Generally speaking, businesses have a tendency to overestimate the impact and amount of change in the short term and underestimate it in the long term, said Rob Davidson, Director of Growth and Founder of the HR service providers, Davidson.
“I think most people haven’t taken the time to really stop and get their heads around the amount of change that’s likely going to happen,” Davidson told L&D Professional.
Indeed, a recent report by the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) has predicted that up to 40% of jobs have a moderate to high likelihood of disappearing in the next 10 to 15 years as a result of technological advancement.
“One of the other problems with change and digital disruption is it’s generally very slow and incremental at first and you typically don’t get a massive impact for a number of years,” he said.
“What you will typically see are little bits of your industry starting to be nibbled away by disruptive technology but not to any terminal point, and it’s easy to ignore these small incremental changes.”
There are a whole lot of reasons behind that, not the least of which is that our brains developed from the African Savanna that has generally served us really well, he said.
“But nothing in the history of the evolution of the human brain has equipped us to cope with exponential change and that’s part of the reason why our brains are not equipped to cope,” Davidson added.
Davidson added that even when business leaders read about this stuff it’s pretty easy to dismiss it. This is because humans are programmed to move away from pain and to move towards pleasure and relief.
“When I say something to you about the future of work which creates anxiety, that actually registers in your ancestral brain as a threat,” he said.
“You remember threats from the days on the African Savannah which was the stuff that used to eat you for lunch. So you automatically run away from that threat because our ancestral brain is programmed to keep us safe from perceived threats.
“So it’s actually very counterintuitive for people to stop and embrace these really uncomfortable feelings and say to ourselves: ‘This is making me anxious’. And in the presence of this uncomfortable feeling how can we think of a strategy to move forward personally and to move forward as a business.
In fact, you have got to actually lean into the discomfort which is a very unnatural thing for humans to do, said Davidson.
“So if all these jobs start to go then who starts to retrain these workers?” he added.
“That’s where L&D I think becomes the lifeblood of an organisation. But not the traditional L&D, because if what we offer as a service is average then it can probably be replaced by an algorithm or be offshored.”
As jobs increasingly disappear in the coming years, L&D is likely to become the “lifeblood” of organisations, according to one HR expert.