Communication key to allaying employee concerns about automation

Research from Capita Resourcing has found that whilst over half (54%) of UK organisations are already automating business processes once performed by people, employees are concerned about the social impact this will have on the workplace.

The ‘Workplace More Human’ report reveals that the majority of employees (67%) fear that the rise of robotics will make the workplace less sociable and friendly in the future.

>See also: How robots in the workplace will change organisational culture

Jo Matkin, managing director of Capita Resourcing, commented: “It is clear that whilst there are obvious benefits of automation to employers, employees are concerned not just about the impact on jobs, but also their workplace culture. HR, and organisations more broadly, need to strike a balance between capitalising on the benefits whilst also carefully managing employee concerns.”

The biggest concerns around introducing more automation in the workplace were the loss of their job (36%), losing the social relationship with colleagues (27%) and having to re-skill/train to do another job (23%).

Yet, unsurprisingly, employee concerns are not mirrored by businesses, a significant majority (91%) of whom consider automation to be an opportunity rather than a risk.

However, over half (55%) describe the current relationship between workers and automation as ‘a learning curve with some struggles’.

>See also: Automation and AI: a a new frontier of the human-machine partnership

Matkin continued: “It is vital that organisations clearly communicate what their automated business would look like with their employees. Including how it will impact their role, workplace and the possible benefits it presents in terms of, for example, upskilling, further training and freeing up employee time to focus on more creative, less menial activities.”

“But, in order to have these conversations, organisations themselves need a clearer understanding of their automation strategy and its potential impact. Appointing a dedicated chief automation officer (CAO) could be a solution and invaluable addition to driving your organisation’s competitive advantage in an increasingly automated world.”

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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