I recently read a very interesting, although somewhat alarming, article revealing the top 10 U.S. jobs that are rapidly disappearing before our very eyes. Obvious explanations are stated, and there are several for each occupation.
As you might expect, technology has played an intricate part in eradicating jobs that many of us might have expected to remain status quo for decades to come. Outsourcing and off shoring have already negatively impacted a variety of industries, and repercussions are predicted to target a growing number of U.S. jobs.
These influences, of course, are all very significant issues that must be taken very seriously by employers in every enterprise today as we face a very competitive global marketplace. However, as I reviewed the Top 10 jobs that are threatened more and more every day, another major issue became very apparent. Take a closer look at numbers one and four.
Here are 10 jobs that are shrinking fast:
Cost-effective self-check-out lanes are becoming very much the norm today from coast to coast. This new concept requires one employee to oversee as many as 8 to 10 check-out areas. It won’t be long before you won’t even have to remove your merchandise from the cart.
- Couriers and Messengers
There are faster ways to send messages these days … e-mail and fax. In addition, some legal and financial documents are now signed online and sent electronically.
- Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers and Weighers
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), companies are increasingly using automated inspection equipment.
- Customer Service Representatives
Instant messaging software, automated response systems, automated voice-mail systems, or web site FAQ pages are already being used extensively, and the OOH is predicting great strides in the technological impact we can expect in these areas in the near future.
- Book Binders
Much of this work is currently being outsourced to inexpensive overseas labor. In addition, the OOH is predicting much less demand for printed material and an increasing reliance on digital publications.
- Film Processors
Look what digital cameras have done to professional photographers. Today, many people have digital cameras or camera phones that use electronic memory to store images. If you have a computer and printer, you can download, retouch and print out your own photos.
- Fishers and Fishing Vessel Operators
Not only is this a very dangerous job that keeps fishermen away from their homes for long periods of time, but weather conditions are also becoming very unpredictable. Decreasing supplies of fish stock plus the rapidly growing advent of “fish farms” is creating an adverse effect on the retention of fishermen.
- Electronic Home Entertainment Equipment Installers and Repairers
It seems that almost every year advances in technology are driving prices lower while making these products more and more reliable. Many consumers today find it cheaper and less of a hassle to replace a product than to have it repaired.
- Procurement Clerks
Warehouses, transportation vehicles, and retail stores today are equipped with technology that tracks merchandise en route to its final destination, keeps track of how long it’s on the shelf, and automatically reorders more merchandise as the products pass through the cash register.
- Power Plant Operators
Again, technology steps in with automatic controls and computerized equipment. We’re even importing energy from other areas in many cases.
As we review jobs one and four think about this question. How will removing cashiers as well as customer service representatives from the workforce impact an already decreasing level of customer service in this country? While technology and automation can add speed, increase reliability, and reduce cost for the business involved, how will that impact the frustrated customer who already feels that no one really cares anymore?
As businesses save dollars by modernizing, they might consider investing some of that savings in finding a way to nurture those dispirited patrons who are ready to take their loyalty elsewhere. While these new strategies may prove very advantageous for some business owners, they could very easily become disastrous for others.
Many organizations practice the philosophy of eliminating employee training when times get tough, the economy is bad, competition increases, or belt tightening is required. Maybe these situations could be more successfully dealt with if employee training was increased and customer satisfaction and loyalty became the FOCUS of the organization. Profitable, growing organizations seem to utilize that strategy quite well. It’s amazing that those who are struggling never seem to recognize that reality.
Fear not, the above jobs will probably never disappear totally. It seems as though every time one job disappears, another is created. Those who used to make buggy whips moved on to produce the automobile. And you can count on the fact that there will always be a part of the population that doesn’t conform to the latest technology. However, as demand for some of these jobs decrease and we choose to have less and less “human contact,” we best not lose sight of the customer who is so greatly impacted by such choices. Continuing to provide unparalleled customer service and satisfaction could very well become a decisive factor in the success of your business. This is especially true in the case where your competition has chosen to sacrifice this strategy to save a few dollars.
Outsource, offshore, modernize, automate, downsize, right size, strategize, or worship at the throne of technology, but never forget that your customers will determine your ultimate success or failure. There have been many who have disagreed with that notion … but they’re no longer with us.
About Harry K. Jones
Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.