Employers seem to have a collective opinion that their workers are scared automation and other innovations will take away their jobs. That’s not entirely true. More than half see digitization as an opportunity and expect automation, robotics, and AI to positively affect them.
Take the construction industry, for example. According to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), 80% of construction firms report difficulty finding skilled workers for hourly craft positions.
Enter the robots. Suddenly, as the AP reports, “autonomous machines are changing the nature of construction work in an industry that’s struggling to find enough skilled workers while facing a backlog of building projects.” A robot named SAM (short for Semi-Automated Mason) is an example. SAM “can lay about 3,000 bricks in an eight-hour shift—several times more than a mason working by hand.” But it’s not replacing bricklayers’ jobs, it’s enhancing them: lessoning the load on workers and increasing their productivity.
The manufacturing industry has some of the biggest gains to realize with automation. McKinsey & Company reports that manufacturers who integrate technology like collaborative robots and autonomous guided vehicles can increase productivity rates by 300%. Some manufacturing workers willing to embrace the changes are being rewarded.
“Over the last three years, Panasonic’s use of cobots in its Singapore manufacturing operations has also led to higher skills and productivity for its workers,” reports the Singapore Economic Development Board. “As a result, the median salary of its local staff increased by 35%.”
But even if workers are willing to give it a try, employers need to embrace and upskill employees to work with such technology—and only 16% feel prepared to take on the challenge. Doing so not only allows employers to embrace the future of work, but it can increase employee retention, too. About seven out of 10 employees in traditional office environments say workplace automation simplifies work processes, enhances efficiency, boosts productivity, and reduces repetitive tasks. Of workers from the most automated companies, 74% report increased job satisfaction, 72% say they have more time for creativity, and 68% say they now have more opportunities for advancement.
So who says we can’t all get along?
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