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Changing behaviours and digital natives are transforming the future workplace, attitudes towards automation, and what employees expect of their employers. That’s according to results from a new large-scale study of more than 34,000 consumers across 18 countries from Verint Systems

The report – Engagement in the Always-on Era: How Humans and Technology Work Hand-in-Hand to Meet Rising Expectations – points to an increase in customer demand for ‘always-on’ service. It’s not only the expectations from consumers that are changing; the workforce also is shifting its attitude towards automation and artificial intelligence, and welcomes technology to help them in the workplace. The report finds that there is a correlation between the provision of technology with happiness, fulfilment and reduced stress at work.

Attitudes are shifting in support of automation in the workplace

Opinions on automation in the workplace have been divided for years. While previous studies showed reticence toward automation, Verint’s study shows that in 2019, people are becoming more accepting of automation and AI at work. It finds that 71% of people are in favour of using technology to replace manual and laborious tasks, and 69% believe that technology will enhance not replace their jobs. Almost two thirds (64%) believe automation technology will help to reduce their workload and stress.

The study found a correlation between the provision of technology and happiness in the workplace, as well as reduced stress. More than three quarters (78%) are happy in their current workplace, but only 29% report to have low levels of stress. However, 72% of respondents who have low levels of stress at work said they had access to all the tools and technology they need.

A hybrid workforce is key to meeting customer service expectations

Findings from the report also point to an increase in consumer expectations for ‘always-on’ service and the need for organisations to rethink how they will meet these. Consumers are becoming more demanding of how they engage with organizations – 60% of consumers expect to be able to engage on any channel and at any time. In response, organisations must turn to automation to cope with this increased demand. However, the research finds that the key to meeting customer expectations is to achieve the right balance between human engagement channels and automated ones, such as chatbots or web-self-service. Half of consumers across the globe said they would engage less with brands that fully replace human engagement channels with digital alternatives.

“Organisations need to deploy technology that makes it easier for consumers to engage with them, but also to ease the burden on their workforce,” said Ryan Hollenbeck, senior vice president, global marketing and executive sponsor of the Verint Customer Experience Programme.

“The message from more than 34,000 people across the globe is clear – the fear around technology at work is subsiding. There is an increased understanding that automation can free up people to do more interesting and fulfilling work. Digital innovations such as AI, chatbots, and robots are vital for managing the increased levels of customer interactions and low-effort tasks, yet they cannot replace all human engagement. The research shows this is still very much a key element of customer engagement, and that consumers across all generations crave the human touch for certain interactions.

“Organisations must get this balance right to serve their customers and their employees optimally. They can only do this by engaging with their workforce in genuine dialogue about the use of technology and ensuring their employees feel valued for their contributions.”

Leading expert on generational theory and employability, Dr Paul Redmond commented: “The importance of a consultative approach is underlined when you consider that for the first time in industrial history there are five generations together in the workplace. There is a delicate balance at play to ensure the entire workforce is reaping the benefits of technology. For example, the research shows that the majority (52%) of those under 35 feel that automation technology helps them work more effectively, compared to 35% of those over 35. Engagement is the only way to get the best out of the entire workforce.”

Key Findings Again:

  • Rise of the hybrid workforce – 71% of people are in favour of using technology to replace manual and laborious tasks
  • Happy yet stressed is the new norm – 78% of people globally are happy at their current place of work, but only 29% say they have low stress levels
  • Automation reduces workload – 72% of people who have low stress levels at work say they have access to the technology to work productively, while almost two thirds (64%) believe that automation helps reduce workload and stress.

 

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