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Future Of Work: How To ‘Future Proof’ Your Job And Career

Feb 25, 2021

getty Due to the coronavirus, new job trends are giving the American workplace a new look, creating what is being called a new frontier. Once the do-over is revealed, what will that frontier look like? MindEdge’s fourth annual national Future of Work study: The New Frontier of the American Workplace, released on February 24, 2021, probed the attitudes of managers to find out how the pandemic has affected the workforce. According to the report, increased automation and upskilling have spurred a greater need for workers to “future-proof” their careers and learn new job skills. MindEdge conducted the online survey during the week of January 11, 2021 and published it on February 24, 2021. The sample included 830 United States residents, 18 or older, who are employed at the level or manager or above. New Health And Safety Changes According to the report, employees who plan to return to their workplaces are likely to encounter new health and safety requirements. Fully 87% of respondents report that their companies have already introduced new health and safety protocols due to Covid-19. A majority of 54% say they expect employees will be required to vaccinate before returning to the workplace. Current guidance from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that vaccine mandates are allowed to ensure a safe workplace for other employees, as long as reasonable accommodations are available to those who are unable to receive the vaccine. According to the report, protecting health and safety was an especially strong motivation in the healthcare (45%) and retail (41%) sectors. But companies in the technology (47%) and manufacturing (42%) sectors introduced new technology mainly as a way to cut costs. Acceleration In Workplace Automation The survey found that 52% of companies increased the use of advanced automation robotics in direct response to the Covid-19 crisis. Among managers whose companies automated in response to the pandemic, 39% say that automation was introduced primarily to protect workers’ health and safety, while 33% say it was mainly a cost-cutting move. Among companies that automated in the last year—whether in response to the pandemic or for other reasons—40% say that workers lost jobs due to the adoption of new technology, while 39% report no job losses and another 10% say that automation created additional jobs and led to more hiring. Automation-related job losses were most prevalent in the technology (57%) sector. Close to half of all managers in the manufacturing (46%) and business products/services (46%) sectors also report job losses resulting from the introduction of new technology. Job Security And ‘Future-Proofing’ The prospect of job losses has led to rising concerns about job security. A majority (53%) of survey respondents report that their employees are “very” or “fairly” concerned about their short-term job security, while 25% of survey respondents say their employees are “not at all” concerned. These figures show significantly higher levels of concern, compared to two years ago. In MindEdge’s 2019 Future of Work survey, just 32% of managers said their employees were “very” or “fairly” concerned about losing their jobs, and fully 38% said they were “not at all” concerned. MORE FOR YOU Employers are quite aware that, despite advancements in technology, automation can’t replace many skills that are essentially human. "Companies increasing the use of robotics in direct response to the Covid-19 crisis is just accelerating what we've already known to be true for years—that automation and robots are reshaping the workplace,” said Jefferson Flanders, CEO of MindEdge Learning. “Yet, employers are realizing that automation can't replace skills rooted in human connection. Which is why it's important to cultivate skills like decision-making and creative thinking to help workers future-proof their careers." The study respondents distinguished certain advantages of human versus automated skills and cited the following skills that set humans apart from robots and advanced technology: Creative thinking (33%)

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