packed with eye-catching headlines like, “Is any industry safe from Artificial Intelligence (AI)?”, “Robots are coming for your job.” and “It’s time to stop the machines before it’s too late!”

In truth, the fear of automated bots is mostly understandable.

After all, AI represents a bit of the unknown – which is always a scary thought. Instead of working in predictable, predefined ways, AI technology distinguishes itself by allowing its programming to learn new things independently, growing smarter with every use. According to a recent article, rather than simply gathering information, “AI programs are able to make informed judgements and decisions by recognizing patterns in data.”

Some everyday examples of this concept in action are the popular “smart home” devices that have become more common in living rooms across the United States in the last year. These devices utilize a speaker to allow users to “talk” to an AI assistant that can perform a wide range of household actions, from switching on a lightbulb, to searching for a movie actor’s name. Along the way, the system learns its user’s preferences, figuring out how to compile things like music playlists based on daily patterns and usage. Eventually, this leads to a lower need for human interaction to complete tasks.

If AI could creep into our home lives this easily, it was only a matter of time before the staffing industry saw the benefits (and potential pitfalls) of the automation wave.

According to Bullhorn’s 2018 Staffing & Recruiting Trends Report, 23 percent of staffing and recruiting professionals surveyed said automation was a top priority, with 36 percent citing it as a top challenge. However, at the same time, about 40 percent of respondents said they aren’t currently using automation of any kind to select, screen or keep in contact with candidates.

This reluctance to embrace AI technology and automate the candidate experience may be a reflection of the fear of the robots that has dominated the conversation lately. In fact, 77 percent of job seekers said they prefer human interaction when searching for a job in a recent survey conducted by the America Staffing Association Workforce Monitor. Job seekers agree that the internet has been an extremely helpful tool along the way, and the increased visibility technology provides is equally welcomed, but insecurities over personal privacy still remain.

Looking ahead, the balance between automation and personal touch will be a nuanced challenge for the staffing industry and the business world at large.

While AI technology can help make collecting resumes, screening candidates and developing a highly trained and skilled workforce easier and more efficient, it’s important for businesses to invest wisely and use these tools in way that improves interactions and provides value.

What are your thoughts on technology, automation and the future of the workforce? (If you’re not a robot) we’d hear your thoughts in the comment section below!

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