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Latest knowledge, strategy and insights from Oracle Switzerland

  • October 13, 2020

Work related stress? Employees prefer talking to robots!

Caterina van Leeuwen
PR Manager Switzerland

The pandemic and our fast paced economic changes come with a number of side effects– including stress! The increased stress levels can lead to mental diseases. Our new Oracle AI@Work study unveils that employees prefer to turn to robots rather than to humans to cope with this increased stress levels.

The Swiss population has so far weathered the coronavirus crisis well and has borne the consequences of containment, compared with the other countries. These were the findings of a recent AXA Group European study. In the professional sphere, however, conditions remain tense: the study reports a clear increase in stress at work in June 2020 among the Swiss population. It also appears that the pandemic has put mental problems in the spotlight. These diseases are indeed often stigmatized and as a result, there is a tendency to avoid talking about the subject, which complicates prevention measures.

Oracle’s AI@Work 2020 Study, once again raised eyebrows with its findings about AI. Indeed, 68% of people surveyed said they would rather talk to a robot than their manager about work-related stress. An even larger majority—80% of 12,347 respondents worldwide— reported they are “open” to using a robot for therapy or counselling in dealing with anxiety. For this line of inquiry, the survey defined a robot as an “AI powered therapist or chatbot counsellor.” Seventy percent of survey participants said they feel more anxiety at work this year than last—so the need for outlets and counselling is likewise on the rise.

More than a third of them, find it really difficult to balance between professional and private life, with the consequence of a burn-out situation for 25% of those surveyed.

“A striking point of the study is that 68% would prefer to talk to a robot about their stress and anxiety at work.”

Joachim Skura, HCM Strategy Director, Oracle explains: "The concept of anonymity helps, as we have already seen when reporting harassment, for example. We are less afraid of the other person's judgement, we have less of a feeling of bias on the other side. In addition, the robot has the advantage of instantaneity in the response, which is important for an employee under pressure".

“34% declare that the robot offers a judgmental free zone and 30% an unbiased approach.”

Joachim Skura also points out: "In spite of the level of acceptance of artificial intelligence, which can be a source of concern for employees, the acceptance rate is surprisingly high.  We have learned to work differently, with less physical interaction with teams and managers, but more videoconferencing. Digital today is about keeping the connection rather than distancing".

How is AI used?

Employees communicate symptoms such as feverishness, anxiety, difficulty in concentrating to the robot, which identifies the concern and suggests ways forward. These can include, Reminding how to manage time and respect breaks, or the importance of physical activity or even simply directing to specialists who will be able to assist. Artificial intelligence is not about an end state and it evolves in time as it learns from experience with employees and refines its responses as it goes along. Artificial intelligence does not analyse, does not heal. Humans must follow, and they now have the means to do so, since AI can take over the most repetitive tasks, sometimes 80% of the activity. This allows HR to refocus on their real human added value.

Find out more:

Guiding HR Leaders through the New COVID-19 World

and our Quick Tour

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