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Augmented workforce is not the future – it’s happening now

An estimated 87% of executives expect job roles to be augmented, rather than replaced, by generative AI. This trend varies across sectors, with more than 90% in procurement, risk and compliance, and finance expecting augmentation.

Alexandros Pantelakis
Alexandros Pantelakis

HR content specialist at Workable, delivering in-depth, data-driven articles to offer insights into industry and tech trends.

psychological safety at work

Whenever you are asked the question “Will AI take my job?”, the answer might be, “No, thanks to the augmented workforce.” 

If you are not familiar with the term, then it is about time to explain what an augmented workforce is, how skills and reskilling are playing a pivotal role in shaping the present and future of work, and whether all these advancements can secure your job. 

What is an augmented workforce?

The concept of an augmented workforce transcends the traditional boundaries of human and machine collaboration. It represents a sophisticated blend where human intellect and emotional intelligence are amplified by AI’s computational power. 

AI is not a substitute but a complement to human skills, taking on repetitive and mundane tasks and freeing humans to engage in more complex, creative, and strategic endeavors.

This synergy is not about replacing human effort but about enhancing and expanding human capabilities.

This synergy is not about replacing human effort but about enhancing and expanding human capabilities. 

For instance, IBM’s report, “Augmented Work for an Automated, AI-driven World,” states that 40% of the workforce will require reskilling in the next three years due to AI and automation’s impact. Are the HR teams ready for it? 

Related: Workforce planning strategy in the AI-driven economy

The augmented workforce model

The emergence of the augmented workforce is a response to the rapidly evolving business landscape, characterized by a need for agility, innovation, and heightened productivity. 

This model is already being adopted across various industries, as evidenced by insights from the recent report, “Augmented Workforce: Empowering People, Transforming Manufacturing”, by the Economic World Forum in collaboration with the University of Cambridge. That report illustrates the tangible benefits of this integration, such as a 300% improvement in ergonomics and a 50% increase in quality. 

These statistics not only highlight the efficiency gains but also the enhancement in employee well-being and safety.

Moreover, the deployment of augmented reality (AR) and other technologies has led to a 70% reduction in training costs and a 20% efficiency gain, as per the same report. 

This demonstrates the profound impact of AI in streamlining training processes and improving operational efficiency, making a compelling case for the augmented workforce model.

Applying AI and augmentation technologies

The integration of AI and augmentation technologies in the workplace is not just a futuristic concept, it’s a present reality. 

For instance, the use of AI-powered video learning platforms has led to a 50% reduction in training time and a 25% improvement in performance, as highlighted in the WEF report. 

In logistics, a sector known for its physical demands, augmentation technologies like exoskeletons have made a significant impact. The introduction of exoskeletons resulted in a 30-40% immediate improvement in posture during work execution, dramatically reducing the physical strain on employees.

Furthermore, the application of augmentation technology in quality and process assurance has achieved remarkable results. 

In specific cases, there was a reported 100% success rate in both quality and process assurance, underscoring the potential for significant improvements in production quality and reliability through these technologies.

Related: Top AI in Hiring statistics in 2024

Security and stability concerns

In the age of AI, one of the primary concerns for employees is job security. However, the augmented workforce model offers a reassuring perspective. 

Rather than replacing human jobs, AI is augmenting them, creating new opportunities and enhancing existing roles. For instance, IBM’s report indicates that while AI is expected to disrupt 85 million jobs globally between 2020 and 2025, it is also projected to create 97 million new roles. 

This shift underscores the transformative nature of AI – it’s not about job elimination but job evolution. The key is to view AI as a partner rather than a threat. 

The key is to view AI as a partner rather than a threat. 

By automating routine tasks, AI allows employees to focus on more meaningful, impactful work, thereby increasing job satisfaction and security. 

This shift necessitates a proactive approach from HR professionals and employers in reskilling and upskilling their workforce to adapt to these new roles.

Embrace a human-centric approach

For HR professionals and SMB employers, adapting to the augmented workforce model involves strategic planning and implementation. 

The first step is to embrace a human-centric approach, recognizing that the ultimate goal of technology integration is to enhance human work, not replace it. 

Implementing augmentation technology involves a phased approach: starting with the concept phase to identify technologies and assess industrial challenges, followed by the pilot phase to test the technology in practice, and finally, the scaling phase to expand its use and evaluate its broader impact.

Moreover, fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptation is essential. 

As AI evolves, so must the skills and capabilities of the workforce. Investing in training and development programs that focus on both technical and soft skills will be key to ensuring that employees are equipped to thrive in an AI-augmented environment.

Related: How is AI used in human resources? 7 ways it helps HR

AI won’t take your job

According to the World Economic Forum’s prediction, the year 2025 will witness the replacement of approximately 85 million jobs by AI. However, this technological advancement is also expected to generate around 97 million new job opportunities.

The transformative impact of AI in the workforce is echoed by industry leaders and experts.

For instance, Robin Bordoli, ex-CEO, Figure Eight, supports that “It’s not about machines replacing humans, but machines augmenting humans. Humans and machines have different relative strengths and weaknesses, and it’s about the combination of these two that will allow human intent and business processes to scale 10x, 100x, and beyond that in the coming years.”

Richard Baldwin put it right.”AI won’t take your job,” he said during a panel at the 2023 World Economic Forum’s Growth Summit. “It’s somebody using AI that will take your job.” 

These perspectives highlight a common understanding among experts: AI is a tool for enhancement, not replacement.

It’s about using technology to unlock human potential and drive forward innovation in ways previously unimaginable.

The journey towards an AI-augmented workplace is an opportunity for HR to redefine its role, focusing on strategic human capital development and fostering a culture that embraces continuous learning and adaptation. 

By doing so, we can ensure that our workforce is not just equipped to handle the challenges of today but is also prepared to thrive in the ever-evolving landscape of tomorrow.

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