2019 - The year technology will change the way we work

"Integrated employee experience", admin automation and the gig economy will revolutionise our workplaces.

South African companies are changing and becoming more focused on engaging with their employees. The coming months will see more businesses embrace technology not for its own sake, but how it can enhance how staff work.

Gys Kappers, CEO of Wyzetalk, believes “the integrated employee experience” will become one of the buzz phrases of 2019.

“The consumerisation of technology gave impetus to this shift with digital transformation reinforcing it. People expect to be engaged differently. In turn, organisations must drive workplace strategies in new ways. This employee engagement is driving the consolidating of apps, processes and software that run amok in companies. Part of this will entail accepting the potential of human resource automation to better integrate all these once disparate areas.”

This move towards digital will see mobile communication at organisations used in new and innovative ways to interact with employees. Local and international organisations realise that post box communication and suggestions boxes are obsolete.

“Instead, operating processes need to be reengineered to become more responsive to employee requirements as well as responding to any concerns they might have. This will drive a more connected workplace where all employees are in the same communications environment. Global organisations want to connect better with workers in remote parts of the world. As with the employee experience, integrating and automating HR processes will help drive efficiencies within the business.”

Being connected also brings with it the much-maligned artificial intelligence (AI) revolution. But, instead of replacing people, AI will most likely be focused on automation in the workplace.

“Even though AI and machine-learning are used by some companies to great effect, true adoption will likely only happen within a year or two. By automating many of the menial and administrative-intensive tasks, employees have more time to focus on providing more strategic value to the organisation,” says Kappers.

Deloitte has found that while social media tools are not part of AI, but rather an extension of being accessible around the cloud, companies using these tools internally have seen a 20 percent increase in employee satisfaction. Furthermore, those businesses that drive employee engagement through technology see a seven percent increase in staff retention.

Another workplace trend that will likely dominate in 2019 is the continued emergence of the gig economy. This sees independent workers offered contracts for short-term engagements. An Intuit 2020 Report estimates that by 2020, 40 percent of workers in the US will be independent contractors.

Kappers says: 

“Given the unemployment challenges in developing countries like South Africa, this approach could be critical in getting more people jobs albeit in a non-traditional manner. Potentially, we could see a work environment where specialists are contracted on a project-basis with full-time employees used for strategic functions." 

He adds that 2019 will see exciting times in workplaces throughout the country.

“Executives need to start thinking outside the box in how they keep people motivated, engaged, and excited to come to the office. 2019 will be a significant year for change and creating engaged employees. How far the business is willing to take it is entirely up to its need for growth.”