Working Together: How Automation and Your Employees Can Coexist

At the end of the 20th century, we found ourselves in the middle of a global sized “tech boom.”

Not since the industrial revolution 100 years prior had such advancements impacted society and the global industrial complex quite so dramatically.

And, with this official world-wide embrace of the internet and digital technology during this time, we found ourselves at the dawn of a new era… The Digital Age.

Through the 2000’s to the present day, we have only continued to make developments in technology and automation. This is clearly seen when you compare everyday items like a desktop computer from 2000 to the one currently on your desk… Or how about comparing a website from the year 2000 to one you might visit today. In almost every case, you will see the differences immediately, with today’s option being much more advanced by comparison.

These technological advancements have been present in all aspects of our lives, from the way we communicate to the way we shop, becoming so embedded in our daily activities that we hardly notice them anymore.

But there’s more to be seen behind the scenes than is readily available to the average consumer.

… And that’s what we want to talk about today. Not just the process to get the general public the services and products they expect and depend on, but how the industrial complex has been — and is being – impacted by these developments in this new digital age.

And how loyal employees can actually coexist in an environment that looks to embrace technological advancements.

U.S. Job Growth in the 21st Century

It’s commonly believed that technological advancements in the workplace will ultimately cost some their jobs.

While this can definitely be a reality some will have to face during times of such progress, this does not always have to be the case.

This misunderstanding of the facts made us look a little deeper at the U.S. jobs market since the turn of the century, and our findings are actually pretty surprising.

When researching corresponding data regarding job and tech growth, we see that, despite the many technological advancements being made in companies across the globe, job creation has actually been on a steady incline since the beginning of the 21st century.

… But how can this be when technology is taking all our jobs away?

The truth is, with the implementation of new technology, comes new opportunities for the workers who once filled such positions. (Positions that many companies are having hard times finding workers to do anyway.)

Remember, many of the positions in question are not highly desirable for most. Though offering a paycheck to many, they do not provide the benefits one might expect out of a fulfilling career, such as a high self-worth or much in the way of growth opportunities.

It’s when looking at automation in this light that we begin to see how such advancements can actually HELP the average employee on their career path rather than hinder their growth.

Take a look at recent developments at Walmart Inc.

Walmart has recently made a significant investment in automation at several of their fulfillment centers, leaving some workers within these facilities with uncertain futures.

That being said, Walmart officials are taking steps to try to relocate any and all employees whose jobs may be at risk, including positions as control technicians, quality audit analysts and flow managers to name a few.

These new positions offer new advancement and growth opportunities for employees who might have been stuck in a dead-end position beforehand.

… But brick and mortar stores like Walmart are themselves at risk of ending up on the chopping block during this digital revolution, so let’s take a look at the world’s leading e-commerce site, Amazon.com.

 Amazon is well on its way to becoming the world’s leading retailer (though, notably, still behind Walmart for the time being.)

With the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, Amazon and other e-commerce retailers saw dramatic growth. This has many in the brick-and-mortar retail industry concerned that they too will be out of a job if these new advancements in retail continue to progress in the years ahead. But this is not necessarily the case.

When looking at the general retail sector from 2007 to 2016 (when online shopping really began to take off), we see an average retail job loss of 51,000.

However, when comparing that to the number of jobs created by the e-commerce job market in those same years – which added 355,000 jobs – we better understand that these workers are not being discarded, but, rather, exchanged, providing them potentially more rewarding positions at another location.

Many companies, in fact, are working to upskill their employees by offering them education opportunities to better prepare them for the challenges they may face at their new locations or in their new positions.

In the case of Amazon, the online retailer not only took steps to automate their fulfillment centers across the globe – which sped up product delivery and added to higher revenues – but they also were able to create hundreds of thousands of new jobs for a workforce that is drastically under employed.

Just another example of a company investing in automation while also investing in their employees.

The Wrap Up

Now, I know, it’s easy for someone to tout the benefits of tech advancements when they’re not the one in the unemployment line. Believe me, I get it. After all, as I write this very article, my boss is looking at replacing me with a blog writing robot!

Trust me, no job is 100% secure. Things happen and times change, but any good employer will understand the value of a good employee and look to reassign rather than replace.

After all, the value an employer has for their employee has a direct correlation to the value said employee has in themselves. This is just as true in retail as it is in engineering or manufacturing.

No matter the industry though, when you fear automation may be lurking in the shadows for your job, take a deep breath and remember that we do, in fact, live in a world where job security and automation assistance can coexist… And it’s a world full of possibilities.

P.S. If you’re interested in making sure you provide a work environment where your employees feel secure while taking advantage of the many benefits of automation, make sure to take a look at Manufacturing KnowHow.

Manufacturing KnowHow is an e-learning platform designed to make sure you and your employees are trained and up to date on the latest digital advancements being implemented in your facility.

… And with a workforce that is educated on your systems and speaking the same “digital language” as your programming, you can feel comfortable knowing that you’re benefiting from — and taking advantage of — the best of both worlds… The worlds of automation AND employee dedication.