Working Transitions

AI and Automation

Today’s world of work is rapidly changing and organisations – no matter how big or small – are operating within a continuously changing environment. Technology and Innovation are rapidly changing the way we work and – importantly – the roles we perform.

AI and automation are disrupting every industry and it’s happening quickly…

  • Chatbots will power 85% of customer service by 2020
  • 61% of organisations say that AI is the most important aspect of their data strategy
  • By 2020, AI will eliminate 1.8 m jobs and create 2.3m.

The need for retraining staff will remain high on the agenda, as AI is integrated into more organisations. A report by IBM suggests that 120 million workers worldwide will need to be retrained due to the integration of AI in organisations, over the next three years. 

Organisations continue to shed old skills whilst facing challenges when filling vacancies requiring in-demand new or emerging skills.

What does this mean for affected employees?

For some, it may mean a more interesting and specialised role – with automation delivering many of the more ‘mundane’ day to day tasks, time will be freed up to focus on tasks that require a higher level of capability. Exciting new career paths may open up as roles and skills continue to develop to meet new demands. For other employees, however, it may mean that they are forced to reconsider a new role externally as they are placed at risk of redundancy.

What does this mean for your organisation?

If you are planning a restructure, how can you ensure that you retain talent and use the skills within your existing workforce to best effect? How can you adapt your hiring strategy to make best use of the talent pool you already have by improving internal mobility?


Whether it’s a restructure or simply raising awareness of internal vacancies more effectively, there is no doubt that transparency and continuous communication is hugely important.

In the case of restructuring, if possible, share information and details as soon as it’s viable. Nothing is more damaging in the workplace than ‘Chinese whispers’– if employees feel that decisions are being made without their involvement they will rapidly disengage, feel anxious and their first instinct may be to ‘fly the nest’.

The early stages of a restructure when the rumour mill is at its most active is often when you lose the people you most want to retain.

Line Managers hold the key

During a restructure, line managers often feel uncomfortable with the responsibility of making a redeployment decision that results in unsuccessful applicants losing their job. It’s important not to underestimate the emotional impact this can have on managers. Providing coaching support to help them deal with the impact of change as well as practical support to ensure that their interviewing skills are good enough to ensure robust and objective decision making is vital.

One of the biggest blockers to successful internal mobility can be line managers, especially when talent is in short supply. Even where there are clear benefits to the organisation there may be a reluctance to encourage internal moves. Employees may therefore find it easier to leave an organisation than to indicate to their manager that they would like to make an internal move.

Equipping managers with the skills to have effective career conversations with their teams is a worthwhile investment that can pay big dividends over the longer term. Many managers fail to see the benefits of encouraging their team members to move on within the organisation so sharing ROI data, combined with giving recognition is also important to drive the right behaviours.

Helping people to make good career decisions can be aided by providing access to an independent coach who will help them consider the options objectively, challenge assumptions and help to make a plan. Feeling that your employer values you enough to provide tailored career coaching can be a powerful motivator to stay.

Keep it positive

For many, even though the issue was initially forced upon them, the process of redeploying into a new role or considering a change in direction can be a really positive experience. If your organisation has been through a similar process before, success stories from previous redeployees who are now successfully settled in an alternative role can be reassuring and inspiring. Think about incorporating these into your communication strategy.

Enabling employees to identify and explore their transferable skills – either through coaching, workshops or online tools – can be empowering and equip individuals for success in an alternative role within the organisation. Make sure too that hiring managers truly understand the value of transferability and how to properly assess skills at interview.

Introduce supporting measures early

A supportive and proactive approach to redeployment is key to ensuring that the people you want to keep see an internal move as a viable option. Ensure affected employees are made aware of the available support as early as possible and allow them time to understand, digest and make full use of the package on offer.

Ensure that the support available is tailored to the workforce and offers support that will benefit all affected employees. Group workshops, seminars, individual sessions, telephone coaching, online tools – there’s lots available – whatever you decide to offer make sure it’s properly targeted to your workforce.

It’s also worth reviewing the process for internal applications – ensure this is as simple, clear and streamlined as possible and that every available job vacancy is properly communicated.

Embed the behaviours

Don’t just think about redeployment and skills development when you’re going through a period of change. Encourage a strong culture of internal mobility where employees are actively encouraged to move between departments and experience different areas of the organisation.

Encourage work shadowing and strong inter-departmental communication as the ‘norm’. Recognise those managers who actively share the talent within their teams. Not only will all employees have a far better understanding of internal opportunities within other departments but the whole organisation will benefit significantly

Get in touch to understand how Working Transitions can support your organisation to thrive through the challenges and opportunities of change


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Working Transitions
09 December 2019
Supporting effective and successful organisational change


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