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Five Links: The Rapid Evolution of HR and Tech Jan 29, 2014

This week’s links point to a tidal wave of change. Jobs are being rapidly automated, new productivity tools are emerging, the science of psychology is finally maturing and basic HR functions are being used to drive financial growth. photo credit: michael-|-ruiz on flickr.com

These links point to a tidal wave of change. Jobs are being rapidly automated, new productivity tools are emerging, the science of psychology is finally maturing and basic HR functions are being used to drive financial growth.

  • The Future of Jobs: The Onrushing Wave
    There is a ton of debate going on about the meaning of the pace of technological change. Optimists point to 200 years of history in which technology always provided improved circumstances. This piece from the Economist takes a dimmer view. You can see the emergence of the fear that automation will eliminate work all over the HR blogosphere.
    "These jobs may look distinctly different from those they replace. Just as past mechanisation freed, or forced, workers into jobs requiring more cognitive dexterity, leaps in machine intelligence could create space for people to specialize in more emotive occupations, as yet unsuited to machines: a world of artists and therapists, love counsellors and yoga instructors. Such emotional and relational work could be as critical to the future as metal-bashing was in the past, even if it gets little respect at first. Cultural norms change slowly. Manufacturing jobs are still often treated as "better"–in some vague, non-pecuniary way–than paper-pushing is. To some 18th-century observers, working in the fields was inherently more noble than making gewgaws."
  • What Jobs Will The Robots Take?
    The Atlantic is generally more alarmist (sells more copies) than the economist. That explains the drama in the headline. This piece is a response to the Economist.
  • Focus@will
    Originally, elevator music had roots in the idea that the sonic landscape was home to productivity improvement. Today, the idea is being taken to its logical extreme by services like focus@will. Of course this is HR software.
  • BeingHuman.org
    This nicely designed web magazine is a trove of material about human beings and being human. Why isn’t HR about this stuff?
  • Thinking Outside The Big Box
    Should HR be advocating for higher wages in the workforce? How many HR leaders would keep their jobs if that became a ‘thing’? This piece, from the New York Times Magazine, is a puff piece for Kronos and its emerging approach to workforce management in retail.
    While the author glosses over the hard work and analysis required to get this sort of data driven scheduling in place, Kronos is certain to be in the market with a better visualization. More than anything, the real story here is that any HR Department that isn’t focused on top line growth (making the company money) is a cost center headed for outsourcing.
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