64% of workers trust robots more than their managers

Employee outlooks on AI are changing. Here's why they are more trusting of the technology.

64% of workers trust robots more than their managers

The increased adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) at work is changing the relationship between employees and managers. More than half (64%) of employees said they trust a robot more than their manager, with half turning to a robot instead of a supervisor for advice, an Oracle and Future Workplace report found. 

SEE: Special report: Managing AI and ML in the enterprise (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Oracle and Future Workplace's second annual AI at Work report, released on Tuesday, surveyed 8,370 employees, managers, and human resources (HR) leaders from across 10 countries. AI completely shifted the way employees and tech interact at work, and is also reshaping the roles of HR teams and managers, the report found. 

Employee attitudes about AI

When AI first became popular, many employees feared the technology would render their jobs obsolete. However, once employees realized AI could actually help them conduct work more efficiently, their attitudes changed, the report found. The number of employees using AI at work increased by nearly 20% over the past year, from 32% to 50%. 

The majority (65%) of workers said they are optimistic, excited, and grateful for their robot co-workers. Nearly a quarter of employees reported even having a loving and gratifying relationship with AI at work, according to the report. 

Employees in India (60%) and China (56%) were the most excited about AI, followed by the UAE (44%), Singapore (41%), Brazil (32%), and Australia/New Zealand (26%). Men overall viewed AI more positively than women, with 32% of men reportedly optimistic, compared to 23% of women. 

Robots vs. managers

Workers across the world are also more trusting of robots over their manages, the report found. The majority of employees in India (89%), China (88%), Singapore (83%), Brazil (78%), Japan (76%), and the US (57%) all turn to robots before managers. Employees reported more faith in robots over managers because they felt that technology could better provide unbiased information (26%), maintain work schedules (34%), problem solve (29%), and manage a budget (26%).

When asked what areas managers are stronger in, workers reported understanding feelings (45%), coaching (33%), and creating work culture (29%). While automation is helpful with business processes, it is known to struggle with replicating and interpreting human emotion. With human connection being a vital part of the workplace, this ability is crucial.

"The latest advancements in machine learning and AI are rapidly reaching mainstream, resulting in a massive shift in the way people across the world interact with technology and their team," Emily He, senior vice president of the Human Capital Management Cloud Business Group at Oracle, said in a press release. "Organizations need to partner with their HR organization to personalize the approach to implementing AI at work in order to meet the changing expectations of their teams around the world."

AI isn't leaving

With AI predicted to create $2.9 trillion in business value by 2021, according to Gartner's Leverage augmented intelligence to win with AI report, automation is here to stay. 

And the use cases for AI continue surfacing, with 76% of workers and 81% of HR leaders finding it challenging to keep up with technological changes in the workplace, the report found.

These issues only create a heightened need for AI, but employees are worried about working with these new systems. Workers need a simplified experience with AI, according to the report. Employees cited a better user interface (34%), best practice training (30%), and personalized experiences (30%) as helpful strategies for adapting to AI. 

If companies want to see the full benefits of AI, they must provide employees with these resources and experiences, the report said.

For more, check out AI is key for business success, but lack of skilled staff remains a barrier on TechRepublic.

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