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Automation and Robots have arrived. Here’s how you can prepare your workforce for it.

It’s no secret now that automation and robotic solutions will increasingly become an integral part of any factory. With the productivity gains that these solutions can afford, more manufacturers are embracing the use of automation tools and robots on the factory floor.

Importantly, as we integrate these new ways of working, we have to consider the human element in the equation as well. How prepared is the workforce to use these new tools? Do your employees have the skills required to operate automation and robotic solutions? Are employees ready to make the change to working alongside their robotic counterparts?

One of the top concerns employees would be whether robots will replace their jobs. According to a 2020 World Economic Forum report, it was predicted that robotics and automation will displace 85 million jobs globally in the next five years. Yet, the report also predicted that the same technologies will create another 97 million new jobs, typically those requiring more skills and education.

As such, employees understanding how they can work together with robots and leverage the opportunities in this new technological era is key to a successful digital transformation into the automation and robotic future.

Encourage employees to join upskilling or reskilling training programmes

Digital skills will be the currency in the digital first future. Particularly in the manufacturing and tech industry, skills that can enable employees to deploy robotic machinery will be in high demand.

Manufacturers should consider investing in upskilling or reskilling training programmes for existing employees, instead of replacing them with new hires instantly. Automation and robotic solutions free up manpower from mundane, repetitive tasks, giving way for employees to dedicate more time to meaningful and business-critical jobs. Training programmes are essential in helping employees move into these new jobs that are created as a by-product of the automation and robotic future.

As the demand for top talent continues to rise globally, investing in training programmes can also help to boost talent retention rates, and build employee trust as well.

Communicate benefits clearly to employees

On top of new workplace opportunities, robots also serve to provide other benefits to the workforce.

For instance, automation helps workers keep track of tedious data sets and reduce human errors, thereby helping workers generate more accurate reports and make better decisions. Robots can also operate in environments that may be hazardous for employees, improving workplace safety and preventing injuries.

Communicating these benefits to employees can help to reduce automation anxiety, and understand they can collaborate with robots to create a better working environment.

Business leaders need to plan ahead

The digital future is evolving faster each year. We’ve seen an exponential growth in technological advances in the last few decades, a trend that is likely to continue, and even accelerate, in the coming years.

As such, it is critical that leaders think ahead and make plans to progress into this new digital territory together with all employees.

An adaptable, agile, and flexible workforce is one that will thrive in uncertain conditions. As the world deals with multiple issues, such as the healthcare crisis, geopolitical tensions, and the economic recession, we need to be prepared for new and unexpected situations and ways of working to takeover what we’re used to.

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