How AI is changing the relationship between people and technology at work?

People have more trust in robots than their managers, according to the second annual AI at Work study conducted by Oracle and Future Workplace, a research firm preparing leaders for disruptions in recruiting, development and employee engagement. The study of 8,370 employees, managers and HR leaders across 10 countries, found that AI has changed the relationship between people and technology at work and is reshaping the role HR teams and managers need to play in attracting, retaining and developing talent.

Shaakun Khanna, Head of HCM Applications, Asia Pacific, Oracle, said, “With technology adding great value to all organizational functions, people are excited about increasingly leveraging technologies like AI in HR. The study shows that the equation between people and technology is being re-written and the organizations need to work closely with their HR teams to meet the changing expectations of people. The study also highlights another aspect that with technology taking care of transactional activities, leaders and managers need to bring more strategic value to management and use more of their soft skills with people. If managers want to survive the challenge of AI, they must embrace EI.”

Dan Schawbel, Research Director at Future Workplace, said, “Over the past two years we’ve found that workers have become more optimistic as they’ve adopted AI in the workplace and HR is leading the way. The 2019 study shows that AI is redefining not only the relationship between worker and manager, but also the role of a manager in an AI-driven workplace. Based on the findings, managers will remain relevant in the future if they focus on being human and using their soft skills, while leaving the technical skills and routine tasks to robots.”

AI is Changing the Relationship Between People and Technology at Work

Contrary to common fears around how AI will impact jobs, employees, managers and HR leaders across the globe are reporting increased adoption of AI at work and many are welcoming AI with love and optimism.

  • AI is becoming more prominent with 50 percent of workers currently using some form of AI at work compared to only 32 percent last year. Workers in China (77 percent) and India (78 percent) have adopted AI over 2X more than those in France (32 percent) and Japan (29 percent).
  • The majority (65 percent) of workers are optimistic, excited and grateful about having robot co-workers and nearly a quarter report having a loving and gratifying relationship with AI at work.
  • Workers in India (60 percent) and China (56 percent) are the most excited about AI, followed by the UAE (44 percent), Singapore (41 percent), Brazil (32 percent), Australia/New Zealand (26 percent), Japan (25 percent), U.S. (22 percent), UK (20 percent) and France (8 percent).
  • Men have a more positive view of AI at work than women with 32 percent of men optimistic vs. 23 percent of women.

Emily He, SVP, Human Capital Management Cloud Business Group, Oracle, said, “The latest advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence are rapidly reaching mainstream, resulting in a massive shift in the way people across the world interact with technology and their teams. As this study shows, the relationship between humans and machines is being redefined at work, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to successfully managing this change. Instead, organizations need to partner with their HR organization to personalize the approach to implementing AI at work in order to meet the changing expectations of their teams around the world.”

Workers Trust Robots More Than Their Managers

The increasing adoption of AI at work is having a significant impact on the way employees interact with their managers. As a result, the traditional role of HR teams and the manager is shifting.

  • 64 percent of people would trust a robot more than their manager and half have turned to a robot instead of their manager for advice.
  • Workers in India (89 percent) and China (88 percent) are more trusting of robots over their managers, followed by Singapore (83 percent), Brazil (78%), Japan (76 percent), UAE (74 percent), Australia/New Zealand (58 percent), U.S. (57 percent), UK (54 percent) and France (56 percent).
  • More men (56 percent) than women (44 percent) have turned to AI over their managers.
  • 82% of people think robots can do things better than their managers.
  • When asked what robots can do better than their managers, survey respondents said robots are better at providing unbiased information (26 percent), maintaining work schedules (34 percent), problem-solving (29 percent) and managing a budget (26 percent).
  • When asked what managers can do better than robots, workers said the top three tasks were understanding their feelings (45 percent), coaching them (33 percent) and creating a work culture (29 percent).

AI is Here to Stay: Organizations Need to Simplify and Secure AI to Stay Competitive

The impact of AI at work is only just beginning and in order to take advantage of the latest advancements in AI, organizations need to focus on simplifying and securing AI at work or risk being left behind.

  • 76 percent of workers (and 81 percent of HR leaders) find it challenging to keep up with the pace of technological changes in the workplace.
  • Workers want a simplified experience with AI at work, asking for a better user interface (34 percent), best practice training (30 percent) and an experience that is personalized to their behavior (30 percent).
  • Security (31 percent) and privacy (30 percent) are the main concerns preventing workers from using AI at work.
  • Digital natives Gen Z (43 percent) and Millennials (45 percent) are more concerned about privacy and security at work than Gen X (29 percent) and Baby Boomers (23 percent).

Jeanne Meister Founding Partner, Future Workplace, said, “Our 2019 results reveal that forward looking companies are already capitalizing on the power of AI. As workers and managers leverage the power of artificial intelligence in the workplace, they are moving from fear to enthusiasm as they see the possibility of being freed of many of their routine tasks and having more time to solve critical business problems for the enterprise.”

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