Humanizing the changing world of work: A work in progress.

This is the first installment in a series of four-write ups that takes a closer look at what it means to humanize the future of work. It is co-written by Natalija de Jesus, a strategic designer based in Toronto and Hala Beisha, a transformation strategist with a focus on the human factor, who is also based in Toronto.

Image credit: Alvaro Serrano

Is a robot coming for your job?. This is a headline from a CBC article from February 27th of this year. The era of automation is here. A 2017 report by the McKinsey Global Institute found that 50% of the global workforce could be automated by 2055. And a 2018 study by the Brookings Institutesuggests that by 2040, 91% of jobs in the food preparation industry could be done by robots.

In the midst of all this talk about the rise of the machine, we want to take a moment to talk about ‘the human factor’. Our objective is to clarify and explain facts. Although the outlook for human workers seems dire, research suggests that people will continue to play an important role in the workforce of the future, as only 5% of the jobs have the potential to be fully automated.

Jobs, Meaning and Purpose

Automation might change the makeup of our workplaces, but the principles of human motivation will remain the same. We will still want to be fulfilled by our jobs, still crave meaning and purpose. Organizations now more than ever will need to figure out, implement and design enduring practices to maintain employee engagement and participation as our relationship with technology expands.

Why Engagement Matters

There is a growing trend in North America that shows that companies are investing less in individual employees, due to financial pressures and employee turnover. At the same time, according to the Gallup State of American Workplace Study 2016USD 480–600 billion a year is lost as the workforce struggles with low levels of motivation This is a scenario that has long term negative outcomes for both employees and organizations.

Two Complementary Frames

In this series of posts we share highlights of our work and research with a focus on motivation in the workplace. We take a closer look and explore how professionals and employees can take control of their career narrative, skills development and career iteration. This research is based on the authors’ Master Research Projects in fulfillment of the requirement for a Master of Design in Strategic Foresight and Innovation at OCAD University in Toronto, Ontario.

Our work offers two distinct yet complementary frames. One of the co-authored projects examines the role of the individual professional, their career iteration, and the trends impacting and shaping the world of work. The other project examines how organizations can optimize performance by activating motivation and, as a result, creating sustainable work practices and cultures.

This series is not meant to be prescriptive. It seeks to offers insights for inspiration and tangible takeaways to start meaningful conversations that can move the dial for both individuals and organizations.