Automation Not a Concern for Most U.S. Workers

July 18, 2017 — Contrary to reports that say American workers fear losing their jobs to technological advances, only 14% of U.S. employees said they worry that automation will take their job away and 30% said they think automation will make their job better.

And along with their optimism about automation, workers also reported a willingness to retrain or upskill to maintain their current job status. 51% of respondents to Randstad US's 2017 "Randstad Employer Brand Research" said they would be happy to retrain if they were being paid the same or more than their current salary.

"These sentiments should be welcome news for companies as they seek greater adoption of automation to drive productivity and innovation," said Linda Galipeau, CEO of Randstad North America. "As we have known for quite some time, the success of organizations in the future will depend greatly on their ability to strike a balance between valuable human insight and interaction with technology."

She went on to say that it has become necessary for employees and job seekers to continually cultivate, develop and update their skills to work successfully alongside AI and automation.

"In conjunction with retraining and upskilling efforts, workers should focus on growing unique human skills that AI and robots are unable to replicate, such as strategic and abstract thinking, complex communications, creativity and leadership competencies," Galipeau said.

Business leaders agree with workers when it comes to the level of effect automation may have on the workforce. Based on a survey of C-suite and human capital leaders, Randstad Sourceright's latest "Talent Trends" survey found that 6% of U.S. respondents believe increasing automation will have a significant effect on workforce planning and shifting the talent needed.

Meanwhile, U.S. companies are enthusiastic about the potential benefits of automation and AI on their business:

  • 84% of U.S. respondents said they believe AI and robotics will have a positive effect on the workplace in the next three to five years.
  • 48% said automation/machine learning has either transformed or had a positive effect on their business in the past 12 months. 45% said the same of robotics.
  • 74% believe automation/machine learning will have sustained or greater influence on their business. 68% hold the same view about robotics.
  • Perhaps due to these beliefs, 31% of employers said they have increased their use of automation/robotics in their business in the past 12 months.

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