The Stone Age, the Bronze Age, the Space Age, even the Information Age -- they're all so yesterday. According to a group of experts and pundits at the World Economic Forum (WEF), we are now entering 'The Human Age,' and there's no need to worry about robots and computers taking over our jobs.
Previous eras were defined first by the raw materials that transformed them – the Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age, then they were characterized by the domains people conquered with ever-improving technology – the Industrial Age, Space Age and Information Age. Now we're entering a new age: The Human Age. according to Manpower Inc. Chairman & CEO, Jeffrey A. Joerres. He claims that human potential has now become the major agent of economic growth.
News network CNBC seems to agree, having sponsored a panel discussion in Davos entitled, "Entering the Human Age – unleashing and leveraging human potential in the new reality," with many an intellectual heavy weight on board.
"Our ability as companies, as governments and of course individuals to adjust to this new reality, this new way of doing things, will depend upon to what extent we can tap into inner human potential – talent has become the key differentiator," said Joerres. "Understanding how to unleash this spirit, passion and potential is not a one-size-fits-all approach and will require employers to engage with their people on a human level."
"In the past, it was a 'war for talent,' now it's a war for talents," added Joerres. "What we're seeing now and what we're hearing from the companies we're dealing with is that in order to get ahead you have to have the talent you need not just in a few key executive roles, but in every position in the organization. Margins have been squeezed to such a point of tension that every role matters, every role must be as productive and efficient as it can be – in roles ranging from the CEO to the janitor."
As organizations and governments realize that the only path to success is through unleashing human potential, and providing an appropriate environment in which to do so, the motivations and preferences of individuals will become increasingly important. Technology and the growth of social media have led to a new level of transparency and the ability to directly engage and have a human-to-human conversation with almost anyone – whether as employer to employee or retailer to consumer.
This means that the world is likely to see a shift in power from the organization to the individual, according to the Joerres. As talent becomes the key competitive differentiator for employers, skilled individuals will increasingly be able to dictate terms to employers, around how, where and when they work. Technology will continue to liberate; redefining concepts of flexible and collaborative working, allowing some skilled individuals to vault the restrictions of national borders and migration caps, and organizations to take advantage of a geographically disparate workforce.
So there you have it. Experts are saying that computers and technology are not going to make the human worker obsolete, but more important than ever. And the "machines" will help us customize our work environment and conditions to our own liking, for maximum human productivity. The Human Age is sounding pretty good.