Survey: Here’s how people really feel about robots in the workplace

Global professional services firm Genpact recently released the latest in a three-part series of research reports, showing that among U.S. workers 13% would be “very comfortable” and 27% would be “fairly comfortable” having a position where they worked with or among robots.

Genpact partnered with research firm YouGov to survey more than 5,000 people from the UK, US, and Australia for the research. Of all the respondents, 54% were employees (with part-time hours at a minimum), but the rest were either not working, in school, or retired.

Here are just some of the findings.

Here’s how people think AI could help at work

Some 38% of workers agree or strongly agree that AI threatens the positions they currently have. But the results show that people think this new technology could be a helpful in specific ways.

Among the top advantages of AI, “saves time” was the most popular choice with 42% of those 18-34 and 29% of those 55+ picking this option.

The next most popular choice was that it cuts staff costs, with 38% of those 18-34 and 36% of those 55+ selecting this one.

“Makes the company more competitive in its industry” was among the other benefits, with 21% of those 18-34 picking this and 22% in the 55+ crowd doing so.

Here’s what people think they’ll need to be good at

The top skill workers think they’ll need to do well in their careers is “the ability to adapt to change,” at 50%.

While “critical thinking and problem solving skills” came in second place at 44%, it was ahead of “technical skills (e.g. coding, statistics, applied math)” at 39%, among others.

The report also highlighted the idea that according to the first study of senior executives, just 25% strongly think their employer gives workers “the skills they need to take advantage of AI.”

“Many workers expect to be comfortable working alongside AI within the next three years, but they worry that their employers aren’t going to retrain them to make the most of the technology,” the research says.

Sanjay Srivastava, chief digital officer at Genpact, commented on the survey in a statement.

“Artificial intelligence brings a seismic shift in the future of work – making some roles obsolete and enhancing others, while at the same time, creating new jobs, and even spawning new professions. Our research shows that employees want and need additional skills to embrace these opportunities – and companies must respond. Businesses that will succeed in this new world will be those that ramp up fast to invest in the right AI tools and upskill their workforce,” he said.

Here’s how young people can get ready for AI

With nine-in-ten respondents agreeing that it will be necessary for younger generations to equip themselves with “new skills to compete in a workplace shaped by AI,” the report went into detail about the top ways people think they can do so.

The most popular response was to increase “specialized job training on human-machine interactions,” at 45%. This was followed by “complete more relevant primary/secondary education in subjects that will prepare them for the future workforce” at 43%.