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Is more automation a driver for employee contentment?

Machines can help support employees, reducing physical strain by carrying out routine tasks while employees do more skilled work.

Lincoln Laboratory has developed algorithms to extract signatures in images, such as specific tattoo designs linked to human trafficking networks, as part of a growing portfolio of technologies to help investigators analyze digital evidence in human trafficking cases. — Photo: Nicole Fandel, MIT News
Lincoln Laboratory has developed algorithms to extract signatures in images, such as specific tattoo designs linked to human trafficking networks, as part of a growing portfolio of technologies to help investigators analyze digital evidence in human trafficking cases. — Photo: Nicole Fandel, MIT News

In many industrial sectors employees are overworked, stressed, and experiencing burnout, possibly more than ever before (depending on the industry). During the pandemic, ways of working have also altered with the rise of remote or hybrid working.

Other changes are also afoot and the desire to shift where people work is being matched by those employees who also want to change how they work.

Some of these trends are apparent in a report from Zapier titled ‘Great Resignation Report’. This review reveals varying insights surrounding the current state of workers leaving jobs and the role of automation. The focus is with the U.S., although some of the findings will tally with those in other countries.

Automation is the creation and application of technologies to produce and deliver goods and services with minimal human intervention.

In terms of the attractive of automating some of the more repetitive and boring tasks at work, the survey finds that 74 percent of workers say they would prefer to stay in their current position than pursue a new opportunity. Interestingly, this proportion increases to 90 percent for those who started using automation within the last 18 months.

Machines can help support employees, reducing physical strain by carrying out routine tasks while employees do more skilled work.

Despite many people wishing to remain within the current roles this does not mean they are always content or that they have ideas for improvement. This is evident in the finding that 72 percent of survey respondents think the way work is currently structured is suboptimal.

In particular, work-life balance is reported as not there for employees who work more than 40 hours a week (72 percent) or have the responsibility of more than one employee (cited by 75 percent). The general trend is that workers are looking for jobs that provide a work life balance outside of the traditional 9 to 5.

It would appear that a means to keep the workforce happy is to press on with automation. For example, only 14 percent of respondents who use automation at work have considered leaving their jobs, compared to a 42 percent of workers who do not regularly use automation as part of their work.

In a statement, Jaz Broughton, owner of Just Jaz and Side Hustle School told Zapier how automation helps: “I only have evenings and weekends and lunchtimes to work with clients, so I should spend the time that way, not doing admin and other tedious tasks.” This concern has been addressed with automation technology.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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