Tech vs People: Which do you value most?

It’s a new year and a new decade, but some things never change.

Things like the fear that “the robots will rise” and unemploy us all.

In fact, in November 2019 (just in time to cheer us up for Christmas) the Institute for the Future of Work published a discussion paper about it entitled Automation, Politics and the Future of Work.

The paper found that ‘approximately ¾ of people believe that workers face more uncertainty and anxiety about their job than they did a generation ago’ and even highlighted a new group called the ‘invisible outsiders’ who are governed by a heightened sense of insecurity associated with automation.

The Office for National Statistics’1 chatbot also has some interesting views about automation, predicting that:

  • Waiters and waitresses are in the high risk of automation category (73% risk)
  • Bar staff are in the high risk of automation category (71% risk)
  • Hotel receptionists are in the medium risk of automation category (62% risk)

However, the chatbot points out; “Automation itself doesn’t mean jobs will necessarily be lost. It could mean the jobs change as a result or that new roles emerge because of automation. It doesn’t mean the robots are taking over!”

That’s an important point to remember, because automation doesn’t always have to be negative where jobs are concerned. Handled the right way, automation could make your and your team members’ lives a lot easier.

Here’s an example.

According to an article in The Caterer2, new research has shown that forecasting demand and building accurate schedules are two of the biggest challenges faced by hospitality operators, second only to unplanned absences. Yet, even though automation exists to make forecasting and rostering easier, most hospitality businesses are still relying on manual and paper-based systems to get those tasks done.

With 40% of the research’s respondents saying they are routinely understaffed, 25% saying they often have more staff working than they need, and 38% of staff never swapping shifts to help with issues like unplanned absences, it’s getting harder for managers to make effective staffing decisions. Automation goes a long way towards solving that problem, but it doesn’t matter how slick and efficient the technology gets, it still requires the input and assistance of your team members.

The Caterer conducted the research in conjunction with workforce management software company Kronos. Kronos’ customer insights manager Neil Pickering says that it’s essential to empower your employees and listen to what they have to say; “If [hospitality employers] can gather information from employees – where they prefer working, who they prefer working with, which hours they’re unwilling to work – and build it into the automated processes to take that into consideration, then employees are happier, customers are happier, and the business is happier because they’re able to control costs and drive greater performance and productivity.”

Here are a couple of questions we’d like you to consider:

1: How does your hospitality business use its technology? Are you using it in a way that enhances productivity by supporting the needs and wellbeing of your team members?

2: Are you doing everything you can to keep your team members happy and motivated? Do you listen to their concerns, offer them progression, show them the kind of trust and respect that makes you an employer they want to work for? Do your employees feel valued and empowered?

No matter what the future brings, nothing will ever be more vital to the success of your business than the quality, loyalty and wellbeing of your staff.

Kronos/The Caterer’s research raised one other point that’s worth remembering. When they asked respondents, ‘Which of the following people-related issues have the greatest effect on your ability to meet your goals/objectives?’, the top three replies were ‘Finding suitably skilled workers’ (66%), ‘Staff recruitment’(48%), and ‘Retaining staff/employee turnover’ (42%).

At Prime Agency Recruitment, we have the knowledge and expertise to solve all those pain points. Thanks to our extensive database of high-quality candidates, we’ve also got the technology. But we always put people first.

We’re looking forward to 2020 and putting you and your business first too.

So, whenever you need to find top quality candidates for your workforce or if you ever want advice about recruiting and retaining the perfect new team members, just give our friendly advisors a call on 020 7580 4398 or email info@primerec.co.uk.

Happy New Year, everybody.

1https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/articles/whichoccupationsareathighestriskofbeingautomated/2019-03-25

2https://www.thecaterer.com/business/automatic-for-the-people