- Most employees (64%) in a new survey said they trust robots — AI-powered tools — more than their managers, according to an Oracle and Future Workplace study of more than 8,000 workers, managers and HR professionals from 10 countries.
- The study revealed half of respondents have turned to a robot for advice instead of their manager, with more men (56%) than women (44%) reporting having done so. Survey respondents said robots are better at providing unbiased information, problem solving, maintaining work schedules and budget management. They said managers are better at understanding feelings, coaching workers and creating work culture.
- "As this study shows, the relationship between humans and machines is being redefined at work, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to successfully managing this change," Emily He, Oracle's SVP, Human Capital Management Cloud Business Group, said in a news release. "Instead, organizations need to partner with their HR organization to personalize the approach to implementing AI at work in order to meet the changing expectations of their teams around the world."
Employees may have more trust in AI than their managers for a variety of reasons, but it may be the technology's ease of use and accessibility that merely makes it seem more capable and reliable than a boss. Managers have something that AI, at least for now, lacks: the human touch. As the respondents noted, human managers can empathize, create culture and coach. These strengths are highly valuable. To get the best performance from employees, a Gartner, Inc. report concluded that the workplace needs "connector managers" — leaders who know their own strengths and weaknesses, when to provide employees support and guidance and when to leave them on their own.
The survey responses highlighted where managers come up short compared to automated tools, which may indicate the need for training. Managers admitted in a 2018 West Monroe Partners study that they don't have the training they need to lead their teams. HR can step in with training to help managers not only engage and develop employees.