By Patrick Gallen, Partner, People and Change Consulting at Grant Thornton

Several of my colleagues have recently been commenting in the press about the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) on the workforce. Not only will AI and RPA change the nature of our work on a day-to-day basis, they will also influence whom we work for and how long we stay with the same organisation.

Over the past 100 years, the way we work has changed dramatically. Gone are the days where the majority of the workforce were employed in primary and secondary activities.

Advancements in technology have meant that machines have replaced people in many of these areas and the emergence of huge multinational firms has led to an inordinate growth in the number of people working in the third and charitable sector.

The expectations of workers are also evolving. Employees will increasingly demand to work in an organisation that has purpose. They want their future organisation to be forward-thinking and sustainable, one that tackles the key social and environmental issues of our time.


Patrick Gallen
Patrick Gallen

In order for organisations to continue to attract the best talent, it is imperative that they make sure their goals and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) policies are aligned with employees’ goals and concerns, and that they focus on sustainability in order to be an employer of choice.

Employees will also expect lifelong growth in their future careers. They expect to be continuously developed by their organisations and to be always learning, no matter what their position.

In order for organisations to keep up with these needs, they will have to offer employees constant opportunities to grow through blended learning programmes, funding further education, and creating progression opportunities. For employees in the future, the concept of a ‘job for life’ will not exist.

People will change jobs more often, with the average person currently making 12 career changes in their life.

Organisations will need to create excellent organisational cultures, provide work life balance and progression opportunities, in order to encourage employee retention and minimise staff turnover rates.

Remote working is already a key topic of conversation about work, and is sure to continue into the future. Work life balance is becoming increasingly important to workers, with 34% of millennials saying that it is the top priority in a job, placing it ahead of career advancement.

Organisations will have to devise strategies that reflect the needs, both of employees and employers, when it comes to working from home and remotely.

As technology continues to advance, and companies focus on satisfying employees’ desires as well as meeting the needs of clients and customers, it is imperative that organisations prepare for the future by anticipating these trends.

They have to understand employees’ changing needs and consider strategic options to ensure that they attract and retain the best talent, whilst reducing employee turnover to an acceptable level.

In the medium-term, we can help prepare employees for these changes, but we cannot protect jobs that no longer exist.