Are Robots Better Employees? Some Managers Think So

The robots are coming! But humans have nothing to fear because soft skills are valuable traits that can’t be replicated, or so we’re told. Some of the results from MindEdge and Skye Learning’s second annual Robomageddon: Future of Work Study don’t offer the security we’re used to hearing about robots in the workforce–nearly 60 percent of the 1,000 U.S. managers who responded to the survey think that robots and artificial intelligence perform higher-quality work than humans. Additionally, almost half (49 percent) said that automation will lead to job losses in the next five years.

Among managers in the tech sector, 74 percent said their companies have adopted robotics or AI over the last few years and roughly one-quarter (26 percent) said “many employees” have lost their jobs because of it. What’s more, 65 percent of respondents said they’d keep their current level of robotics or AI even if cost benefits weren’t realized.

These numbers may not be comforting, but the survey does offer some good news for workers. Twenty six percent of mangers reported that AI and robotics have created jobs within their organizations. Fifty two percent of managers said they feel their jobs are immune to a robot takeover–half of whom said because robots can’t “emulate the human interaction and empathy” that their job requires.

“It’s clear that our workforce is in flux, as more than half of today’s managers see their jobs as being immune to robotic advancement, yet they also report both hard and soft skills lacking at their company,” said Sandra Slager, president of Skye Learning and chief operating officer of MindEdge Learning. “It’s important for managers to harness and cultivate these skills … that separate humans from robots.”

The following six soft skills are what managers believe will continue to separate humans from machines:

  • Creative thinking (36 percent);
  • Communication (30 percent);
  • Complex problem solving (21 percent);
  • Critical thinking (20 percent);
  • Decision making (19 percent); and
  • Teamwork (19 percent).

“As robotics and automation continue to reshape the American workplace, upskilling and continuous learning have never been more valuable,” said Jefferson Flanders, CEO of MindEdge Learning. “While the rise of AI may not render certain roles or skill sets entirely obsolete, we have already seen its impact in the workforce. Business leaders must continue to prioritize training to equip their workforce for tomorrow.”

Danielle Westermann Kinghttp://
Danielle Westermann King is a former staff writer for HRE.