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71% of UK turning to robots for career support because employers aren’t listening

Man going in for handshake offering you the job

People are turning to robots to support their career development after the COVID-19 pandemic left them feeling lonely and disconnected from their own lives, according to a new study by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence, an HR research and advisory firm.

The study of more than 14,600 employees, managers, HR leaders, and C-level executives across 13 countries found that people all around the world have felt stuck in their personal and professional lives but are ready to regain control of their futures.

In the UK specifically, while people are still looking to technology to support their careers, they are a little more skeptical with 71% of people believing robots can help them better than humans. Similarly, 77% of people want technology to define their future, as opposed to 85% of people globally, and only 65% (75% globally) of Brits would make changes to their career based on recommendations by a robot.

“In the last eighteen months, technology has helped us stay connected to loved ones, friends and colleagues,” said Richard Petley, senior vice president, Oracle UK.  “It’s no surprise that people are now turning to it to help enhance their careers, having seen the benefits of it in their personal lives. Like everyone across the world, British people are turning to technology to help them revaluate what they want both personally and professionally, and to help break the malaise of feeling ‘stuck’ – albeit with a dose of British skepticism.”

More than a year in lockdown and the continued uncertainty due to the pandemic has left many workers in emotional turmoil, feeling like their lives and careers are out of control.

  • 80 percent of people globally (80% UK) have been negatively impacted by the last year, with many struggling financially (29% globally; 24% UK); suffering from declining mental health (28% globally; 32% UK); lacking career motivation (25% globally; 21% UK); and feeling disconnected from their own lives (23% globally; 24% UK).
  • Globally, 62 percent found 2021 to be the most stressful year at work ever. More than half (52% globally; 53% UK) of people struggled with mental health at work more in 2021 than in 2020.
  • The amount of people who feel little to no control over their personal and professional lives doubled since the start of the pandemic. People noted they have lost control over their futures (43% globally; 43% UK); personal lives (46% globally; 48% UK); careers (41% globally; 43% UK); and relationships (39% globally; 41% UK).
  • 76 percent of people globally (73% UK) feel stuck in their personal lives, feeling anxiety about their future (31% globally; 33% UK); trapped in the same routine (27% globally; 30% UK); and more loneliness than ever before (26% globally; 28% UK).

To retain and grow top talent amidst changing workplace dynamics, employers need to pay attention to employee needs more than ever before and leverage technology to provide better support.

  • 85 percent of people globally (77% UK) want technology to help define their future by identifying skills they need to develop (36% globally; 33% UK); recommending ways to learn new skills (36% globally; 28% UK); and providing next steps to progress towards career goals (32% globally; 28% UK).
  • 75 percent of people globally would make life changes based on robot recommendations, compared with 65% of people in the UK.
  • 82 percent globally (71% UK) believe robots can support their careers better than a human by giving unbiased recommendations (37% globally; 30% UK); quickly answering questions about their career (33% globally; 27% UK); or finding new jobs that fit their current skills (32% globally; 28% UK).
  • People believe humans still have a critical role to play in career development and believe humans are better at providing support by offering advice based on personal experience (46% globally; 44% UK); identifying strengths and weaknesses (44% globally; 48% UK); and looking beyond a resume to recommend roles that fit personalities (41% globally; 43% UK).
  • 87 percent of people globally (78% UK) believe their company should be doing more to listen to their needs and 55 percent globally (43% UK) are more likely to stay with a company that uses advanced technologies like AI to support career growth.

“The past year and a half changed how we work including where we work and, for a lot of people, who we work for. While there have been a lot of challenges for both employees and employers, this has been an opportunity to change the workplace for the better,” said Dan Schawbel, managing partner, Workplace Intelligence. “The results clearly show that investment in skills and career development is now a key differentiator for employers as it plays a significant role in employees feeling like they have control over their personal and professional lives. Businesses that invest in their employees and help them find opportunities will reap the benefits of a productive, engaged workforce.”

“The last year set a new course for the future of work. Surprisingly, amongst the stress, anxiety, and loneliness of the global pandemic, employees found their voice, became more empowered, and are now speaking up for what they want,” said Yvette Cameron, senior vice president, Oracle Cloud HCM. “The evolving nature of the workplace shifted the way people think about success and reset people’s expectations for how organizations can best support them. To attract and retain talent, businesses need to place a higher priority on helping employees identify and develop new skills and provide personalized career journeys so they can feel in control of their careers again.”