Written by Lee-Anne Hunt – The HR Dept Ringwood
Everywhere I go these days I see more and more automation and self-service. I know it makes life quicker and apparently cheaper, but does it make it better?
I no longer need to queue at the bank or the checkout; I can do it all online thank you. I don’t even need to speak to a real person; ever!
Does anyone else lament the loss of the service station attendants? When I was little I longed for the day when I could drive and have someone fill up my car, wash my windscreen and pump my tyres and be just as important as my mum. Ah, but no, when my turn came; it was out in the cold with me; I have to do it all myself.
And where has all this taken us? Of course, I can see the benefits. The opportunity to connect with loved ones far away and reach thousands of strangers with my words on LinkedIn is truly wonderful.
But I miss the idle chit chat. Standing in the queue comparing my shopping with the person before me. Laughing with the checkout operator and fellow customers. Having someone actually assist me. Knowing there is nothing else I can do right now but pass the time. I miss that sense of community and belonging with the other people in the store; even if only for a minute.
I’m lucky; I still live in a street where neighbours wave and smile and chat over the bins. And yes, I do have family and friends and the dog to chat to when things are quiet. It’s not that. I just wonder if technology is taking us further away from each other rather than bringing us closer together.
Being in HR and having children I do think about the future of the workforce and what I should be preparing them all for. I want to know that real people customer service and community connection will always be a part of our modern world and social skills like empathy and compassion will matter.
I fear that our constant need for progress and efficiency will further erode our connection and make it easier to be less compassionate. In the words of Brene Brown; “it’s hard to hate close up”.