Employers and Employees Embrace Automation but Fear Loss of Workplace Humanity

  Employers and Employees Embrace Automation but Fear Loss of Workplace

MetLife’s 16^th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study shows need for more
                   meaningful ‘human’ employee experiences

Business Wire

NEW YORK -- April 16, 2018

Rather than fearing the robot, employers and employees are embracing its
potential with open arms, new data from MetLife reveals. But, they are worried
about losing a sense of human connection within the workplace.

More than half (56 percent) of employers have a positive view of automation
technologies that can help companies do human jobs (e.g., Artificial
Intelligence, analytics, collaboration tools, robotics), compared with 20
percent who are pessimistic, according to MetLife’s 16^th Annual U.S. Employee
Benefit Trends Study (EBTS).

On the employee side, nearly half (49 percent) are optimistic, while only a
quarter (24 percent) are pessimistic. This breaks down along gender and
generational lines: men (54 percent) are more optimistic than women (43
percent), and millennials (63 percent) are more optimistic than Xers (47
percent) or boomers (38 percent).

Still, both employers and their workers have trouble reconciling their
optimism around automation with their desire for human connection. About half
of both groups (46 percent of employees, and 51 percent of employers) worry
the workplace is becoming less human.

“While automation is the next workplace frontier, the biggest fear is that
work is losing its human touch, likely due to unmet needs for personalization
and recognition,” says Todd Katz, executive vice president, Group Benefits at
MetLife. “Employers who are able to balance their—and their employees’—desire
for innovation through automation, while creating great work experiences, will
be tomorrow’s talent leaders.”

Creating Human Experiences

This year’s study shows that employees increasingly see work as an extension
of themselves and that personalized options—for professional development, work
schedules and employee benefits—go a long way toward building loyalty and

  * Work/life blending: Eighty-seven percent of workers whose employer enables
    them to manage life in/outside of work are more loyal and satisfied.
    Nearly three quarters (72 percent) report that having the option to work
    remotely is important to their work/life balance. And offering a flexible
    schedule—something 74 percent of employees say is important when
    considering a new job—builds loyalty. This is more critical now than ever;
    the percentage of workers interested in contract or freelance work, as
    opposed to full-time salaried jobs, has increased—partly because of the
    ‘make your own hours’ lifestyle allowed. More than half (57 percent) of
    employees say they’re interested in freelance work, compared with 51
    percent last year. And it’s not just interest; 24 percent of employees say
    they plan to leave their full-time jobs for freelance work in the next
    five years. Choice and flexibility strengthen loyalty.
  * Financial wellness: Customized benefits attract talent. Like last year,
    employees want their employers to flex when it comes to benefits. The
    ability to customize benefits to meet their needs (70 percent) remains a
    high loyalty driver—and is a greater recruiting advantage than the ability
    to work from home (73 percent vs. 65 percent). Trending upward from 2017,
    six in ten employees—and 69 percent of millennials—now report that they’re
    willing to pay more to have benefits choices that meet their needs, up
    from 52 percent. One of their biggest needs? Financial wellness.
    Eighty-four percent of employees describe financial wellness programs
    (e.g., planning, education, workshops, tools) as offerings they want or
    need. Yet only 18 percent of employers currently offer them. And fewer
    than half (43 percent) of workers believe their employer understands their
    personal financial pressures—down from 54 percent last year—showing a
    missed opportunity for building connection and trust.
  * Commitment to ‘my success’: While 77 percent of employers say they are
    committed to their employees’ success, only 65 percent of workers agree.
    Fewer than two-thirds (63 percent) believe their company teaches them the
    skills they need to succeed in their current position, and roughly the
    same percentage (60 percent) feel appreciated most of the time. Workers
    who do feel appreciated at work are 19 percentage points more likely to
    say their company is committed to their success. Even small gestures can
    make a difference.

The ROI of Great Work Experiences

Among employees who feel most ‘connected’ or ‘empowered’ at work, more than 90
percent expect to still be working for their organization in 12 months,
compared with 81 percent of all workers. They are also at least 17 percentage
points more likely to say they trust their company’s leadership and 11
percentage points more likely to report that employee benefits help them worry
less about unexpected health and financial issues.

“With unemployment at a record low and top talent in high demand, employers
are looking for new ways to attract and retain workers,” says Katz. “For
employees to feel connected and loyal in this era of automation, a positive
employee experience is essential. Employees want a say in how, when and where
they work—and they’re prepared to reward the organizations that deliver with
hard work, performance and loyalty.”

Research Methodology

MetLife’s 16^th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study was conducted from
December 2017 through January 2018 and consists of two distinct studies
fielded by ORC International, a leading business intelligence firm. The
employer survey includes 2,501 interviews with benefits decision makers at
companies with at least two employees. The employee survey consists of 2,653
interviews with full-time employees, ages 21 and over, at companies with at
least two employees.

About ORC International

ORC International combines real market evidence from multiple sources with
industry expertise to uncover insights that fuel an organization’s most
important decisions. A global top 20 firm, ORC empowers smart, curious teams
to make recommendations that drive growth and shape the future of its clients’
businesses. To learn more about ORC International,
visit www.orcinternational.com.

About MetLife

MetLife, Inc. (NYSE:MET), through its subsidiaries and affiliates ("MetLife"),
is one of the world's leading financial services companies, providing
insurance, annuities, employee benefits and asset management to help its
individual and institutional customers navigate their changing world. Founded
in 1868, MetLife has operations in more than 40 countries and holds leading
market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and
the Middle East. For more information, visit www.metlife.com.

View source version on businesswire.com:


Rather than fearing the robot, employers and employees are embracing its
potential with open arms, new data from MetLife reveals.


MetLife, Inc.
Judi Mahaney, 212-578-7977
bliss integrated communication
Katie Perkowski, 646-576-4114
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