Two-thirds of business leaders fear that their organisation could become irrelevant if they fail to move to a “hybrid” workforce.
According to research by Capita People Solutions, a successful transition to a combined human and artificial intelligence, or hybrid, workforce is the most important priority for 72% of leaders in the next five years.
In its survey of 500 leaders of medium and large-sized businesses, 93% said they need to start proactively managing that shift this year.
More than 90% believe that improving their organisation’s ability to learn and change is important or extremely important, while 88% said upskilling their staff was a priority, including training them for job roles and categories that don’t even exist yet.
Capita People Solutions also surveyed more than 2,000 employees: more than half (51%) would leave their organisation if it did not manage the transition to a human-AI workforce or continue to offer opportunities to progress, it found.
Forty-six per cent of workers worried that more AI would mean a lack of human interaction at work, while 23% thought it could lead to a less inclusive and diverse workforce.
Many saw the potential positives, however: 44% thought the prospect of a hybrid workforce would mean the chance to learn new skills, 40% thought it would bring greater flexibility, and 32% said it would create more interesting and varied work.
In terms of managing change, almost nine in 10 leaders felt a successful transition to a hybrid working environment would require a three pronged approach of digital technology, data, and understanding the skills and capabilities of their people.
More than a third (34%) said overcoming employee resistance would be one of the main problems with managing the transition, while 28% said it would be a lack of confidence in new technologies. More than a quarter pointed to a lack of leadership in their organisation in this area.
Erika Bannerman, executive officer at Capita People Solutions, said that business leaders needed “to get on the front foot to manage this transition”.
“Investing in AI and automation is not enough to build a sustainable or productive hybrid workforce; organisations also need to ensure they have the skills, cultures and processes in place to work alongside this technology,” she said. “It has to be a people-first approach, where innovative technology is used to support, enable and empower a highly-skilled, motivated and agile human workforce to deliver higher value work.”
“That means business and HR leaders listening to their employees and engaging in a meaningful dialogue around these future workforce dynamics, being open and transparent about their vision and plans, and motivating and engaging their people to thrive in this future world of work.”
Three-quarters of business leaders said they would welcome more advice from the government on how to approach AI and the hybrid workforce in a sustainable way.
Bannerman added: “The organisations that will thrive in the future will be those that can identify, recruit and retain the skills they need to compete, and develop learning cultures which ensure they have the agility and speed to adapt to changing market conditions and opportunities.
“This can only be achieved with the right learning cultures and an unrelenting focus on delivering a first-rate employee experience throughout the organisation.”