Tech Trends

Key Predictions & Implications for Employee Assistance

By Marina London, LCSW, CEAP


Fast Company is a business magazine that focuses on innovations in technology, business, and design. To celebrate their 20th anniversary, Fast Company published an issue that reviewed their take on the most important events of the past 20 years and their 20 key predictions for the next 20.

Some of the predictions have the potential to impact employee assistance. Here are the 10 relevant ones (condensed) with my view of their implication for our industry:

Speed will Triumph. Speed is the most important business imperative. Every industry has to be prepared for frequent iteration and redefinition and embrace change.

What this means for EA: Get ready to continuously and rapidly learn and incorporate evidence-based best practices, genetic advances in the treatment of major mental illness, and new social media channels that impact the way you market your services.

Malala will Build. After you’ve won a Nobel Peace Prize as a teenager, what’s next? Malala Yousafzai represents the leading edge of a cohort that is only just being unleashed: young talent growing up in obscure corners of the globe. This generation will increasingly have the tools and opportunity to redefine our world.

What this means for EA: There will be huge opportunities in China, India, and Africa for EAP growth and practice.

Digital Tools will Unlock Opportunity. Inequality remains rampant across the United States and around the world. But rising mobile penetration offers the potential to shift that dynamic. The teachers and students of tomorrow will not be confined to classrooms, nor to the countries and cities that can afford them.

What this means for EA: Mobile service delivery is an opportunity and a necessity.

Diversity will Increase. Our population is becoming increasingly heterogeneous.

What this means for EA: Prepare for five generations to interact in the workplace. Get ready to serve multi-racial, multi-ethnic, and multi-gendered clients.

Mission will Trump Money. Recent real-world studies have shown that having a purpose associated with work produces better performance than pure financial reward.

What this means for EA: What services will you offer that will feed the next generation of workers who expect to be engaged in their jobs through more than just financial means?

DNA will be Unstoppable. The decoding of the human genome has already launched a wave of new treatments and approaches. Inspiring as these examples are, though, the impact of genetic data is in its infancy.

What this means for EA: Many mental disorders will be treated with individually targeted medication. Will the role of talk therapy change?

Medical Training will be Rewritten. As our library of medical knowledge expands beyond any doctor’s ability to retain all that information, the MDs of the future will have to become data interpreters, tapping into Watson-like technical tools to both diagnose conditions and optimize treatments.

What this means for EA: Will we similarly access the best tools, resources and interventions for our clients?

Human Empathy will be Central. As machine learning and artificial intelligence insinuate themselves more deeply into the workplace, the one arena that will never be usurped by technology is human-to-human communication.

What this means for EA: There will still be a role for talk therapy and personal interaction.

Cybersecurity will be Costly. Every company is a “tech company” today because we all use technology to operate. That means we are all vulnerable to “cyber­disruption,” regardless of whether it’s from hackers or other reasons. Every enterprise will need cyber­protection in ways that haven’t historically been budgeted for.

What this means for EA: Are your social networks HIPAA compliant? Do your EA consultants understand encryption? Are your client records safe?

We will all be Family. The ongoing wave of technological change will only draw us into closer proximity. It will be increasingly difficult to ignore the troubles in other parts of the globe.

What this means for EA: We already see this happening. The terrorist attack in Paris created anxiety in the US and led to a client walking into your office because they no longer feel safe. Think globally.

References

Twenty Predictions for the Next 20 Years. Robert Safian. Fast Company. December 2015-January 2016 Retrieved from http://www.fastcompany.com/3052872/twenty-predictions-for-the-next-20-years  

Marina London is Manager of Web Services for EAPA and author of iWebU, (http://www.iwebu.info,) a weekly blog for mental health and EA professionals who are challenged by social media and Internet technologies. She previously served as an executive for several national EAP and managed mental health care firms. She can be reached at m.london@eapassn.org.