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The Impact of Today’s Technology on Tomorrow’s Work

Posted By Dr. Tyler Amell , Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Updated: Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Robot and and human hand reaching out to touch fingertips.In their prescient book, The Race Against the Machine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee put forward the argument that “many present-day organizations, institutions, policies and mindsets are not keeping up” with the pace of technological change. With the ever-increasing application of automation, machine learning, robots, cobots and artificial intelligence, that ominous conclusion is already making itself felt in the employment space.

Until recently, minimum, low or living wage workers were considered to be one of the most impacted groups by the effect of robotics and technology, but new research places more educated and higher wage workers directly in the path of influence by Artificial Intelligence. Though still difficult to predict, a recent study by the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings warns “AI’s distinctive capacities suggest that higher-wage occupations will be some of the most exposed.”

In the broad midsection of employment, between low and high wage earners, computerization has and will continue to replace traditional “white collar” and “blue-collar” workers performing clerical or repetitive tasks. As a result, all employment groups are at risk, and when the evolution is complete and when employment is dominated by low wage and very high wage earners, this will lead to greater polarization of the labor market which will only add to the current societal issue of income inequality.

These dramatic changes across the board in our work environment have, and will result in very broad social change, presenting significant organizational and Human Resources (HR) challenges.

Machines on a worker-less factory floor.Read any recent commentary on mobilizing our human capital to meet the needs of work in the future, and you will hear two recurrent themes: investment in education, and on-the-job skills training. But for various reasons, there are disturbing trends.

For example, from 1915 to 2005, time spent in school increased by an astounding six years, accounting for a 14 percent increase in worker productivity, directly affecting economic growth. But since 1988, many advanced economies have seen educational attainment level off, and in some cases fall.

The economic risk to those countries with advanced economies is evident when you consider that students completing higher levels of education are also those most likely to possess more “abstract” or human-only skills such as problem-solving, intuition, persuasion and creativity. Even with the looming impact of artificial intelligence, some of these high-value skills are unlikely to be displaced by automation in the immediate future, which is promising for the current mindset toward higher education.

With all of this in mind, how can today’s employers help develop tomorrow’s employees to meet the impact of technology on the future of work?

One-third of workers today are anxious about their future, and much of that concern can be attributed to technology and automation. While not surprising, it’s a very problematic statistic as that anxiety crushes self-confidence and inhibits a worker’s willingness, and ability, to adapt.

As more work moves online, self-employment and short-term contracts will become even more prevalent, resulting in less job security, more financial instability, and even greater stress. An out of office workplace, and the lack of a social environment means less job control and participation in decision-making. The inevitable anxiety is often cause for a number of physical and psychological health issues.

On the more positive side, research reports that 74 per cent of workers are prepared to learn new skills or completely retrain in order to remain employable in the future. But what those skills represent, and where training is made available, is one of today’s largest organizational challenges. The following should be considered when considering the future of work at your organization:

  • Start a meaningful dialogue on the future of work with your employees, your organization, and your community. If you have a healthy Corporate Social Responsibility program today, make more of it tomorrow. And keep in mind that you have internal as well as external audiences for these initiatives. Be as inclusive as your situation allows. Longer-term planning for five, 10, 15, and even 20 years out pays dividends and moves us away from our ‘next quarter’ mindset.
  • Help current employees assess their strengths and how they can adapt them to a more automated world. The mantra for employers should be “Protect people, not jobs.”
  • The coming workforce won’t be all STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and application programmers. How your organization values and helps to develop human skills like collaboration, adaptability, and conceptual thinking will be increasingly important.
  • Through on-the-job training, increase and broaden the development of critical technical skills specific to your organization. Do it today. The pace of change is accelerating.
  • Establish high-performance work practices such as problem-solving teams, job rotation, and information sharing that will enable workers to enhance the benefits of advanced technologies.

Factory showing equipment but almost no humans.Tomorrow’s Workforce

Artificial Intelligence will influence the nature of work in profound ways. But the effect that it has on a human scale is already becoming obvious. On the positive side, people will be less likely to work in traditionally hazardous environments thanks to robotics and automation, leading to a decreased risk of injury or illness from work-related events. But the incoming younger generations may work longer, resulting in an aging workforce that may have higher levels of chronic diseases. More people will be working remotely in part-time, contract, or freelance positions, outside the traditional employee/employer relationship. This may increase loneliness, anxiety, and stress due to precarious employment. The cost of health care is just one of the issues that will shape the evolution of tomorrow’s workforce.

Stages of Automation

A recent study on the future of work by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) defines the stages of automation as:

  • Assisted Intelligence for example, today’s GPS and monitoring systems in our cars;
  • Augmented intelligence is the emerging technology that enables car-and ride-sharing services; and,
  • Autonomous Intelligence like the rapidly approaching future of self-driving cars.

Technology and the ever-increasing amount of data it depends on will shape the future, but how much will humans affect that landscape?

The PwC study gives us four scenarios, each reflecting how society may temper, or accentuate the rise of technology:

  1. In the first scenario, The Red World, technology and its most innovative specialists will define the economy. Specific, relevant skills and experience will result in the largest rewards, with those workers frequently moving from one contract opportunity to another. Innovation is key, and corporate size is out-flanked by small, more nimble, and agile, entrepreneurial companies. “Full-time” workers comprise less than 10 per cent of the workforce.
  2. In the second scenario, The Blue World, global corporations run the show. A core group of exceptional talent enjoy exceptional rewards but rely on the expertise and skills of freelance or contract “as needed” workers. Being a full-time corporate employee brings with it excellent compensation and benefits, and relentless pressure to perform. Augmented technology, medication, and implants help corporate employees push past the limits of human performance. Those employees are expected to develop and hone their skillset continually. The disparity in wealth distribution widens the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
  3. The third scenario, the aptly named The Green World, sees the importance of a strong corporate social conscience rise in importance as a result of public opinion. Extensive use of automation and technology helps organizations meet these goals but come at a cost to jobs. A green agenda, the result of increasingly scarce natural resources, and demanding international regulations recognize that business has an impact that goes well beyond financial considerations.
  4. The fourth scenario, The Yellow World, is the result of workers and companies reacting to public policy that seeks “fairness” in the distribution of wealth and resources. Workers feel the strongest loyalty to people in their skill set, not their employer. Worker associations, like “Guilds” from the Middle Ages, re-emerge, providing protection, benefits, and training for many types of workers. Technology and automation must temper their impact as workers push back against policies that favor others.

Workers that demonstrate leadership, empathy, and creativity will be rewarded and attracted to organizations that display these same traits. And the most successful organizations in any of the four worlds will be those that make foundational health and wellbeing programs a core offering, inspiring discretionary effort from their employees or contractors and as a result, achieving the highest level of productivity.

Individual wellbeing platforms on employee portals facilitate physical and psychological health support. In the future, these personalized, data-rich platforms will expand into other significant stress-related areas, such as financial health and interpersonal relationship health.

Constantly expanding technology, and immensely powerful social trends will shape the future of work, but which direction it takes is almost impossible to predict. Companies and individual workers should prepare for a number of outcomes. But one is very predictable: organizations that fail to adapt to these new realities will not be able to compete successfully, leaving their people frustrated, and alienated.


Dr. Tyler AmellDr. Tyler Amell is an internationally recognized thought leader on the topic of workplace health and productivity, as well as a frequent speaker and writer. He is a trusted advisor on strategic and integrated workplace health and is the Chief Relationship Officer at CoreHealth Technologies, a corporate wellness technology company that powers well-being programs for global providers. He is on faculty at Pacific Coast University for Workplace Health Sciences and is on the Executive Board at the Work Wellness and Disability Prevention Institute and as well as the National Wellness Institute. In the past, he has served on the executive board of the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI), and the Canadian Association for Research on Work and Health (CARWH). He has held senior executive positions in a variety of sectors including human resources technology, consulting and healthcare.

Tags:  occupatioal wellness  workplace wellness  Worksite wellness 

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How Technology is Expanding the Wellness Industry

Posted By Romuald Antoine Jr., CPT, CHC, Friday, October 11, 2019

Couple using fitness apps on their phone while in the gymTechnology continues to change the way work is done and is reshaping the landscape of the wellness industry. As employers increasingly rely on technology better manage employees, engage them in wellness, and improve morale, they are looking for digital health solutions.

One of the key findings in the 2019 Workplace Wellness Trends Report by Shortlister of findings from 10 out of 12 largest employee benefits consultants in the US is that 66% of mid to large size employers are implementing or seeking for a wellness platform or mobile app to engage their employees.

With technology, the possibilities are endless because there are so many segments of wellness that a company can cover. For example, some companies only offer digital biometric solutions, while some offer apps to help employees with depression. Then there are some that are more comprehensive and offer modules covering each dimension of wellness.

Here are 3 ways wellness platforms are changing the industry for the better.

  1. Conduct Health Assessments & Biometric Screenings
    A health assessment is a great way to get a baseline of a population's lifestyle and health risks. When that data is then combined with biometric screening data it can allow a user be educated on their results, get a personalized action plan, or even schedule a visit with a health provider, all within minutes.
  2. Educate and Raise Awareness
    There are so many ways to educate employees about wellbeing, including the use of flyers and newsletters or hosting a lunch-n-learn. New wellness platforms now have customized content readily available through video, live-chats with experts, blog posts, and podcasts. These help employees understand the importance of behavior change and absorb the material in a fun way.
  3. Tracking Wellness Activities and Program Participation
    This is the fun part! With the use of wearable devices such as a Fitbit, Garmin or even a smartphone, employees can now track their health. Some devices track sleep, steps, and even offer guided meditations. This allows a user to not only continuously track their activity, but also set personal goals, earn rewards, and even have some friendly competition within the office. On the other side, this is another tool that HR can use to see if a program is being used, or if users are engaging with the content and if it's beneficial to the company.

Is this only relevant to HR Staff?

Woman on video chat with her wellness coachWhile all this information may sound impressive to an employer, how can this help an emerging wellness professional?

About six years ago, once you entered the wellness space, you most likely were going to work for a company that only offered health coaching, consulting, or corporate workshops. Now with technology, people with a wide range of experience and backgrounds can be a part of the wellness industry in a new way. For example, if you're a software engineer you might join a team that has a digital solution to help reduce chronic disease; if you're a health coach some companies now offer virtual coaching that can be done remotely; if you're a graphic designer you can create the content that is used in the portals of wellness programs. Even if you're still interested in interacting directly with employees, offering workshops, or creating content, there's still a need within digital health companies.

All in all, the addition of these solutions enables more professionals to find their space in the wellness industry. The power of technology can give employees fun wellness programs at work, and provide tools to scale wellness offerings, research, and knowledge to thousands. Looking ahead for 2020 and beyond, there will be even more ways to combine tech savviness with old-fashioned human interaction to move the wellness industry in the right direction and improve the employee experience.


Romuald Antoine Jr., CPT, CHCRomuald Antoine Jr., CPT, CHC is a millennial engagement expert and author of the Ultimate Guide to Engaging Millennials, is the founder and CEO of One Stop Wellness, a workplace wellness company that helps organizations empower their employees to improve their lifestyle.

Tags:  biometric screening  health assessment  technology  wellness programs  workplace wellness 

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Who to Watch in Workplace Wellness in Ireland in 2019

Posted By Brian Crooke, Friday, March 8, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Brian Crooke - Workplace Wellness Ireland


There’s been some really positive progress in the health promotion landscape in Irish workplaces in recent years. Companies are slowly beginning to move away from box ticking wellness initiatives and two healthy workplace accreditations have been launched (with a third on the way) that promote a longer-term approach to workplace health promotion. There’s still a considerable way to go if we want to catch up with our international counterparts, particularly in the US, but there’s no doubt we are on the right path. 

I see 2019 as an important year for health promotion in Irish workplaces. I’d love to see Ireland lead the way and develop a world class ecosystem for workplace health promotion and I don’t see why we can’t. I’m doing my bit with the Workplace Wellness Ireland community which is going from strength to strength with a very exciting schedule of events planned this year.

I can’t do it on my own though! I’ve put together a list of individuals that I’ve been fortunate enough to meet through the course of my work that I believe will have a significant role to play in shaping the future of workplace wellness in Ireland over the coming years. I’ve also managed to gather some of their thoughts and expectations on what we can expect to see in the industry in 2019.

Let me know your thoughts on the list and your own predictions for the year ahead in the comment section below.


 

Dr. Sarah-Jane Cullinane
Assistant Professor in Trinity Business School and Director of 'The Place to Be'

mindfulnessSarah-Jane works in the Trinity Business School and has 10 years’ experience in teaching and researching the areas of HR, Organisational Behaviour, and Well-being at Work. She has a PhD in Organisational Behaviour focusing on well-being and job design, and a diploma in teaching Mindfulness-Based Interventions. In bringing her passions together, she established her own business, The Place to Be, in 2018 to complement her academic work by helping organisations build a culture which fosters and promotes well-being. 

Sarah-Jane believes that “leaders drive well-being in the organisation and act as role models for healthy behaviour, which is why most of my current work involves developing and researching mindfulness-based leadership development programmes which give leaders the opportunity to build resilience by developing self-insight and strategies for self-care. In 2019 I look forward to further embedding well-being in the undergraduate and postgraduate business studies curricula in Trinity and in leadership development programmes in organisations as I strongly believe that well-being is about establishing new habits and behaviours which require regular practice and supportive networks.”


 

Caroline McGuigan
CEO and founder of Suicide or Survive

Caroline is a psychotherapist, mental health advocate, group facilitator, activist and founder of the charity Suicide or Survive. SOS works with individuals and businesses to educate, inform and inspire people to cultivate good mental health and reduce stigma. Caroline’s vision is to approach mental health differently, a vision that puts the power and responsibility back in the hands of the individual.

I was fortunate enough to meet and see Caroline speak on a number of occasions in 2018 (she was also a guest speaker at the inaugural Workplace Wellness Ireland meet up). I am always left feeling inspired and motivated having heard Caroline’s passion and commitment to promoting the importance of supporting mental health in the workplace.

“The team in SOS are really excited going into 2019 having delivered workplace programmes to thousands of people in organisations throughout the country. We believe that people with passion can change the world for the better. Our intention is to be part of a country of life-long learning, curiosity searching and not certainty, a more compassionate country and a society where we lift each other up.” 


 

Enda Campbell
Workplace Health Promotion Office at the Irish Heart Foundation

Irish Heart FoundationEnda co-ordinates the workplace health promotion programmes at the Irish Heart Foundation. His qualifications include a BSc in Sport and Exercise Science from the University of Limerick and an MA in health promotion from NUI Galway. 

Enda sees a move towards more evidence-based interventions and initiatives this year. “There has been fantastic growth and increased awareness of the value of workplace wellness initiatives but as the case has been in the USA in recent years, I would predict that there will be a move towards reducing risk factors of ill-health, rather than some interventions that have low engagement and impact. We will get better at recognising impactful interventions and begin to measure the impact of what we do.“


 

Fania Stoney
Healthy Place to Work

Fania is an executive with the recently launched Healthy Place to Work, brought to us by the people behind Great Place to Work. Fania works closely with organisations to guide them through the Healthy Place process and helps them understand their current investment, so they can move away from a tick-box style offering (woohoo!) towards implementing a wide-ranging and evidence-based health strategy. I’ve seen Fania present at a number of events and she always brings great energy and insight on how to create meaningful work, craft a resilient workforce and energise employees. 

For 2019 Fania expects that “with the labour market hitting saturation point, the health and wellbeing offering that organisations have will differentiate their employer brand, both in terms of talent retention and attraction. Understanding that offering, its relative strengths, opportunity areas and embedding a health strategy will be what sets organisations apart in the coming year.”


 

Stephen Costello
CEO of Spectrum Wellness

Stephen began working with the Spectrum group as a marketing executive and quickly secured promotions through to Commercial Director before becoming Managing Director of Spectrum Wellness by the age of 27. The company has grown at a phenomenal rate, including the announcement of 100 new positions last July which is great news for the workplace wellness industry in Ireland.

Stephen is currently leading the Spectrum Wellness team on a new project that he claims will revolutionise workplace wellbeing in the UK and Ireland, making it easier for human resource employees to champion health and wellness at work. 

“2019 is not just going to be an exciting year for the company, but for workplace wellbeing in general. As a $43bn industry worldwide, there are many opportunities for innovation in workplace wellness, especially in the digital realm. A combination of digital and in-person, genuinely expert-led wellbeing experiences for employees in the future will make health and wellness more accessible and engaging than ever before for companies of all sizes. This will help to make workplace wellbeing much more common place.” 


 

Donal Scanlon
Mental Health First Aid Ireland Manager

Mental Health First AidDonal has been working and studying as a professional in the area of mental health and well-being for nearly 20 years. He’s an occasional contributor to digital, television and print media, often speaking publicly on mental health in Ireland at conferences, schools, colleges and the corporate world and has guest lectured at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and University College Dublin. Most recently he was a guest speaker at the Oireachtas Forum on Mental Health hosted by the Ceann Comhairle. As the manager of Mental Health First Aid Ireland, Donal oversees the rollout and delivery of MHFA training in Ireland.

“My overwhelming feeling for 2019 is ‘hope’, I’m truly excited to build on the work done so far; and harness the energy and appetite for workplace focused wellness heading into 2019 and to partner with organisations to drive real change by creating supportive, healthier and engaging workplaces that in turn can bring improved productivity and contentment to employees”


 

Sohini De
Founder & CEO of Wind of Change Total Wellbeing Solutions Ltd

Sohini worked in the corporate world as an equity investor for many years and is also a practicing nutritional therapist and health coach. Wind of Change services businesses, schools and charities in India and Ireland and was founded on Sohini’s ‘farm to fork’ insights of the food and agriculture sector plus several years of study and market research into what helps employees and companies so that individuals reach their best physical and mental potential while corporates can save resources and be more productive.

“In terms of our expectations for workplace wellness in Ireland in 2019, we would share some of our key takeaways from our Irish and international market research. We expect to see a more data driven approach by corporates for targeted programme delivery and drive towards continuous improvement rather than one off programmes. This will not only ensure higher employee engagement but also improve transparency and clarity for all stakeholders.”


 

Jim Kirwan
Author, speaker, consultant and Director Forever Young Club

Jim is a best-selling author, speaker and wellbeing coach and consultant. After 25 years in HR roles in financial services, he moved to America in 2003 and became a spokesperson on the importance of physical activity and employee wellbeing. He returned to Dublin in 2017 and he has hosted and chaired a number of wellbeing conferences. He was the very first speaker at the inaugural Workplace Wellness Ireland meet up in 2018.

Jim recently joined forces with Pat Falvey, the adventurer and explorer and they will shortly launch the Forever Young Club, an over 50 community which is designed to help members develop an active, healthy, sustainable lifestyle. 

Jim says that “all managers and HR executives create the environment for employee wellbeing to thrive. This message is increasingly getting through here in Ireland, so 2019 promises to be the year where managers really walk the wellbeing talk and take a longer term, strategic perspective.”


 

Mark O Reilly
CEO FitVision Training Ltd and FitVision Technology Ltd

Mark is one of Ireland’s most sought after health and wellbeing coaches and speakers. He’s a qualified executive coach, personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach and physical therapist. He comes from a health and fitness background himself having played soccer at a professional level (he’s a fellow Bohs man!) and qualifying for the world championships in the Ironman triathlon.

FitVision provides wellness programmes tailored for unique corporate environments, cultures and goals and recently developed a purpose built app that allows Mark and his team to create an experience for the individual employee, who can set specific targets to improve mental and physical wellbeing and feel supported on that journey. 

“I feel in 2019 this technology will be the key thing for FitVision that allows us to continue to scale the business and offer quality service to each company we have the opportunity to work with.”


 

David Casey
Wellness and Health Promotion Manager at DeCare Dental

A culture of wellbeing fosters the needs of one another.David has almost ten years clinical experience in healthcare having worked for the last six years designing and implementing wellness and education programmes for over 500 organisations across Ireland and the UK. He is currently completing his Masters in Health Promotion with specialist interest in mental health and workplace health promotion at the school of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science at NUI Galway. 

For 2019, David says “Talent is everything and embedding a top down culture of wellbeing into an organisation can enhance its capabilities in recruiting and retaining the best talent. Making wellbeing an important part of your company’s working environment can make employees feel valued and satisfied. These are the individuals who make the best addition to any team. They play an instrumental role in keeping the workplace culture alive and thriving through regular interactions with co-workers and management.”


 

Richard Murphy
CEO and founder of Zevo Health

Richard founded Zevo with the purpose of getting employees from A to B in their overall wellbeing. He recognised that employee needs differ and no two people are the same, therefore Zevo customise each company’s wellness programme to fit their needs. The aim is to improve the bottom line for businesses but most importantly to support employees in improving their overall health and wellbeing within the company.

Richard’s expectation for 2019 is that mental health and diversity training in the workplace will be a major factor in company wellness programmes. For 2019, Richard and the Zevo team plan to continue helping companies in having a healthy and happy workforce. 


Brian CrookeBrian Crooke is a wellness consultant, speaker and trainer specialising in the auditing, development and delivery of workplace wellness programmes (such as Corporation Transformation) for Irish companies through his Office Worker Health business. He is also the founder of the Workplace Wellness Ireland community. In his spare time he is bringing free resistance training to every county and community in Ireland through his parkHIIT project.


Tags:  Brian Crooke  international wellness  ireland  thriving  workplace wellness 

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