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Three Ways Tech Will Drive Workplace Changes in 2019

In many ways, the workplace has always been a kind of an agenda barometer. The way things are in a professional setting doesn’t exactly mirror the real world, but it certainly paints an apt picture about where people’s heads are at. All this is to say that when a paradigm shifts inside the workplace, one can rest assured that it’s probably shifting everywhere else too. Even though 2018 is in the rearview, it was a year of big changes to the actual way people work. Here are three ways tech will drive workplace changes in 2019.

Knowledge Work Automation

Knowledge Work Automation is defined as: “the use of computers to perform tasks that rely on complex analyses, subtle judgments, and creative problem solving.” Basically, everything we’ve been made to think that machines don’t do very well. But that’s changing, and rapidly. HR professionals can now use AI to sift through millions of applications and cover letters. Food retailers can use AI, and not humans, to make complex, yet very precise orders from anywhere at the drop of a hat. Now, these new technologies haven’t accounted for systemic bias’, and a myriad of other practical concerns, but there is no walking them back now.

Chirag Bhayani

Chirag Bhayani-Flickr

Interestingly, given the current state of technology, McKinsey reports that less than five percent of the jobs on the planet could be fully automated. Yet, somehow, more than 65 percent of Americans believe that in 50 years robots and computers will do a lion’s share of the work that humans do today. Hilariously, 80 percent of Americans also think that their job and profession will go unchanged in the next 50 years. This illustrates not only a lack of imagination, but the continued elevation of the idea that most work is quintessentially human. We live in an era where humanity is finding new ways to automate a whole lot more than an assembly line.  It’s likely that 2019 will see more than low skill and menial workers being phased out by AI.

The Continued Collapse of Physical Retail Locations

Retail used to be, and in many ways still is, the holy grail of easy entry ‘learn on the job’ work. But, in 2019, it’s hard to say how long it’s going to remain a viable option for the everyday worker.  The change seems strange on the surface too. The US economy is on the up and up, and unemployment is at an all time low, so why have Payless and Toys ‘R’ Us filed for bankruptcy? Why did Sears close 63 stores and 150 of their other locations (namely KMart’s) last year?

Stock Catalog- Flickr

Stock Catalog- Flickr

The answer is simple enough. Unlike vetting potential job candidates for a headhunting firm, it is really easy to teach a computer how to ring people out at the grocery store. The result is that more humans are being phased out of retail work by AI. Consider the fact that 64 percent of American households have an Amazon Prime account. An even greater share of Americans (79 percent) now claim to shop online. Hell, Amazon even owns Whole Foods, and that means more groceries delivered by drones and bought online. To make up for this, a lot of supermarkets and other large scale retailers, are pushing for more online shopping (Walmart needed a new website why?) incentives and electing to spend less on in store employees.

The Customer Isn’t Always Right Anymore

For a long time, in the spirit of making money — the main thing that businesses do — it was believed that accommodating the customer at all costs was always the best move. The only problem with that mentality is that events, social issues, and the sentiments that propel them forward, are way too visible in 2019. Thusly, companies like Reddit, Twitter, and Facebook that got their start as digital-free-for-alls are now coming to grips with the need to ‘correct’ or ‘check’ the behavior of their own customers. These new rules for consumer conduct are effectively one of the only barriers between people online and unfettered hate speech and misinformation.



Facebook is one of the most popular companies in the world, and their effort to look at their customers and effectively say “We’d rather you not shop here” is huge. It’s that kind of effort that inspires other companies to accept the simple fact that some censorship in this case, doesn’t mean profit purgatory. There is just asa  much money in standing up against certain types of bad behavior as there is in creating a space where it’s totally unregulated.

Article by Raz Robinson, journalist and freelance writer, based in New York City and Philadelphia. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, email at razrobinson9(at)gmail(dot)com, or follow him on Twitter @razrobinson.

Posted in Career and Industry Awareness, Employment Trends, Life at Work, Millennials at Work, Tech Applications for Professional Success (TAPS), What Employers Want | Tagged | Comments Off on Three Ways Tech Will Drive Workplace Changes in 2019

Millennials at Work: Four Workplace Paradigm Shifts For 2019

Almost two decades after the year 2000, there are still no shortage of complaints being made about millennials. But the fact remains clear— those whiny-screen-addled-gluten-free-sheeple have shaken the workplace to its core. In 2018 it felt like a near forgone conclusion that America’s largest generational workforce would continue to defy more than a few conventions that up until this point, have remained near and dear to the American job machine. Here are four workplace paradigm shifts championed by millennials in 2018 that are sure to continue on in 2019.

The #MeToo Movement



Americans have taken issue with the sexual misconduct of their elected officials before. Donald Trump’s infamous “grab em’ by the pxxxx” remarks, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, all the way back to Anita Hill’s testimony at Clarence Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Still, the debate surrounding the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, despite allegations that he had brutally assaulted Christine Blasey Ford as a young man, shone a light on the issue unlike any in the past. Sadly, the number of workplace assault complaints are still stifled by a very reasonable fear of retaliation.  That said, an official EEOC report found that the number of workplace sexual harassment complaints has increased; citing a younger workforce as the primary driver.  

The Gig Economy

Okay, so chances are, your last Uber driver wasn’t exactly a spring chicken. Regardless, that pre-vetted emergency sitter you hired for $20 an hour — they could very well be finishing their senior year of college. That totally insured dog walker who’s making sure that your furry bundle of joy doesn’t ruin the carpet while you’re at work? Yeah, the one being paid $8.40 an hour, them. They’re likely splitting that meager sum with some poorly managed dog walking app, run by some chump in a corner office across the world. Yeah, millennials will take less money to do what they love, but that comes at a cost. That means more of them rely on the gig economy to make ends meet.



The problem with easy access to drivers, baby sitters, dog walkers, etc is that for it to cost the consumer and the company less, the actual worker usually ends up doing it for less as well. That seems a lot worse when you consider the fact that clients who hire from the gig economy pool aren’t usually living paycheck to pay check, but the young people they employ are.

Continued Reorienting of The Corporate Culture

While the corporate sector is typically first in line to utilize radical new cost cutting measures, it often lags behind when it comes to accommodating radical social change. But, as millennials enter the workforce in droves, a lot of new issues are finally getting the shine they deserve in that space. We still live in an era where dread locs or anything more adventurous than the MLK bald fade might still get you laughed (or at least uncomfortably ignored) right out of a corporate board room. Despite this, more millennials become their own bosses and hire from talent pools that are habitually looked over by the corporate world.



CEO’s are having to come to grips with the reality that finding the right talent might require a serious reassessment of who gets a seat at the table, or rather, who doesn’t and why. But this slow change doesn’t hinge solely on an aesthetic shift. The gender wage gap for example, within the millennial workforce, is much smaller. Not to mention that more millennial dads are taking advantage of things like paternal leave and working from home. This has forced a lot of companies from Netflix to Etsy into a position where they offer real leave benefits to fathers rather than assume that they don’t need time with their new child.

The New, “Is this because I’m…?”

In a manner that was both surprising and yet eerily predictable, people were decidedly split when news dropped that Colin Kaepernick was being endorsed by Nike. The NFL had certainly done poorly by a man who was simply kneeling to acknowledge the humanity of his own people, or put another way, 70 percent of NFL players. Kap deserved a come up. But on the other hand, who is Nike, the reformed sweatshop overlord, to talk about all this social justice? As proud as people were that Kap’s cause was getting million dollar support, there were those who saw it as a betrayal of a less tangible ethic that would sooner fall on its sword than side with the likes of Nike. In the workplace, a new generation of millennials will have to continue asking themselves the hard questions about their place in a new and profitable social landscape.



One doesn’t have to be a master of observation to realize that there are more people walking around as proud and aware members of marginalized communities today than there were just a decade ago. While that means more businesses catering to marginalized communities (a net good), that’s not all that comes with it. Naturally, large companies will do what they have to in order to capitalize on the current zeitgeist: identity. That is to say, that millennials and every one who comes after them will find there to be a very fine line between adding to a company’s culture, and becoming their diversity statistic.

Article by Raz Robinson, journalist and freelance writer, based in New York City and Philadelphia. You can connect with him on LinkedIn, email at razrobinson9(at)gmail(dot)com, or follow him on Twitter @razrobinson.

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College Hiring is up for 2018

Every 2016 graduatesyear the National Association of Colleges and Employers (naceweb.org) surveys companies to find out about their plans to hire new college graduates. The Job Outlook for 2018 for grads shows that college hiring is up 4 percent.

Although lower than the last several years, 4 percent still shows a positive outlook and a robust job market.

Some additional data from other surveys that college students and grads might want to know:

23.6 days is the average time from interview to offer (2017 Recruiting Benchmarks Survey Report)

$18.06 is the average hourly wage for an intern (2017 Guide to Compensation for Interns & Co-ops

51.3% is the average conversion rate from intern to full-time hire (2017 Internship & Co-op Report)

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Artificial Intelligence in Hiring; AI is all over your Job Search

AI in hiringIf you are graduating soon, you should know that recruiters are increasingly using Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the hiring process.  That voice on the other end of the phone could be a real person or a real computer like a Chatbot or an Avatar of some kind. You probably won’t know.  See how companies like Ikea, L’Oreal and PepsiCo are using the hiring robot Vera in the recruiting process.

For the last several years the big issue I talked to new grads about was how to manage social media in the job search.  I wrote a lot about that.

You should know the basics of social media recruiting by now – clean up your digital dirt, stay professional when working with HR and make sure you are well represented across professional social networking sites like LinkedIn.

Artificial Intelligence in Hiring

Well today, new grads should know that the use of Artificial Intelligence in hiring, is dominating the recruiting conversation.   In other words, Artificial Intelligence is all over your job search and if recruiters are talking about it, then you need to know about it.

It is possible that as you apply for jobs, Artificial Intelligence in some way or the other, without getting too technical, is being used to:

-Screen or scan your resume or your CV.

-Schedule your job interviews or actually “meet with you” to conduct your interview.

-Compare your profile via your resume or application to the profile of successful employees in the organization and rating your potential.

Companies are increasingly depending on Artificial Intelligence in hiring because it saves time for recruiters on administrative work, reduces the costs of bad hires and some say – eliminates bias in the job search.

Whatever the reason, the Class of 2018 should know that all of us will be increasingly connect with Artificial Intelligence in hiring and the more we know about it the better prepared we will be.

Of course, Artificial Intelligence won’t completely replace the people in HR, but you may find that AI could either make it harder for you to get in front of a real person or fast track you through the process.

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Companies are Creating New Alumni Programs

Join an Alumni ProgramThere is another reason to never burn your bridges when you leave your company – You may want to go back one day.  And furthermore, the company may actually want you back!

Employers are doing more to create a new type of alumni program.  Not the type you probably already know about where graduates from the same college join together to help recruit more employees from their alma mater.  This is the alumni program that HR offices are building where the “alumni” are actually former employees.

In a recent publication from the Society for HR Management, one article says that Deloitte calls these types of alumni, “Colleagues for Life”.  Some other companies call these former workers “Boomerang Employees” or “Comeback Colleagues” because they leave, and the company is hoping they will come back.

With a tight job market where the unemployment rate is close to 4%, talent is sometimes hard to find and organizations are getting creative about where they source new employees.

Value of Alumni Programs

Here is the value companies are touting for participating in these new alumni programs:

87% allow these alumni to access company news and information

84% offer networking opportunities

80% invite alumni to special events

54% are offering alumni career development and continuing education

12% are offering groups for professional and personal interests

So if you are thinking about making a career move, think about a company where you may have already worked.

They may want you back.

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7 Workplace Disrupters Every Worker Should Know About

7 disrupters of work If you are a worker or future worker, it doesn’t hurt to get a little bit of understanding about how the folks who are interviewing you, offering you jobs and managing you, are thinking and going to be thinking.  (Graphic source – Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2018)

As you know I’ve been sharing trends on workplace practices that new college grads and emerging professionals should know about.  However, the rate of change today, means that this information is not just relevant for these two groups.  It’s relevant for everyone!!

This list of 7 Workplace Disrupters were on the agenda at IMPACT2018, an annual get together of HR leaders talking and learning about the future of people management in evolving workplaces.   The theme for this year’s gathering was: The Rise of the Individual in the Future of Work. 

The 7 Workplace Disrupters that are forcing us how to think about workplace practices are listed below.  This list is not to be feared of course, but to be acknowledged as the current realities through which we must navigate our professional lives.

The 7 Workplace Disrupters

-Technology is everywhere.

-Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cognitive Computing and Robotics is new to the list of trends that are impacting HR practice of recruitment and selection of job candidates.

-There is a tsunami of data that HR offices (and organizations) are increasingly using to help make decisions.

-Jobs are vulnerable to automation.

-Diversity and generational changes are a factor in today’s workplaces.

-There is an explosion in contingent work (The numbers of part-timers, freelancers and independent contractors is on the rise).

-Average length of time in a job is about 4.5 years and skills are basically “expiring” more quickly.

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Posted in Career Advice, Career and Industry Awareness, Diversity Recruiting, Employment Trends, First Year on the Job, Leadership, Life After College, What Employers Want | Tagged , | Comments Off on 7 Workplace Disrupters Every Worker Should Know About

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