Updated: Jan 28, 2022
By Yasmin Silva Nilsson
January 7, 2022
UPDATED 12:00 PM EST
How both employers and employees can take away benefits from the correct usage of technology around health, wellness, and mental health
For the past couple of years, excruciating statistics have been showing us how extensive work journeys are wrecking the mental and physical health of employees in companies all over the globe, not to mention the burnout impact of COVID-19 for people who worked from home and for those who own small businesses. In the same way, advances in AI development and disseminating technology revolves the discussion of the extent under which computers will be implemented in the workplace. Several specialists, including social scientists, strongly believe that technology will hardly replace the work that humans do.
Willing to investigate the implications of technology and AI in the workplace, two researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology and Georgia State University delved into how productivity was impacted by such measures in tech companies and also in those that use technology extensively. Their first conclusions show that the use of AI paired with human work can lead to a very high productivity, but in general, the rest of the conclusions were not so candid. They found five distinct channels with crossed tech impact: job insecurity, cognitive load, sense of meaning, worker freedom, and external monitoring.
In roles with the highest risk of automation, they found that employee worsening dissatisfaction and poorer health conditions were more prominent: though more freedom sounds appealing, the feeling of loss-of-meaning is also a concept to think about. While some roles might get easier, the job does not necessarily get better. “Maybe automation has made your work easier, but now you're being optimized. Every second you're being monitored, you're being watched, measured. You have no sense of job security, or for that matter, safety during a pandemic. Maybe it's a combination of these things, but those benefits related to lower stress are now getting wiped out.”, the researchers explain.
Similarly, they concluded that workers clearly valued autonomy much more than the expected. If technology at the workplace reduces people’s autonomy, negative outcomes become much more likely to happen. An effective alternative for this effect is an action to be taken by employers and policymakers: make workers know what is going on and involve them in the process so that they don’t feel like they are being simply surveilled and watched by machines. In a nutshell, their final conclusions in the study indicate that integrating AI for worker training and health with increased awareness is a powerful tool in automatization tendencies.
Addressing mental health and well-being in the workplace will continue to grow as a highly effective strategy for several takeaways. Increase in productivity and morale being the main ones, self reported health benefits is the one that shines the most, as studies beyond the one from Georgia Tech and GSU indicate the exact same effects. Such health support can be done with special and optional devices and apps while companies reach out to digital solutions: a two-way benefit circuit will enhance the workplace for both employers and employees.