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Do Employees Trust Robots More than Company Leaders?

Eighty-two percent of people believe that robots can support their career better than humans

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The pandemic has been a stressful time for all of us. It’s no surprise to learn that it has brought up introspection, reassessing what's important, mental health issues and dissatisfaction in employees. Whilst we might have expected that the tables would turn in favor of employers (because people would be desperate to keep their jobs), what has transpired is that people are more willing to leave their jobs. The power has shifted more towards the side of the employee than pre-pandemic. The Great Resignation has been a hot topic throughout 2021, and employees are expecting more than ever before from their employers.

The impact of this is a skills gap and labor shortage. Companies need to put time and effort into retaining their staff. To do so, they need to listen and act on feedback. As well as understanding the key trends that are likely to appeal to the future workforce. Complacency is no longer an option.

Recently, I talked to Dan Schawbel, New York Times bestselling author and managing partner of Workplace Intelligence. He has done a decade of research on future HR trends, and in the latest study conducted with Oracle, they found that 83% of people are ready to make a change and 85% are unhappy with their employer’s support.

Professional development is seemingly more important than ever. Perhaps this is because employees in a remote environment aren’t feeling as secure about their career progress. Unless a company has highly trained managers and a decent support system at work, it can be hard to know where you stand, as an employee, and whether you are doing a good job. And where there is doubt, people often assume the worst.

This perception may or may not be true, but it can deeply impact how people feel, and contribute towards feeling insecure and restless where they are. If an employee feels like they are not getting ahead (progress being a strong motivator), then they are more likely to disengage and look for satisfaction elsewhere.

The other surprising element of the survey conducted was that 82% of people believe that robots can support their career better than humans.

Personally, I wonder whether the deeper reason for this is that people fundamentally distrust their leaders and whether they have the best intentions for their staff at heart. While many companies may make a nod to ‘increasing engagement’, they don’t necessarily know the best ways to do this. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but engagement does require trust. Where I see companies falling short is where they ask for feedback, and then, don’t take action. This can really breach the bond of trust.

It’s a lot easier to trust the unbiased opinion of a robot in matters such as a career. There is no vested interest there or a feeling of being pushed into doing something.

Related Link: Future of Workplaces and the Role of Technology

So, what do employees want?

For employers to acknowledge technology

Our lives are already hugely influenced by technology. From ordering food, to cabs, to shopping, to Alexa and Siri; there is no aspect of our personal lives untouched. People want to see that same ease of access to technology in their professional lives as well.

The advantage of technology is that it can provide us with quick answers, at any time of the day or night. This kind of access is invaluable to help us progress at our own time and pace. Sometimes, we do just want a simple answer.

Some interesting figures from the study are below:

  • 85 percent of people want technology to help define their future, either by identifying skills they need to develop (36 percent), recommending ways to learn new skills (36 percent), or providing next steps to progress towards career goals (32 percent).

  • 82 percent believe robots can support their careers better than a human, either by giving unbiased recommendations (37 percent), quickly answering questions about their career (33 percent), or finding new jobs that fit their current skills (32 percent).

Using technology can be a crucial first step in deciding what action to take next. 

Related Link: How HR and Technology Will Continue to Shake Up the Post-Pandemic Workforce

For employers to give human support when needed

For a holistic solution, employers need to offer human support as well, and help people to develop those skills that they want. That’s why upskilling management levels is also crucial, to help retain staff. They need to be able to connect with, develop, and support their team (or get them access to support that they might need), whether that be skills development, wellbeing related, therapy, or giving advice and recommendations based on their real-life experiences.

Humans can excel at understanding the emotions at play in people and how those feed into how they feel day to day, and the kind of decisions they choose to make. It’s no surprise that emotional intelligence is hailed as one of the Top 10 Skills of the future by the World Economic Forum. In that respect, robots can never compete.

Related Link: 5 Reasons Why Emotional Intelligence Is the Future of Work

For employers to allow career mobility

Along with meeting that desire for professional development and skills development of employees, career mobility within an organization can help to reduce attrition.

As employees’ grow, they may not want to stay in the same position forever. Because the younger generation of workers is more likely to move around to get what they are looking for, a way to retain top talent is to work with them to help them get what they want (which simultaneously creates a more engaged, loyal workforce that wants to stay for the long haul).

Win-win is what it’s about moving forward, rather than win (for the employer) and lose (for the employee).

Sara Caroline Sabin

Written By

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Sara Sabin is an entrepreneur and a transformational coach. Sabin works with leaders who want to make a big impact. She coaches them to shift into their powerful leadership identity, create an empowered team culture and approach business challenges in a unique way to build a thriving business.