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Electronic Circuit Board

Stream 5: Digitalization & the Future Workforce

About stream 5

Change in technology, business, the economy, and society - such as cognitive computing, globalization, flexible work spaces, and an ageing population - all shape the ‘what/how’, ‘where/when, and ‘who’ of work. This research stream focuses on how work is changing, and in particular, addresses the question: ‘what is the role of work design in delivering the benefits (or mitigating against the detriments) of radical change occurring in work and society?' It also focuses on the “who” of work, and especially how the population is ageing creating a more mature workforce.

Ongoing and Past Projects

Digitalization and its impact on work. Technological change is accelerating rapidly, bringing with it both opportunities and challenges for work and society (Parker & Grote, 2020; Parker & Grote, 2022). On the positive side, there is potential for technology to replace dangerous or undesirable work, enable more efficient and cheaper public services, and augment human performance in critical tasks (such as the diagnosis of rare diseases; see Hay et al. 2020). Building on this, our research has explored how the use of information communication technologies (ICTs) affects the nature and quality of work, and the potential of these technologies to enhance employees’ work effectiveness and wellbeing (Wang et al., 2020). 

On the other hand, digital technologies bring substantial risks for work and workers. Our research has shown that some work practices enabled by digital technologies, such as the management of employees via algorithms, can be highly disruptive and lead to negative outcomes for workers (Parent-Rocheleau & Parker, 2021). Additionally, some researchers and commentators have highlighted the potential for automation and artificial intelligence to eradicate the need for human workers at all (Frey & Osbourne, 2017). While the extent to which digitalization will impact the future jobs market has been a source of contention, there is a general consensus that the overall structure of the workforce will change, particularly in regards to the less-skilled workforce (Brynjolfsson et al., 2018). 

Despite the clear potential for digital technologies to radically change the nature of our jobs and tasks, much of the existing research has emphasised how workers need to adapt to technology, rather than how work designs and technologies can be adapted to better meet the competencies, needs, and values of humans. A key priority of our research is to fill this deficit, providing a human-centred approach to reap the benefits of technological advancements.

Aging workers. It is important to consider work design in regard to the future workforce. One significant trend here is population ageing, which increases the imperative to attract and retain older workers. We are conducting research on mature workers as part of the Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research, see here XXXXXX.

Practical resources

Animated video (Wang, Liu, & Parker, 2020): How does the use of ICT affect individuals? A work design perspective.

Animated video (Parker & Andrei, 2020): How to reap the benefits of a mature workforce

CEPAR report (Baird, Hamilton, Gulesserian, Williams, & Parker, 2021): An employer lens on COVID-19: Adapting to change in Australian workplaces

Cepar report (Andrei, Parker, Constantin, Baird, Iles, Petery, Zozek, Williams, & Chen, 2019): Maximising potential: Findings from the Mature Workers in Organisations Survey (MWOS)

Research Publications Related to Work Design and Mental Health


Gagné, M., Parker, S. K., Griffin, M. A., Dunlop, P. D., Knight, C., Klonek, F. E., & Parent-Rocheleau, X. (2022). Understanding and shaping the future of work with self-determination theory. Nature Reviews Psychology, 1(7), 378-392.

Parker, S. K., & Grote, G. (2022). More than ‘more than ever’: Revisiting a work design and sociotechnical perspective on digital technologies. Applied Psychology, 71(4), 1215-1223.


Hay, G. J., Klonek, F. E., Thomas, C. S., Bauskis, A., Baynam, G., & Parker, S. K. (2020). SMART work design: Accelerating the diagnosis of rare diseases in the Western Australian Undiagnosed Diseases Program. Frontiers in Pediatrics, 582.


Knight, C., Kaur, S., & Parker, S. K. (2021). Work Design in the Contemporary Era. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Business and Management. Oxford University Press.


Parker, S. K., & Grote, G. (2022). Automation, algorithms, and beyond: Why work design matters more than ever in a digital world. Applied Psychology, 71(4), 1171-1204.


Parent-Rocheleau, X., & Parker, S. K. (2022). Algorithms as work designers: How algorithmic management influences the design of jobs. Human Resource Management Review, 32(3), 100838.


Wang, B., Liu, Y., & Parker, S. K. (2020). How does the use of information communication technology affect individuals? A work design perspective. Academy of Management Annals, 14(2), 695-725.


Wang, B., Liu, Y., & Parker, S. K. (2021). Let’s get on the same page: Conceptual clarification of individual-level information and communication technology use. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 14(3), 404-408.

Future workforce including older workers

Parker, S. K., & Andrei, D. M. (2020). Include, individualize, and integrate: Organizational meta-strategies for mature workers. Work, Aging and Retirement, 6(1), 1-7.


Petery, G., Andrei, D., & Parker, S. (2019). Mature workers in organisations: Insights from CEPAR's benchmarking survey of the Australian workforce. In the 5th Age in the Workplace Meeting.


Petery, G. A., Iles, L. J., & Parker, S. K. (2020). Putting successful aging into context. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 13(3), 377-382.


Petery, G. A., Wee, S., Dunlop, P. D., & Parker, S. K. (2020). Older workers and poor performance: Examining the association of age stereotypes with expected work performance quality. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 28(4), 510-521.

See our publications page

For further information on our research

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