Recently there has been growing attention internationally around potential job automation, and the future of work. This is because of advances in technology, artificial intelligence, robotics, and algorithms etc. However, very little is known about how employees view these technological advancements in relation to their own jobs and careers. Furthermore, we are not sure how employees are preparing for these potential changes. This paper developed a new measure that captured employees’ views on job automation, and whether their organisation or industry could be disrupted by technology in the future. This measure was based on a standard job insecurity measure, but focused specifically on technology.

Findings from the study suggested that those employees who were aware of potential job loss as a result of automation reported lower organisational commitment, career satisfaction, job satisfaction and wellbeing, with increased turnover intentions. Thus, as expected, those who feel threatened by technological disruption feel less secure and less embedded in their job, career and workplace. Age also played an important role, with our results suggesting that older employees are less concerned about automation compared to younger employees. This likely reflects that if widespread automation of jobs did become a reality in the coming decades, older employees may already be considering retirement, or have already exited the workplace. Alas, not so for younger workers.

The paper outlines some qualitative insights from employees, showing a broad spectrum of outlooks regarding the future of their work. These ranged from employees not being worried at all about their job, to some employees knowing of technology in the pipeline that may impact them. Overall, the paper gives useful insights about how employees view the future.

Given that the future of work is largely unknown, this area is highly important to study, as we need to know how employees are planning (or not planning) their careers in relation to automation. We think employees should also consider and research what the future may hold, so they can re-train if the predictions around automation taking jobs are pronounced. In addition, employees should consider what parts of their job could be automated, but also what types of technology they can use to become more efficient in their line of work. Learning how to use new technology could be an important skill moving forward. Policy makers should take note of how employees view the future of work too, because employees have valid insights into the likelihood of job automation based on the contextual environments in which they operate. For example, the commercial viability of a driverless truck performing well on a wide interstate highway in the USA may be differed to a driverless truck performing successfully on New Zealand’s windy narrow state highways, or in highly complex populated areas. Thus, driverless automation may take longer in some places, which employees in that specific area can be aware of. Employees also need to consider where skill shortages are, as many new and exciting jobs will be created because of technology.

Read the full article ‘Smart Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Algorithms (STARA): Employees’ perceptions of our future workplace’ published in Journal of Management & Organization

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