Awards, AI and flexible work arrangements: the challenges ahead in 2020
Last week at Roubler HQ we hosted a range of experts from across the retail, HR and finance sectors for our very first breakfast event. Between bites of bagel and sips of skinny cappuccino, our guests shared some of the challenges they’re facing going into the new year, and gained some insights into what 2020 might hold technology-wise.
The conversation raised some important questions around the future of award compliance; how businesses can better support their team’s emotional wellbeing; and the ethics of artificial intelligence, which is already transforming the way we do business.
Is the modern award system working?
According to some of our guests, no. The modern award system is not in sync with the realities of today’s workforce. Over the past decade, technology has enabled a new flexibility in working arrangements, with one in three Australians regularly working from home. Shift-based employees are feeling the effects, with the average worker clocking six hours of unpaid labour each week.
The award system is yet to catch up with this fundamental change – and does not take into account the positive impact flexible working arrangements have on productivity, and the fact that businesses are often the ones who reap the benefits.
Should there be a payroll certification?
The jury’s out on this one. Navigating the award system is tough, even for a seasoned expert. With interpretations varying business to business and payroll officer to payroll officer, perhaps it’s time for a formalised payroll certification to ensure everyone is on an even playing field when it comes to compliance. After all, this is something the ATO has been exploring for years.
The issue though, isn’t clean-cut. While the benefits could be significant for businesses and employees, the costs involved could easily become unmanageable, particularly for small businesses with only a handful of employees. It’s a catch-22; the businesses who would potentially benefit the most from a formal certification are also those who are least likely to be able to afford it.
How can we be proactive with mental health?
Although most workplaces have the very best of intentions, the truth is that managers can easily become distracted and desensitised when it comes to their team’s emotional wellbeing – and it shows. According to a recent survey, 44% of employees believe their senior leaders do not value mental health, and mental illness costs the Australian economy more than $60 billion a year.
Artificial intelligence could provide some of the answers. Face recognition technology can be used to alert leaders to trends over time, enabling them to direct their care and attention to where it’s most needed. If done with sensitivity – and without overstepping the mark when it comes to personal privacy – the results could be nothing short of profound. We’re looking forward to seeing what’s coming in 2020!