13 min read
May 20, 2021
Human Resources

The New Jobs Needed For the Future of Work

Your company may not need an algorithm auditor or ethical sourcing officer today, but it will soon.

B.W.
Brian WestfallPrincipal Analyst

In 2017, Dell and the Institute for the Future (IFTF) made the bold prediction that 85% of jobs in 2030 hadn’t been invented yet. Their reasoning was that advancements in technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud computing were changing the way companies were operating so rapidly that traditional jobs would eventually become obsolete. Put more simply: New types of jobs would be needed in the future of work.

Cut to four years later, and their prediction is sounding less and less like science fiction every day. With technology weaving its way into more and more processes and interactions with even the smallest businesses, and customers and employees alike shifting their priorities and expectations, we’re already seeing new jobs pop up that didn’t exist back in 2017.

What is the function of these new jobs? And how do they help businesses thrive in the future of work? We’re here to give you all the answers. If you’re a recruiter or HR leader, read on to learn more about the jobs you could be hiring for at your business sooner rather than later.

Algorithm auditor

What do they do?

An algorithm auditor is in charge of analyzing algorithms found in customer- and employee-facing software systems to ensure they are recommending the best actions for the business. Checking algorithms for red flags such as usage of off-limits data and biased results, algorithm auditors also teach employees how to responsibly incorporate data and AI into decision-making.

What are the ideal skills and experience for this job?

  • College degree in computer science or data science

  • Certifications in machine learning, data ethics, and algorithmic biases

  • Prior experience as a software engineer or data scientist

Why is this job going to be important?

AI and machine learning are no longer far-flung technologies of the future, but a growing part of today’s businesses. According to GetApp’s Top Technology Trends survey* conducted in 2020, 31% of small businesses are already using AI and machine learning, with 34% planning to use this technology in the next 12 to 18 months (full methodology at the end of this page).

Small business plans with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning

Found in all types of business software, companies are leveraging AI and machine learning to improve user experiences, make processes more efficient, and arrive at better data-driven decisions. That’s the good news.

The bad news is, when businesses keep blindly using AI without fully understanding what data it’s using or how it’s arriving at its recommendations, they risk making disastrous moves. Just ask Amazon, who built an AI recruiting tool that turned out to be biased against women

For those who develop software in-house or sell software to customers, an algorithm auditor will be essential to ensuring these biases don’t plague their products. But even businesses that don’t make software, and instead buy it from a vendor, should consider creating this role in their organization to put a microscope to the technology behind an increasing number of business decisions.

Chief wellbeing officer

What do they do?

This executive’s responsibility is managing employee mental health and wellbeing. Working with other HR leaders and middle management, the chief wellbeing officer (CWO) is in charge of implementing wellness benefits that align with workforce needs, tracking wellness program usage and effectiveness, and keeping an ongoing pulse on workforce morale.

What are the ideal skills and experience for this job?

  • College degree in HR management, business management, or psychology

  • Certifications in HR management, employee benefits, and data analytics

  • Prior experience as a chief HR officer (CHRO) or other senior-level HR leader

Why is this job going to be important?

Employee burnout, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2019 as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed,” is a problem that continues to plague organizations. In GetApp’s HR in the New Era survey** from January 2021, 77% of U.S. small business employees who are working from home due to COVID-19 told us they have experienced burnout. For Gen Z workers ages 18 to 25, that number jumps to 92%.

Degree of burnout experience by U.S. small business employees working from home

Solutions such as encouraging employees to take more PTO and implementing hard work stops haven’t fixed the problem. Neither has putting the task of managing burnout on a CEO, CHRO, or other company leader who has other responsibilities (and business metrics) that take priority. Unless businesses put dedicated resources toward mitigating burnout, employee productivity and engagement will continue to suffer.

This is why a CWO will be an important role. By having an executive solely dedicated to implementing wellness solutions, marketing them, and monitoring their effectiveness, companies may finally be able to get rid of their burnout problems once and for all.

Ethical sourcing officer

What do they do?

An ethical sourcing officer works with raw materials providers, production facilities, and other supply chain partners to ensure that processes meet the ethical standards set by the company. Their goal is to minimize the waste, energy consumption, labor exploitation, and the overall impact on the environment of the company’s products and services.

What are the ideal skills and experience for this job?

  • College degree in supply chain management or corporate governance

  • Certifications in sustainability and corporate social responsibility

  • Prior experience as a procurement officer or other type of supply chain leader

Why is this job going to be important?

More than ever, customers care how the things they purchase are made. In a 2019 survey, 70% of consumers said that sustainability was at least “somewhat important” to them when making a purchase, and 47% said they would pay more for a sustainable product.

Customers aren’t the only ones pushing for greener products either. According to GetApp’s Sustainable Practices survey*** conducted in March 2021, businesses themselves have found numerous benefits by adopting sustainable practices such as lower costs (27%) and higher employee morale (19%).

Benefits experienced from investments in sustainability

In other words, sustainability is only going to become more and more important over time—not only for every company’s public image, but for the sake of their production yield and efficiency as well. 

An ethical sourcing officer will be the one to lead this initiative. By negotiating with partners and analyzing the ins-and-outs of their processes, your ethical sourcing officer can ensure your company isn’t using materials with a large carbon footprint, creating unnecessary waste, or exploiting unethical labor practices.

Human-machine teaming manager

What do they do?

A human-machine teaming manager not only identifies opportunities where human-based work can benefit from machines, but also defines how employees and machines should work together to accomplish tasks. 

What are the ideal skills and experience for this job?

  • College degree in computer science, engineering, or operations management

  • Certifications in robotics, cognitive design, and business process management

  • Prior experience as an engineer or operations manager

Why is this job going to be important?

Are robots going to take all of our jobs? Experts say that’s not likely. Instead, machines (in both physical and virtual forms) will work alongside humans in a variety of ways to boost their productivity and efficiency. We’re already seeing this take place in industries such as manufacturing and healthcare.

We’re also seeing how this relationship can cause more problems than it solves. In a study by the University of Illinois focused on warehouse automation, researchers found that tools such as self-driving shelving carts, body sensors, and AI-powered management systems boosted productivity in the short run, but also led to more injuries and turnover long-term as workers felt pressured to work harder under more intense scrutiny.

A human-machine teaming manager can help companies avoid these pitfalls by first identifying the optimal way for employees and machines to work together on a given task. As MIT explains here, there isn’t just one way for humans and machines to work side-by-side. A human-machine teaming manager can weigh the opportunities and risks involved with the task to arrive at the best partnership.

Human and machine work methods

MIT found that humans and machines can work together in one of four ways (Source: MIT Sloan Management Review)

A human-machine teaming manager can then monitor these tasks over time, assess the impact on employees and productivity, and tweak processes as needed to ensure that the worker—and the company as a whole—is actually benefiting from these relationships in the long run.

How you can prepare for future of work jobs today

If you had asked a CEO 20 years ago what they were doing to avoid algorithmic bias or optimize the working relationship between man and machine, you would have gotten some strange looks. But these are the kinds of challenges that companies face in the future of work.

The new jobs we cover here will be critical in helping businesses to succeed sooner rather than later. Don’t wait until you need to hire for them though; here’s how you should prepare today:

  • Revisit your org structure: Is your org structure setting your company up for future success, or creating unnecessary bottlenecks and reporting lines? Before you add more roles to the mix, meet with company leadership to reassess where the structure can be more efficient and agile.

  • Assess current employees’ skills and career plans: Until dedicated career paths are created for these new jobs, you’ll need to hire based on skills and experience in related fields. A talent management system is a great way to track employee skills and keep a tab on workers who look like promising candidates to fill these roles.

  • Update your candidate pool: You may have passed on a candidate for a current job who would be a perfect fit for a future one. Revisit past candidates in your applicant tracking system (ATS), update their profiles, and make a note to reach out to them when the opportunity presents itself.

  • Develop new skills internally: If you know your business is going to need a new skill in the near-future, why wait? With the right learning management system, you can upgrade your company’s training program and assign workers to take online courses and earn important certifications.

Survey methodology

* The GetApp Top Technology Trends Survey 2020 was conducted from August 24 - September 27, 2020 of 1,000 small business leaders from the USA, Canada, UK, and Australia. Respondents were screened for two to 499 employees and $5-250 million in annual revenue. Respondents are required to be involved in purchasing technologies for the organization and hold a manager-level position or above in the company. We worded the questions to ensure that each respondent fully understood the meaning and the topic at hand.

** The GetApp HR in the New Era Survey 2021 was conducted in January 2021. We surveyed 922 workers at small businesses with two to 500 employees in the U.S. We worded the questions to ensure that each respondent fully understood the meaning and the topic at hand.

*** The GetApp Sustainability Practices Survey 2021 was conducted in March 2021. We surveyed 402 full-time employees at U.S. companies with one to 1,000 employees. We worded the questions to ensure that each respondent fully understood the meaning and the topic at hand.

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