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Facing Job Insecurity and Burnout? Are You Working with Robots?

Working alongside robots could contribute to burnout and fears of losing your job

In this era of artificial intelligence, robots are transforming the way of human’s work. Although the collaboration of humans with robots can generate new jobs and increase productivity, Experts often warn about how robots might replace humans at work and create mass unemployment. And today the rise of robot friendly environment is causing burnout and job insecurity among American workers.

According to new research workers in the U.S. and parts of Asia feels job insecurity with the use of a robot, even in industries where robots are not in use, and those fears may not be justified, stated lead researcher Kai Chi Yam, Ph.D., an associate professor of management at the National University of Singapore. “Some economists theorize that robots are more likely to take over blue-collar jobs speedily than white-collar jobs,” Yam mentioned and continued to say “However, it really does not appear like bots are taking over that many jobs yet, at least not in the United States, so a lot of these fears are rather subjective.” Researchers have conducted experiments and analyzed data from participants in the U.S., Singapore, India, and Taiwan. The study got published online in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Using industrial robots was linked to greater reports of burnout and workplace incivility in an experiment with 118 engineers employed by an Indian auto manufacturing company. An online experiment with 400 participants revealed that self-affirmation exercises, where people are encouraged to think positively about themselves and their unique human characteristics, may help lessen workplace robot fears. Participants mentioned characteristics or values that were important to them, like friends and family, a sense of humor, or athletics.  Yam commented, “Most people are overestimating the capabilities of robots and not recognizing their inner capabilities.”

Fears about job insecurity from robots are ordinary. The researchers analyzed data about the prevalence of robots in 185 U.S. metropolitan areas along with the overall use of famous job recruiting sites in those areas (LinkedIn, Indeed, etc.). Areas with the most prevalent rates of robots also had the highest rates of job recruiting site searches, even though unemployment rates weren’t higher in those areas. The researchers theorized that people in these areas may have felt more job insecurity because of bots, but that there could be other reasons, such as people seeking new careers or feeling dissatisfied with their current jobs.

Another experiment contains 343 parents of students at the National University of Singapore who were randomly divided into three groups. One group look through the article about the use of robots in businesses, the second group studied a general article about robots, and the third group read an unrelated article. After that, the participants were surveyed about their job insecurity concerns, with the first group reporting significantly higher levels of job insecurity than the two other groups. While some people may have legitimate concerns about their job loss to robots, some media coverage may be unnecessarily heightening fears among the general public, Yam commented.