2019 promises to be a year of intense change and economic uncertainty and organisations are unsure as to the impact upcoming changes will have on their workforce.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), which describes the advancement in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, 3-D printing and biotechnology, looks set to continue reshaping the way we work, live and play. And with Brexit drawing ever closer, UK businesses are still unclear as to the impact it will have on them.

It is even more important therefore, that businesses look for uncomplicated, cost-effective ways to support their people through 2019.

Brexit

There is still so much future uncertainty around Brexit, however some organisations are already feeling the pressure of a weaker pound. The negotiations that are currently taking place are already influencing the nature of workforce planning into 2019, with organisations positioning themselves to respond with as much agility as possible to the UK’s potential departure from the EU in March.

The CIPD is recommending that organisations take a proactive approach to preparing for possible Brexit outcomes through methodical workforce planning, understanding more about where the risks and opportunities are going to come from and how they can ensure they have the resources to respond.

PricewaterhouseCoopers reinforce this, stating “Without complete clarity until after the Brexit negotiation process, scenario planning now puts your business in a position to take charge, adapt, grab new opportunities and take full advantage of whatever the ‘new normal’ turns out to be”.

The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR)

We’re on the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution,. It’s quite different than the three Industrial Revolutions that preceded it—steam and water power, electricity and assembly lines, and computerization—because it will even challenge our ideas about what it means to be human.

First coined by Klaus Schwab in 2016, it is almost impossible to predict the ultimate impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is already affecting the ways in which we work, live and play.

As we implement smart technologies in our factories and workplaces, connected machines will interact, visualize the entire production chain and make decisions autonomously. This revolution is expected to impact all disciplines, industries, and economies.

The underlying basis for the 4IR lies in developments in communication and connectivity, and these advances will continue to connect billions of people to the web, drastically changing businesses and organisations. As well as this, huge advancements in robotics and automation are plainly making waves across all industries, resulting in workforce uncertainty.

We are already seeing the human impact and workforce restructure caused by these advancements. From professional services, such as accountancy and law, through to retail and manufacturing, organisations are reviewing the way they integrate technology, which in some cases is leading to a significant reorganisation of workforce. This may result in redundancies as new technology is implemented, or in the need for recruitment of staff with up to date expertise in new systems and processes.

We need to develop leaders with the skills to manage organisations through these dramatic shifts. As professionals, we need to embrace change and realize that what our jobs are today might be dramatically different in the not too distant future. Our education and training systems need to adapt to better prepare people for the flexibility and critical thinking skills they will need in the future workplace.

New Horizons can help

Whether affected by uncertainty surrounding Brexit or changes resulting from the Fourth Industrial Revolution, It is imperative that organisations review the support that they provide to individuals to help them transition effectively if their role is made redundant. Whether the transition be an internal redeployment or an external move, organisations will reap the benefits of supporting staff in the short term with a more flexible and engaged workforce, and in the long term through increased employer brand recognition.