Do Employees Fear Automation in the Workplace?

  Taylor Pettis    April 7th, 2020  


Researchers have found that 25% of jobs in the US are at high risk of automation, as 70% of the tasks involved can be carried out by machines.

Stats like these beg the question, are workers afraid of automation in the workplace?

With so many jobs at risk of automation, it is understandable that employees would be concerned about their livelihood and wage security. However, at the same time, automation holds many benefits, not just for employers, but for workers as well.

If your organization is in the process of implementing automated processes and tasks, it is important that employees come on board with the process. Fearful and disengaged employees are not likely to be able to contribute to the inspired adoption of technologies—something which is essential for optimum implementation of company-wide solutions.

Fortunately, with the correct approach, companies can work with employees to ease fears around job losses through automation.

Do Employees Fear Automation in the Workplace? Yes and No

The predictions around automation would indicate that a large majority of workers would be worried. However, this is not the case.

While there is unease within workforces around job loss, findings are indicating that a large percentage of workers aren’t all that concerned. Survey results showed that 60% of workers felt that fear of robots taking over jobs is overhyped.

However, there are also those who do fear for their jobs, with further research uncovering that 37% of workers are scared that automation will render them useless.

Overall, considering that forecasts are predicting 800 million global job losses thanks to automation—it’s safe to say that many people’s current roles could be at stake, and workers would be naive to think otherwise.

At the same time, automation is by no means a negative for workforces. It is, however, an area of uncertainty.

As you can see, workers are demonstrating diverse opinions when it comes to automation, with some disregarding it completely, and others letting fear of robots stealing jobs keep them up at night.

Why Employees Fear Automation

If there is fear among your employees around what automation will do to their jobs, it is your job to communicate with them so that they can feel secure and prepared in the face of automation adoption.

Before you do that, however, it is also important to understand the factors behind why workers fear automation.

Firstly, the staggering job loss predictions are enough to make anyone nervous about their livelihood. Second, jobs at risk of automation tend largely to be manual or repetitive, and consequently lower paid.

Lower paid employees are closer to the bread line than professionals, making potential job loss a much scarier prospect for them. What’s more, employees with less education may also have fewer opportunities to pivot into an alternative career/role than someone with a master’s degree in business, for example.

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The Benefits of Automation for Employees

Although automation might be threatening certain jobs, it also brings a range of benefits to employees.

In many situations, automated solutions are designed to work alongside employees and make their jobs easier. For example, in the case of automated customer communications, customer relations staff will still be needed. However, the automation process will shoulder some of their burdens and ensure consistent customer response.

Therefore, the value of an automated customer journey is double-sided. It helps the company streamline its communications while also alleviating stress for employees and reducing repetitive tasks.
Research shows that repetitive tasks can cause anxiety and depression, and reports state that 90% of employees are saddled with repetitive and boring tasks—many of which can be automated.

It stands to reason that automation in the workplace can significantly improve employee happiness and increase job satisfaction.

Automation can free up employees to focus on creative work, problem-solving, and technical roles, which increase engagement and lead to better career opportunities.

As automation takes over “busy work,” employee job roles will shift and evolve, elevating those who want to upskill.

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How to Illustrate the
Advantages of Automation to Employees
and Put Their Minds at Rest

If you are in the process of implementing automation within your workplace or business, it is important that all employees are on board with the objective.

Employees who are afraid of automation in the workplace may present stumbling blocks to adoption. On the other hand, engaged employees who are excited to leverage the new automation technology to its full potential will assist in making the adoption process a success.

Here are a few key points you can communicate to get your teams excited and invested in automation in the workplace.

Emphasize That Automation Is a Tool That Will Work Alongside (Not Instead Of) Them

In most cases, automation technology is something that assists employees and works alongside them to make their jobs easier and save them time.

If automation within your business or workplace is not going to displace any existing employees, stress this to them.

Point out Examples of Self Automation

Many employees and workers across the world are taking advantage of applications such as Google Assitant, Clara, Geekspot, IFTTT, and a host of others, to self automate.

Ask employees if they are self automating any of their tasks. If so, praise them for their ingenuity and ask them how much this has improved their workflow.

Detail How Automation Will Make Everyday Employee Tasks Easier

Get specific with workers and break down what tasks will be made easier by the automation solutions you are implementing, and how this will happen.

For example, if you are implementing document automation, illustrate how this will improve document workflows for your teams.

Are You Ready to Start Automating?

Once you have gotten your teams primed to embrace automation in the workplace, you’re ready to start leveraging its benefits.

Automation can look very different across individual industries—but it’s safe to say that almost all organizations can benefit from automating things like customer experience, customer communications management, and document workflows.

To get started, try our free tier service, or contact us if you have any questions.


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