Published October 2016
Fiscal Notes recently interviewed Jason Dorsey, an expert on the millennial and Gen Z generations who has consulted with hundreds of companies and organizations on workforce changes. We asked for his views on how technology will shape the workplaces and careers of the future.
"Software is doing a lot more than it used to, and will continue to evolve. Historically, [business] software might just do payroll and some basic analysis. Now, it’s learning to assess desired behaviors. That makes it possible for technology to suggest, for instance, when a manager needs to talk to an employee if the company wants them to stay longer. Software can predict when a new hire may start to become disenchanted, and suggest what [managers] may need to do.
Workforces are beginning to generate a lot more data. Historically, the emphasis has been on collecting data about consumers. But to date, there’s been little real data generated on how to manage and motivate a company’s employees effectively. That’s the shift we’re witnessing right now.
Over time, it’s going to be really interesting to see just how far the technology will go. How will it be used to improve hiring decisions? In driving retention and employee behavior? In talent development? We believe technology will add a lot more value to the workplace and workforce. In the past, it’s mostly been about efficiency and automation. What we haven’t seen yet is how to drive key behaviors — everything from loyalty to encouraging employees to get their friends to apply for a job. But now, technology is really starting to fill in that gap.
But we don’t believe that it replaces people. You’ll still need the managers, you still need the executives, you still need the leaders. They’ll be better informed because of technology.
Now, to project this ahead, 10, 20, 30 years, obviously technology is going to continue to advance. And it will take on more and more roles. That could be in retail or in restaurants, for example, with clerks or servers being replaced with some kind of technology. Maybe a company won’t need as many salespeople in the future, because they’ll have an automated campaign instead. So there are certainly jobs that will be replaced. Millennials and Gen Z are coming of age with this technological reality. It’s all they’ve known. So it’s not threatening to them in the way that it was and is to other generations.
Millennials will have to work longer careers than baby boomers and retire older, if at all. For the 65-year-old 30 years from now, the world of work could look dramatically different than it is for the 65-year-old today. Their jobs will be augmented by future technologies.
I think we are still in the very, very early stages. We haven’t even really entered the artificial intelligence revolution. All those things are certainly going to affect millennials, and they’re still young enough to get a lot of the benefits from it and face the challenges of it. I think that will define a lot of their career trajectory."
Jason Dorsey is co-founder of Austin’s Center for Generational Kinetics, a consultancy in generational research and solutions, especially millennials and Gen Z. FN