Emotional intelligence will still be a key attribute once AI takes over our rudimentary work. By Candice Chung
It’s a question straight out of a science fiction novel . . . will artificial intelligence eventually replace us?
As machines continue to get smarter, and our appetite for quotidian technology grows, it makes sense that the most rudimentary work involving rote tasks and mass information processing are being automated. Think of a time when the ATM didn’t exist, or when ticket sales were only done over the phone or in person; or the idle nights at video stores where memories of summer jobs — once a rite of passage for cash-strapped teens — grew faint as well-worn VHS tapes. All those tasks were once performed by humans, but now, a world of digital providers await us.
But while it’s true that artificial intelligence is changing the labour landscape, experts believe it will also bring forth opportunities for a different kind of talent.
“There’s a lot of speculation that many employees will lose their jobs due to new technology, [but it has actually] allowed us to more effective pinpoint where, and how, we want people to work for us,” says Sue Howse, managing director of Harrier Talent Solutions.
“What automation and robotics can’t do is strategically manage themselves, staff, clients or take into account the unknown or the Black Swan events of the world. To be successful companies will always need those with a high level of emotional intelligence (EQ) who can navigate different circumstances.”
Areas that will see a rise in demand for high-EQ employees include client-facing and decision-making roles. In fact, according to findings on Havard Business Review, skills like “persuasion, social understanding, and empathy” are going to become “more and more prized over the next decade”, as artificial intelligence take over menial tasks.
“When the limits of technology have been reached and human interaction is required to solve a problem, a new type of person needs to show up”
– Linda Simonsen, CEO of Future People
There will also be a spike in demand for roles that require emotional labour. “Emotional labour refers to work that involves managing one’s own emotions or those of others. This especially applies to leadership roles and project managers leading change and transformation, as well as front line roles that involve engaging people, such as contact centre and face-to-face customer service and sales,” says Linda Simonsen, CEO of FuturePeople.
“When the limits of technology have been reached and human interaction is required to solve a problem, a new type of person needs to show up. This in-demand person will be a highly engaged, knowledgeable and emotionally intelligent brand ambassador who can connect emotionally, show empathy and personalise the solution.”
The key to thriving in the era of AI is a willingness to embrace change and demonstrate flexibility. “It’s an exciting time. AI is a positive step for the business world,” says Simonsen.
“It will see non-value-add and transactional tasks automated, freeing up people to do what makes them human – that is, their ability to feel and impact how others feel; think creatively; collaborate and engage with others to solve complex problems.