Mixed Views On Automation Among Workers

Recent research suggests workers have mixed views on the potential impacts of automation on the workforce.

Automation in the workplace isn’t anything new. From the breakthroughs of the Industrial Revolution to today’s advanced robotics and computerized processes, automation is fully embedded into the American workforce. But broadly speaking, employee views of automation are mixed. Up to a point, automation can make their lives and jobs easier, but if automation gets too effective, it can potentially render their jobs obsolete.

Research Reveals Interesting Variations

New research from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) helps us understand the breakdown of those sentiments. The research reveals over one-third (35%) of U.S. workers believe their job will become increasingly reliant on automation in the near future.

The data was collected in March and April 2023 in response to the rising popularity and increased sophistication of artificial intelligence (AI) tools, as well as the development of new state and federal regulations. 

Key findings include: 

  • Nearly 10% of U.S. workers experienced an impact from workplace automation.
  • Nearly one-quarter (23%) of U.S. workers are concerned their job will be replaced by workplace automation in the next 5 years.
  • Female workers are less concerned their jobs will be replaced by workplace automation and less convinced their jobs will become more reliant on it than their male counterparts.
  • Most employees (57%) are confident their organization could/can train them to properly use workplace automation effectively.
  • Half of U.S. workers (50%) believe the automation of specific job tasks or duties would give them more time to focus on other areas of their work.

The positive news for employers is that over twice as many workers believe automation will make their jobs easier (50%) than those who fear their job will be replaced by automation (23%). But that’s still a significant proportion of the labor force that has genuine anxiety over the impact of automation on their livelihoods.

Employers looking to increase the prevalence of automation in their operations should therefore consider embracing meaningful transparency and communication with staff.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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