Even though the way we teach has remained the same for thousands of years, it still has the potential to change. Like everything else in business, it’s vital to be on the cutting edge. Using old methods means that you end up losing out — not because you’re doing any worse, but because your competitors are doing better. With that in mind, there are few employee training trends and technological developments that all business owners should be aware of.
Should We App-roach The Future With Caution?
Apps have been around for a while, but it’s only now that their legitimacy has been so firmly etched into business that Walmart has started rolling out workplace training apps to 80,000 employees. While Walmart is predictably upbeat about its new idea, there’s reason to be somewhat sceptical of all this. After all, it was only at the beginning of this year when French workers won the Right to Disconnect from work emails and texts outside of work in a landmark case.
Having an app for workplace training on your phone is a technological achievement in some respects. It shows how far the humble app has come, but for some employees, it might feel like a step in the wrong direction. Whether or not training is forced on employees outside of work remains to be seen, and a lot will depend on pressure from Walmart and individual managers. Still, just as a Facebook app increases your temptation to constantly check for updates, an app from work will likely increase your temptation to constantly check for work updates.
The Automation Generation
In 2014, vlogger CGP Grey made a very salient argument for the idea that the vast majority of jobs could be replaced by automation. What made his argument even more persuasive is that he wasn’t referring to future technology; he was referring to technology around at the time.
Still, jump forward to 2017, and Grey’s grey future still hasn’t happened yet. So was he wrong? At this point, it’s hard to say. In his video, Grey argues that self-driving cars have the potential to replace all taxi drivers, bus drivers and coach drivers. While this is true in theory, in practice, self-driving cars are still illegal — despite Uber’s controversial decision to roll some of them out anyway.
Drones are another piece of technology which could replace a lot of jobs in theory, but still haven’t. Amazon Prime Air is a “future delivery service” (according to Amazon anyway) which will seemingly eliminate even the need for self-driving cars. No drivers and no postmen — just a drone which can guide itself towards its target. Even within Amazon’s warehouse, drones could be used to further save on labour costs. At the 2015 SEMA (Storage Equipment Manufacturers Association) Conference, someone from the technical committee floated the idea of SEMA racking inspections by drone. However, like much else drone-related, the idea hasn’t taken off just yet.
Proponents of self-driving cars and drone delivery systems would argue that it’s not a matter of “if”, but “when”. From a legal standpoint, though, it still looks like a matter of “if”. Still, even if automation never becomes a massive part of the workforce, the takeaway from Grey’s video is that future employees need to be much, much more skilled in order to outperform their robot counterparts. For that, we need a more serious and sophisticated attitude to workplace training.
The McBA With Honours
It’s easy to mock McDonald’s. To some, it’s just a big company that sells terrible food at a low price. So, when it announced that it was introducing vocational qualifications to its employees which were the equivalent of A Levels nearly 10 years ago, many didn’t take the idea seriously. Looking back, perhaps we should have. As automation looks more and more likely to enter the workforce, the approach of McDonald’s to its employee training should be commended.
Rather than replace their workforce with automation, McDonald’s is looking to better train the human workforce they have. A McQualification might not seem like the greatest of accolades, but within the company itself, it shows loyalty and willingness to do better than the automated technology which Grey tells us could replace human labour.
The future of employee training needs to be more hands-on. Walmart might not have quite got it right with the employee training app, but their willingness to embrace new technology at least shows their awareness of the future. With more and more employers taking teaching English to their employees into their own hands, the employer/employee relationship of the future begins to look more like a teacher/student relationship. Automated labour might be part of the future, but human labour is here and now — and employers look set to make the most out of it.
About the Author
Justin O’Sullivan is a small business owner. His business, Storage Equipment Experts, specialises in delivering SEMA racking inspections for warehouses across the UK.