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More Professionals Turn toward Robots to Seek Mental Health, Career Support: Study


Organizations must adapt to changing economic conditions and recognize the untapped potential of sophisticated technology

The pandemic proved to be more than a devastating health crisis and almost shattered global businesses and economies. But one positive change that certainly needs a mention is that C-suite has started paying close attention to the mental health and well-being of their employees, an issue that was always kept on the backburner. While people began to rely more on technology in every possible sphere of life and work, it is not surprising that a large section of professionals are seeking to regain control of their lives and careers with the support of technology, primarily, robots and AI tools.

At least that’s what a new study by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence, an HR research and advisory firm claims. According to the study, a whopping 92% of Indians believe robots can support their career better than humans.

The study of more than 14,600 employees, managers, HR leaders, and C-level executives across 13 countries found that people all around the world have felt stuck – lonely and disconnected – in their personal and professional lives but are ready to regain control of their futures. And it is then that people are turning to robots to support their career development.

A lonely disconnected workforce

The study observes that the prolonged lockdown and continued uncertainty due to the pandemic has left many professionals in emotional turmoil, feeling like their lives and careers are out of control. Financial struggle, work stress, lack of motivation, personal and professional reasons, among others have negatively impacted them over the past year, with people in India and the UAE struggling the most, but also being the most open to technology support.

Despite struggles over the last year, people around the world are eager to make changes in their professional lives, 93 percent of people used the past year to reflect on their lives and 88 percent said the meaning of success has changed for them since the pandemic, with work-life balance (42 percent); mental health (37 percent); and workplace flexibility (33 percent) now top priorities.

Enter robots for help

To retain and grow top talent amidst changing workplace dynamics, employers need to pay attention to employee needs more than ever before and leverage technology to provide better support.

Globally and in India almost nine out of 10 people they are ready to make life changes based on robot recommendations. For example, 82% believe robots can support their careers better than a human by giving unbiased recommendations, quickly answering questions about their career or finding new jobs that fit their current skills.

S.V. Nathan, National President, NHRDN, believes that the pandemic had a major impact on many aspects of our lives, both personal and professional where we seem to be losing control of it all. “It is in these times, that we all need anchors and mentors. In the absence of anchors who we can turn to – we have turned to technology to help them solve our problems.”

In such a scenario, Nathan commented even though robots and AI are seen as a way of assisting our decision making, the need for human interface is always paramount.

Humans have a key role too

People believe humans still have a critical role to play in career development and believe humans are better at providing support by offering advice based on personal experience, identifying strengths and weaknesses and looking beyond a resume to recommend roles that fit personalities. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that the role of robots in career support is gradually on the rise.

“The past year and a half changed how we work including where we work and, for a lot of people, who we work for. While there have been a lot of challenges for both employees and employers, this has been an opportunity to change the workplace for the better,” Dan Schawbel, managing partner, Workplace Intelligence said.

“The results clearly show that investment in skills and career developmentis now a key differentiator for employers as it plays a significant role in employees feeling like they have control over their personal and professional lives. Businesses that invest in their employees and help them find opportunities will reap the benefits of a productive, engaged workforce,” he added.

“The pandemic has become an inflection point that has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies across sectors and bids to transform the Indian landscape into a digitally empowered society and a knowledge economy. Whereas remote working and the continual pressure to win the race has exacerbated anxiety and loneliness, putting employees’ mental health at risk” said, Deepa Param Singhal, Vice President, HCM, Oracle Asia Pacific.

“Given the reopening of sectors and offices, it is important for CHROs, corporate executives, and decision makers to adapt to the present circumstances. In addition, to traverse the new world of work, which has lately been turned upside down, AI integration is essential. Organizations must adapt to changing economic conditions and recognize the untapped potential of sophisticated technology. Not only will this increase employee productivity, but it will also give a boost to the country’s economic condition,” she added.

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