I am not sure that any HR futurist can tell us how many jobs will be displaced by automation over the next 5, 10, or 20 years. The answer is clearly more than zero. The latest example of this can be read here. The theme of the article is, “Really, a formula can make predictions better than a person’s intuition?” In psychology (well, industrial psychology), we have only known this since the mid-1950s (see this book), so I can see why the idea is just catching on.
Any kind of judgment that is made based on accumulating data will ALWAYS be more accurate over time when done by a machine than a person. This is because the machine is not biased by what has happened most recently, how impacted it is by the decision, how attractive the others who are involved are, etc. While this type of analysis is somewhat difficult for people to do consistently well, it is simple math for a computer. There is really no reason, besides stroking someone’s ego, to have humans do it.
As computers continue to remove the computational portions of jobs, such as analyzing trends, making buying decisions, they will impact HR in the following ways:
• Fewer customer facing jobs to manage, but more IT related ones.
• Many of the remaining jobs will require less cognitive ability and more interpersonal skills. This is because these employees could potentially spend more time meeting specific customer needs and being the interface between end users and the algorithms.
• The key predictors of job success would potentially become conscientiousness, agreeableness, and customer service orientation rather than problem solving ability.
• Developing a validating a different set of pre-employment tests.
• Recruiters will need to source people with very specific skills (cognitive ability for programmers and willingness to get along with others for many other jobs).
The challenge to industrial psychology continues to be developing more valid measures of personality. Tests of cognitive ability predict job performance about twice as well as those of “soft” skills, even in those that already have a high personality component (such as customer service). This also means developing better measures of performance (e.g., how interpersonal skills impact business outcomes).
Or, maybe the robots will do it for us.