Workers turning to AI to improve wellbeing and productivity

Tomorrow’s workforce will be more socially conscientious, and use technology to improve their productivity and health, according to research from Unum

The Future Workforce report examines the motivations and priorities of UK workers to understand how the nation’s workforce will change over the next decade. It outlines four emerging workforce cultures, based on a survey of 3,000 workers and interviews with industry experts.

The report predicts that workers will be more open to using technology to enhance their minds and bodies, allowing them to excel in an increasingly AI-driven landscape.

This type of employee would be interested in seeing tech in the workplace that optimises brain chemistry, such as meditation apps, or headsets that monitor or alter brain activity – a view held by 43% of workers. Almost half (49%) would be interested in using tech, such as activity-tracking wearables and time management apps, to improve their performance.

Many (43%) believe that AI will benefit their jobs – yet a greater proportion (55%) expressed concerns that AI may render them redundant in the future.

Additionally, 36% of workers stated they would like to see more technology that monitors their daily routines to help optimise their work. More than half (55%) stated they would be happy to accept the associated benefit rewards for participating in their employer’s data-optimised workplace.

The report, which focuses on emerging workforce trends in the next five years and how employers need to adapt to ensure they attract and retain top talent, identifies three additional emerging groups of workers.

It described another group as 'socially-committed workers'. This group feel strongly that companies have a duty to make a positive contribution to society, with 59% stating that they want to work for a company with a powerful social conscience. This rises to 69% of those aged between 25 and 34.

A further 46% of 25- to 34-year-olds feel that companies should be fined if they are not making civic and ethical contributions. The socially-committed worker will also expect their employer to give them dedicated time off to pursue charitable initiatives (37% of all workers).

Meanwhile, 'obligated workers' look to manage their numerous work and life commitments to combine financial security and career fulfilment. They include those with dependents and the ‘sandwich generation,’ who are attempting to balance raising children with caring for ageing parents.

More than half (56%) of workers said they will need to work longer out of necessity, and 61% expect that their employer will accommodate their needs based on their life stage (e.g. grandparent leave).

These workers want to build careers that are flexible – particularly at different life stages – often leading to ‘portfolio working,’ which features multiple roles and employers.

In contrast to the 'obligated workers', ‘portfolio workers' work flexibly but out of choice rather than necessity. Almost two-thirds (65%) of workers expect to work more years in their life because they want to, not because they have to. And 46% said they’re likely to have multiple careers over their lifetimes as opposed to one structured life-long career.

Peter O’Donnell, CEO of Unum UK, said that these trends will have a dramatic effect on the workplace.

“Today’s major societal trends will have a very significant impact on UK business and the needs and expectations of the workforce. Workers of tomorrow are likely to be more willing to share personal data with employers to improve productivity, more conscious of their company’s ethos, and more demanding of workplace flexibility to fulfil personal obligations or life-long learning goals,” he said.

O’Donnell added that business leaders should keep these changes in mind when considering how to retain talent.

“UK businesses will need to think ahead to ensure they attract and retain talent within this new landscape – be it through integration of new workplace technologies, clearly laying out their sustainability credentials, or increasing role-sharing to enable greater flexibility."