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AI-Powered Automation Enhances Job Fulfillment for Nearly 60% of Workers: Report

According to a recent survey conducted by automation software firm UiPath, a substantial majority of workers (approximately 60%) believe that AI-powered automation solutions can mitigate burnout and significantly improve job satisfaction. Moreover, 57% of the respondents expressed a more positive perception of employers that integrate business automation to support their employees and streamline operations than of employers that do not, reflecting their favorable attitude towards such practices.

As workloads intensify, 28% of individuals report taking on extra responsibilities due to layoffs or hiring freezes. A full 29% of workers worldwide experience burnout. This is fueling an escalating dependence on AI tools for alleviation.

The automation generation

These factors are contributing to the emergence of what has been called the “automation generation” — professionals who proactively adopt automation and AI to enhance collaboration, foster creativity and boost productivity, regardless of age or demographic.

These individuals actively seek technologies that enhance their professional and personal lives, as they strive to avoid feeling dehumanized.

One of the survey’s primary revelations is that 31% of respondents actively employ business automation solutions in their workplaces.

The automation generation subgroup believes they have the resources and support they need (87%) to carry out their responsibilities effectively. Furthermore, 83% of these workers believe that business automation solutions can effectively mitigate burnout and enhance job satisfaction.

“With more than half of respondents stating they believe automation can address burnout and improve job fulfillment, it is clear that AI-powered business automation technology is already positively impacting business and technical workers and helping them to reduce time spent on repetitive tasks and focus on more critical and gratifying work,” Brigette McInnis-Day, chief people officer at UiPath. 

She emphasized that this assertion is reinforced by the fact that among the respondents who are already using business automation solutions, 80% believe that these solutions enable them to perform their jobs more effectively, and 79% hold a more positive perception of employers that implement business automation than of those that don’t.

The survey, administered in March 2023, was conducted in partnership with Researchscape. It garnered online responses from 6,460 executives worldwide. Topline results were weighted to ensure representation of each country’s GDP, with the following distribution: U.S. (55%), Japan (10%), Germany (9%), India (8%), United Kingdom (7%), France (6%), Australia (4%) and Singapore (2%).

Tackling office workloads through AI 

The survey reveals that workers worldwide are increasingly embracing automation and AI-powered tools to tackle mundane tasks.

Specifically, respondents expressed their desire for automation to assist in tasks such as data analysis (52%), data input/creation (50%), IT/technical issue resolution (49%) and report generation (48%).

When questioned about the sources of their burnout and work fatigue, respondents highlighted working beyond scheduled hours (40%), pressure from managers and leadership (32%), and excessive time dedicated to tactical tasks (27%) as the primary causes.

“AI-powered automation emerges as a solution to alleviate these leading causes of burnout, enabling workers to swiftly and effortlessly locate and analyze data while streamlining repetitive and time-consuming tasks,” McInnis-Day.

Workers of the automation generation emphasize flexibility, career advancement and focused work time. In terms of where automation tools impact their jobs, respondents expressed the desire for enhanced flexibility in their work environments (34%), allocated time for acquiring new skills (32%) and dedicated hours for critical tasks (27%).

“Unlike the previous defining generational categories, the automation generation encompasses all ages and demographics,” explained McInnis-Day. “It is the professionals embracing AI to be more collaborative, creative and productive as well as using these technologies to deliver more satisfying, positive workplace experiences, enrich their personal lives and prevent them from overall feeling like robots themselves. They are looking for a renewed and revived sense of purpose in their work — and automation is helping them realize that.”

Not surprisingly, the survey revealed that younger employees are more receptive to these new technologies. Majorities of Generation Z (69%), Millennials (63%) and Generation X (51%) respondents firmly believe that automation has the potential to enhance their job performance.

“Among the workers surveyed, 31% of respondents said they were already utilizing business automation solutions (of this group, 39% were Millennials and 42% were Gen Z). Additionally, of the 31% already using business automation solutions, 87% feel they have the resources and support needed to do their job effectively,” added McInnis-Day. “The findings prove that employees using AI-powered automation believe in its ability to advance their careers and support work-life balance.”

The growing demand for automation and AI-powered tools

According to McInnis-Day, persistent economic uncertainty and the need for organizations to accomplish more with fewer resources will drive increasing demand for automation and AI-powered tools. She said that companies that adopt an open and adaptable approach to deploying AI are best positioned to attract skilled employees who can contribute to their success.

“The top resource the automation generation identified as the key aspect that would help them do their jobs better and/or advance was technical tools and software,” she said. “Fifty-eight percent of respondents indicated they were looking for these technology tools to help them respond to today’s economic and labor market pressures.”

She advises business leaders to equip their workers with AI-powered automation tools to thrive in an automation-first world and alleviate resource constraints.

“These survey results provide compelling evidence that incorporating AI-powered automation across the organization is not only a wise investment but also aligns with employees’ preferences,” she said. “With workloads on the rise and employees seeking careers that offer a healthy work-life balance, the integration of AI-powered automation becomes crucial in delivering more fulfilling and positive workplace experiences.”

Slack Report: Lack of AI and Automation Adoption Hinders Employee Productivity

A new report from Slack has revealed that many companies are not leveraging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to their fullest extent, which could unlock new levels of employee productivity. The Slack State of Work report surveyed more than 18,000 desk workers worldwide and found that only 23% of companies invest in technology to improve productivity, and a mere 27% use AI tools to achieve this goal.

The study also showed that many organizations still operate with outdated work practices, tools, and approaches that prevent employees from reaching their full potential. This is a clear indication that companies need to adopt new technologies and take a more holistic approach towards productivity.

According to Christina Janzer, SVP at Slack research and analytics, many companies are stuck in old ways of thinking about productivity. “Part of the confusion comes from a growing schism between leaders and teams over how to properly define and measure productivity in today’s environment,” she told VentureBeat. “Organizations need to take a more holistic approach, and that includes enabling employees to experiment with tools and technology to drive better results.”

The report aims to highlight three trends that are shaping the modern workplace and driving employee productivity: the underutilization of new technologies such as AI and automation, the transformation of office work and design in the era of hybrid work, and the direct influence of employee engagement and talent development on productivity.

Slack found that companies that have embraced AI are 90% more likely to report increased productivity levels than those that have not. In addition, the majority of employees surveyed (77%) believe that automating routine tasks, such as obtaining expense report approvals, would enhance their productivity.

Despite this potential, 60% of employees report that their company has not implemented AI tools to support their productivity, and 43% say that their team has not adopted any means of automation to make their work processes more efficient or easier.

“We’re just beginning to tap into the potential of AI at work,” said Janzer. “However, our survey shows a majority of employees are interested in testing it out. Fifty-three percent of workers said using generative AI would improve their productivity, even though most aren’t currently using it at work.”

The worldwide survey was conducted as part of a collaborative effort between experience management platform Qualtrics and Salesforce’s Slack from February 24 to March 21, 2023. The sample size comprised 18,149 individuals from various industries including both desk workers and executives from regions including the U.S. (3,115), Australia (2,034), France (2,039), Germany (2,032), the UK (2,027), India (2,039), Singapore (1,341), Japan (1,658) and South Korea (1,864).

The essence of AI and automation for streamlining productivity

Janzer highlighted that most respondents (77%) acknowledge the benefits of automating repetitive tasks in enhancing productivity. However, the study shows that only 45% of teams have implemented automation to simplify or optimize their work processes.

“That’s a mismatch, and it could cost companies that don’t move quickly to catch up,” she said.

The survey findings indicate that several companies still depend on antiquated methods to enhance productivity and monitor employee performance. Employees spend approximately 32% of their time on tasks that do not align with company objectives.  

“Companies like Stack Overflow look at a blend of inputs and outputs to measure their progress,” said Janzer. “Because, regardless of how much performative work you eliminate, most of us can think of some repetitive work that we do that isn’t valuable but has to be done in our jobs. That’s where AI and automation become extremely valuable.”

Missed productivity gains

Janzer explained that numerous organizations neglect the potential of utilizing AI and automation to optimize and simplify tedious tasks, leading to missed productivity gains. This is significant, as desk workers who have implemented automation report saving up to one month of work per year.

“Companies like LG AI Research in Seoul are using generative AI to improve knowledge workers’ efficiency by automating repetitive tasks, providing insights and recommendations for decision-making, and enabling better collaboration so that their employees can focus on tasks that require human intelligence and creativity,” Janzer added. “We’re learning more about the potential benefits of these tools every day. So, companies who may not have jumped on board yet will want to catch up fast to keep up.”

Slack cited the success of music platform Spotify’s advertising team, which utilized automated workflows to bolster collaboration across account teams. This initiative resulted in a 40% increase in productivity by mitigating the need for frequent meetings and reducing email traffic.

Janzer emphasized that it is crucial to prioritize trust and safety when utilizing AI or any other work tool as we continue to uncover the benefits of these technologies. To support the responsible use of AI among customers Salesforce has developed a strong focus on building tools that prioritize accuracy, safety, honesty, empowerment and sustainability. 

Moreover, Janzer said that Salesforce has established an office of ethical and humane use to address inquiries and apprehensions about the use of technologies, AI included. 

Effective ways to enhance workplace collaboration 

The study shows that one-third of executives track metrics like work hours and email communication, which only 15% of employees perceive as helpful in improving productivity. 

“There’s much more to productivity than inputs alone,” said Janzer. “It’s key to build a culture that measures performance based on results instead of solely tracking inputs like hours worked or emails sent.”

The report also emphasizes the significance of enabling effective hybrid work by providing employees with innovative means to collaborate and communicate. According to the survey, employees require a flexible work schedule (52%), a distinct workspace with more meeting rooms and quiet areas (32%) and superior technology to collaborate from any location (80%) to boost productivity.

However, only 21% of executives are modifying the physical office to enhance productivity, and merely 19% encourage asynchronous work, which assists in reducing meeting times.

The post-pandemic office role

The role of the office has shifted in the post-pandemic world, said Janzer. In the past, the office was the primary location for all work, but now, employees primarily want to use the space to collaborate. 

“The crucial factor is to create workplace policies with purposeful intent,” she added. “That includes defining core collaboration hours, a block of time when teammates are expected to be available for meetings and real-time responses, as well as time when people have more flexibility to work in a way that’s best for them — whether that’s stepping away from their computer to whiteboard, or doing heads-down focus work.”

Janzer mentioned that integrating apps directly into Slack can help teams reduce context switching and complete all their work in a single tool, regardless of their location. Additionally, Slack’s upcoming generative AI feature SlackGPT will allow employees to summarize conversations and huddles, making catching up on unread messages received during working hours easier, especially for distributed teams.

The importance of mental well-being for productivity

Another intriguing finding from the survey was that job satisfaction, engagement and mental wellness are top factors that contribute to productivity. 

As a result, Salesforce recommends that leaders should focus on both productivity and wellness to achieve optimal results and believes that incorporating AI and automation tools can be a critical component in attaining this goal.

“Transparent, two-way conversations between leaders and employees help companies understand how people feel about their work and workload and whether they have the proper environment to thrive, said Janzer. “Setting employees up for success includes creating clarity around expectations, setting up a time for focus work, and adopting the right tools and technology. So, do not overlook the importance of motivating teams to create a healthy and productive environment.”