Lonely and disconnected from their teams and managers, employees all over the world are starting to chart the next phase of their career with help from an unlikely ally – robots.
AI-powered career management tools have cast a new light on today's HR software, particularly how they guide people through the turbulent waters of post-crisis recovery.
No longer is HR technology confined to augmenting menial, day-to-day tasks such as database or document management.
Through machine learning, robotic HR software can support executive decisions – and answer questions such as, which training programs are likely to increase a person's chances of getting promoted, or which jobs might suit their skill set best.
A study of over 14,600 HR leaders, managers and employees in 13 countries offers insights into this robot-driven phenomenon.
People who feel they are stagnating or falling behind in their career or personal life are eager to use technology to bolster their decisions, in a bid to "regain control of their futures," said analysts from Oracle and Workplace Intelligence, which conducted the study.
In fact, 85% of respondents want intelligent tools to "define the future" by helping people:
• Identify skills critical to their success (36%)
• Find new learning methods (36%)
• Take concrete steps to advance their career (32%)
Three in four professionals (75%) are willing to power their careers by heeding recommendations from robots or tools equipped with machine learning.
Trust is a major factor: today's workers (82%) are said to be more likely to listen to career advice from robots than from their own human managers because bots are perceived to be "unbiased" compared with people whose decisions may be tainted by their emotions and pre-conceived notions about their peers.
A word of caution, however: AI ethicists also warn against the tendencies of robotic software to pick up on, and reflect, the very same biases of their developers when they are training with specific data sets.
But what makes robots a powerful tool is their ability to provide answers to career questions quickly (33%) and match people's skills to jobs accurately (32%), according to respondents.
"The past year and a half changed how we work including where we work and, for a lot of people, who we work for," said Dan Schawbel, managing partner at Workplace Intelligence.
The pandemic, however, opened up an opportunity for HR leaders to "change the workplace for the better" and this includes giving workers access to decision support tools to help chart their career progress.
The introduction of robotic software that can provide career guidance is meant to empower those who feel disenchanted and disempowered in the new world of work.
"Investment in skills and career development is now a key differentiator for employers," Schawbel said. "It plays a significant role in employees feeling like they have control over their personal and professional lives."