Can Technology Replace the Need for Human Workers?

Oct 06, 2015

Can Technology Replace the Need for Human Workers?

It seems as if technology is slowly, but surely, stealing jobs away from human beings. Companies are finding financial savings and increased reliability from using machines over muscles and minds. Independent robots, without the assistance of doctors, can now perform medical surgery on patients. Some vacuum cleaners can find their way around the house, cleaning floors without harming furniture, pets, or children. Computers can now translate foreign languages in real time—no human translators required. A major concern for workers today, for better or worse, is that technology can replicate what people are capable of doing. From offices to factories, technology is quickly doing more jobs—and better—than humans. But technology cannot replace a crucial trait of being human, our emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence includes an individual's ability to recognize and regulate emotions in himself or herself and others. It is a person's biases and clarity in thinking, resulting in decision-making and judgment. Our emotional intelligence as humans allows us to feel empathy toward other humans—something a computer will never be able to do.

In a July 23, 2015, Fortune article titled Humans Are Underrated, adapted from a new book of the same title, author Geoff Colvin suggests that there are activities that humans will simply insist be performed by other humans, even if computers could do them. These include "accountability roles," such as those occupied by judges in courts of law, chief executive officers, generals, and government leaders.

The issue isn't computer abilities; it's the social necessity that individuals be accountable for important decisions, Mr. Colvin's article states.

The social necessity to hold humans accountable for their judgment and actions reflects the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace. Emotionally intelligent employees can manage their own impulses, communicate with others effectively, manage change well, solve problems, and use humor to build rapport in tense situations. These employees also have empathy, remain optimistic even in the face of adversity, and are gifted at educating and persuading, whereas employees with low emotional intelligence are more likely to violate company ethics and policies, ignore rules of the organization, use illegal drugs while on the job, cause conflict, and put their self-interest ahead of organizational values. Our emotional intelligence separates people from machines, but it also holds us accountable for our human actions.

Mr. Colvin's Fortune article goes on to explain that the need for interaction with other people is an essential part of human nature, and effectiveness as a group depends on the human abilities that build relationships, such as empathy, sensitivity, and collaboration.

We developed these abilities of interaction with other people, not machines, not even emotion-sensing, emotion-expressing machines Mr. Colvin writes in the Fortune article.

Yes, over time and across industries, technology has increased the ability for companies to accomplish more—produce more, serve more, and make more money. The fear of technological unemployment is as old as technology itself. But technology is limited to being technical, never human. And humans, being emotionally intelligent beings, should never be underrated. After all, we created technology.

Does your company recruit highly emotional intelligent job candidates? If not, ZERORISK HR can assist you with pre-employment assessment services, which objectively measures candidates' emotional intelligence competencies to ensure top performers are selected for the roles your company needs filled.

ZERORISK helps organizations build great cultures by identifying, developing, and retaining top talent. The ZERORISK Hiring System blends a revolutionary behavioral science with state-of-the-art technology to reduce unwanted turnover and improve employee performance. For more information contact us at (800) 827-5991.

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