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Workplace automation impacting employees’ mental health

A third think automation increases the pressure to be ‘always on’

More than half (56%) of employees feel the prospect of greater workplace automation affects their mental health in some way, a survey shows.

Of these, a third said it creates increased pressure to be “always on” (34%), a similar proportion (32%) are concerned their job will fundamentally change and 32% are anxious or worried about losing their job.

Almost one in five (17%) employees believe automation makes workers less likely to take time off sick for fear of appearing replaceable.

Overall, employees are cautious (29%) and uncertain (21%) about the prospect of workplace automation, according to the research from Canada Life Group Insurance. 

Two in five employees anticipate needing to learn new skills, which rises to over half (52%) of workers over 60.

Nearly two in five employees expect that people will be replaced because of automation, while more than a quarter anticipate the trend will leave staff feeling less in control of their working lives.

If automation becomes more widespread, two in five workers (37%) said an employee assistance programme would show them that their employer cares about their health and wellbeing. This is followed by income protection (31%), private healthcare (28%) and wellbeing perks (28%).

Paul Avis, marketing director at Canada Life Group Insurance, said automation provides positive opportunities to improve productivity and the quality of people’s working lives, but for this to be successful employers must support their workforce particularly on matters of health and wellbeing. 

“Employers should communicate clearly with their staff and tackle any fears head-on to ensure increased automation isn’t associated with constantly working and being ‘always on’,” he added.