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Radical answer emerges when people asked about robots and their mental health

Written by

Neil Martin

Neil Martin

A new study has thrown up a radical answer when people were asked if robots could support their mental health better than humans, especially in this Covid-19 era. 

The study, published by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence, concluded that 2020 has been the most stressful year in history for the global workforce and people want robots to help.

More than 12,000 employees, managers, HR leaders, and C-level executives across 11 countries found that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased workplace stress, anxiety, and burnout for people all around the world, and they prefer robots instead of other people to help.

Key take-outs are that: 

- 70% of people have had more stress and anxiety at work this year than any other previous year;

- the increased stress and anxiety has negatively impacted the mental health of 78% of the global workforce, causing more stress (38%), a lack of work-life balance (35%), burnout (25%), depression from no socialization (25%), and loneliness (14%);

- new pressures presented by the global pandemic have been layered on top of everyday workplace stressors, including pressure to meet performance standards (42%), handling routine and tedious tasks (41%), and juggling unmanageable workloads (41%).

As for the greater involvement of robots, the study revealed that:

- only 18% of people would prefer humans over robots to support their mental health as they believe robots provide a judgement-free zone (34%), an unbiased outlet to share problems (30%), and quick answers to health-related questions (29%);

- 68% of people would prefer to talk to a robot over their manager about stress and anxiety at work and 80 percent of people are open to having a robot as a therapist or counselor;

- 75% say AI has helped their mental health at work. The top benefits noted were providing the information needed to do their job more effectively (31%), automating tasks and decreasing workload to prevent burnout (27%), and reducing stress by helping to prioritize tasks (27%);

- AI has also helped the majority (51%) of workers shorten their work week and allowed them to take longer vacations (51%). Over half of respondents say AI technology increases employee productivity (63%), improves job satisfaction (54%), and improves overall well-being (52%).

Dan Schawbel, managing partner, Workplace Intelligence, said: “With new remote work expectations and blurred lines between personal and professional lives, the toll of COVID-19 on our mental health is significant – and it's something that workers across every industry and country are dealing with.

“The pandemic has put mental health front and center – it's the biggest workforce issue of our time and will be for the next decade. The results of our study show just how widespread this issue has become, and why now is the time for organizations to start talking about it and exploring new solutions."

Emily He, senior vice president, Oracle Cloud HCM, added: "With the global pandemic, mental health has become not only a broader societal issue, but a top workplace challenge. It has a profound impact on individual performance, team effectiveness and organizational productivity. Now more than ever, it's a conversation that needs to be had and employees are looking to employers to step up and provide solutions.

"There is a lot that can be done to support the mental health of the global workforce and there are so many ways that technology like AI can help. But first, organizations need to add mental health to their agenda. If we can get these conversations started – both at an HR and an executive level – we can begin to make some change. And the time is now."

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2020 has been the most stressful year in history for the global workforce and people want robots to help

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Radical answer emerges when people asked about robots and their mental health image