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Automation ‘driven by business not employee benefits’

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Workers in the UK believe increasing automation in the workplace is driven by business needs rather than a desire to improve employee wellbeing, research shows.

The survey from Canada Life Group Insurance found 40% believe that cost cutting is their employer’s main motivation for increasing automation, 32% cited improving the quality of business output and 28% cited staff productivity.

Only 27% believe their employer’s primary motivation for increasing automation is to free up more time for more complex and creative tasks, while just 16% believe it is to reduce employee fatigue.

The survey also found 47% of workers said training programmes to upskill existing staff would improve the implementation of automation in the workplace, followed by clear communication and reassurances of job security from their employer (39%) and wellbeing support to address any concerns (28%). 

…of employees expect automation to impact their
employer’s attitudes to employee health and wellbeing

Source: Canada Life Group Insurance

Half (53%) of employees expect automation to impact their employer’s attitudes to employee health and wellbeing. This includes 28% who believe their employer will become less focused on human wellbeing as automation increases. 

Only a quarter believe automation will free up time for their employer to become more aware or able to focus on staff wellbeing, while 18% said their employer does not prioritise employee health and wellbeing and they do not expect this to change as automation increases.

Paul Avis, marketing director at Canada Life Group Insurance, said that as automation becomes more commonplace, employers must ensure they communicate their focus on improving staff conditions, as well as enhancing the business. 

“There is a fear that automation will chip away at employers’ attention to employee health and wellbeing, with more ‘human’ concerns pushed aside as the presence of technology grows. The implementation of automation itself can create anxiety and other mental health concerns, while other health and wellbeing issues remain prevalent,” he warned.