Job Security

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Let Your Mind Wander

Leisure time does two important jobs for us. Recharging is the obvious one. But it can also heighten our powers of creativity, given the cognitive benefits associated with letting our minds wander — and that gives us an edge over AI in the battle for jobs. Kellogg professor Adam Waytz makes this research-based argument in “Leisure Is Our Killer App,” the lead article in MIT SMR’s package on talent in a digital age. Check it out, along with the other pieces, in the fall issue of the magazine.

Leisure Is Our Killer App

How can we avoid being automated out of our jobs? When recommending areas for development, experts tend to focus on two broad classes of skills that distinguish people from machines: sociability and variability. But homing in on those areas can lead to burnout, leaving us even more vulnerable to obsolescence. Leisure can mitigate these effects. Beyond reducing burnout, leisure is a uniquely human activity that robots cannot perform, and it might actually make us better thinkers and workers.

How Managers Can Best Support a Gig Workforce

The rise of digital giants in the gig economy has brought new scrutiny to how companies should manage contingent workers. This new landscape offers new flexibility and opportunity, but workers also face unpredictability, with inconsistent incomes and scant benefits. Companies and managers can take three practical measures to help support these workers in the future.

Critical Questions Live: Is It Up to Business to Save the Planet?

  • Video | Runtime: 0:59:42

  • Read Time: 6 min 

In this video, Andrew Winston, sustainability expert and author, and MIT professor Yossi Sheffi, director of the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, debate the role of for-profit businesses in supporting — and investing in — sustainability goals. The session was moderated by Paul Michelman, editor in chief of MIT Sloan Management Review.

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The 2018 Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize

The editors of MIT Sloan Management Review are pleased to announce the winner of this year’s Richard Beckhard Memorial Prize, awarded annually to the most outstanding MIT SMR article on planned change and organizational development. The 2018 award goes to “The Corporate Implications of Longer Lives,” by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, both professors at London Business School.

Four Ways Jobs Will Respond to Automation

The robots are coming! But counter to popular belief, it’s not just low-paying jobs that are at risk of automation. According to research by Scott Latham and Beth Humberd, predicting which jobs are vulnerable requires analyzing the type of value job holders deliver and the skills they use to deliver it. Workers must understand four paths of job evolution — and factors behind each path — if they hope to adapt.

How AI Can Amplify Human Competencies

The fear of robots eclipsing human power in society, in particular the workforce, has persisted for decades despite the moderate progress of artificial intelligence systems. For professor and robotics researcher Ken Goldberg, a hybrid human-machine workforce is much more likely to take shape, and in many industries, it has already begun.

The Time for Retraining Is Now

  • Read Time: 6 min 

None of us know how our technological future will unfold. But whether there will be a net increase or decrease in jobs overall, it’s clear that these will be different jobs, requiring different skill sets. We need to act now to enable current employers and employees to gain the skills they are going to need in the brave world of AI technology.

How Leaders Face the Future of Work

Some leaders have failed to realize that the daily lives of those who work in their organizations will inevitably be transformed over the coming decades. But it’s the responsibility of leaders to create clarity about the future of work. That means being engaged with creating a narrative about the future of jobs, actively championing the learning agenda, and role modeling work flexibility — for instance, by taking paternity leave or working from home.

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Building a Robotic Colleague With Personality

Researchers are exploring how to create intelligent machines that work with us better as opposed to taking our place. Robots that can express human body language can have a positive effect on their human colleagues, enabling them to be more effective at their jobs, take on higher-level tasks, and realize psychological benefits. The overall result is a more productive human-robot team.

The Long Journey to Understanding Intangible Assets

  • Read Time: 5 min 

The “intangible assets” people bring to their jobs are valuable — but challenging to quantify. Understanding the complexities of assets such as a person’s capacity to continue to learn new skills and ability to manage the stress of work and home life can help organizations get a better handle on alternate ways of sustaining employees. Understanding the notion of intangible assets can also help individuals think more concretely about how they allocate their time and energy.

Don’t Get Caught in the Middle

There was once a time when middlemen were indispensable. Intermediaries facilitated transactions between makers and buyers; they closed the gaps between disconnected entities that required one another for survival; and, within organizations, they interpreted high-level corporate strategy and connected it to front-line execution. But one by one, such intermediaries are being made obsolete by technology.

Who’s Building the Infrastructure for Lifelong Learning?

  • Read Time: 6 min 

Current trends in both human longevity and technological innovation raise the possibility of people living until 100 and working until they are 80. It’s clear that much will have to change — both in how people understand and anticipate the evolving nature of work, and how they then respond. Providing access to lifelong learning demands a complex system involving stakeholders in education, government, and the corporate world.

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When Jobs Become Commodities

Most of us view our jobs as specialized or somehow differentiated, but the world of business and management increasingly feels otherwise. For many organizations today, the next big driver of job commoditization is automation driven by smart machines. Simply put, if a job is viewed as a commodity, it won’t be long before it’s automated. The key for workers whose jobs have traditionally seemed safe: Highlight the tasks that require a human touch.

Video: Preparing for the Changes AI Will Bring to Tomorrow’s Jobs

At the MIT Sloan School of Management’s 14th annual CIO Symposium, “The CIO Adventure: Now, Next and… Beyond,” senior IT executives came together to discuss key technologies, including how AI will transform the workplace. The goal: to help prepare these tech leaders for challenges they face, including shepherding ongoing digital transformations, building a digital organization, and managing IT talent.

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