More Singaporeans Trust a Robot Than Their Managers

We have been talking about the way AI is impacting the workplace and jobs. But new research by Oracle and Future Workplace showed that Singaporeans' attitudes toward their managers are also changing.

The study, which saw 8,370 employees, managers, and HR leaders across 10 countries, including 260 employees, managers, and HR leaders in Singapore, found that AI has changed the relationship between people and technology at work. More telling is that the traditional role of HR teams and the manager is considerably shifting.

“Over the past two years we’ve found that workers have become more optimistic as they’ve adopted AI in the workplace and HR is leading the way. The 2019 study shows that AI is redefining not only the relationship between worker and manager, but also the role of a manager in an AI-driven workplace. Based on the findings, managers will remain relevant in the future if they focus on being human and using their soft skills, while leaving the technical skills and routine tasks to robots,” said Dan Schawbel, research director at Future Workplace.

According to the conclusions, 84% of Singaporeans would trust a robot more than their manager. The change in attitude is not uncommon. Singaporeans positive attitude toward AI comes in second only to workers in India and China, where 90% and 88% of workers respectively are more trusting of robots over their managers.

"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. 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,” said Emily He, senior vice president, Human Capital Management Cloud Business Group, Oracle.

When asked what robots can do better than their managers, respondents in Singapore said robots are better at providing unbiased information (47%), maintaining work schedules (42%), problem-solving (34%), and are resources for asking questions without scrutiny (30%).

As expected, robots do not fare well when understanding emotions and in personal development. When asked what managers can do better than robots, Singaporeans said the top three tasks were understanding their feelings (49%), coaching them (38%), and creating a work culture (36%).

Fifty-one percent of respondents in Singapore also said in the workplace, relationships with employees were the most positively impacted by AI, followed by relationships with managers (37%).

The study showed that Singaporeans are now becoming more comfortable with AI. At 56%, Singapore has a higher global rate of 50% in using some AI at work. As a result, 49% of Singaporeans feel the main opportunity provided by AI would be to free up time for themselves at work.

However, Singaporeans do not see AI as a solution for all business issues. While 40% of Singaporeans said they would trust AI on what work to do and what to learn, only 21% agreed on the same when it comes to matters such as hiring.

There are also gender differences in Singapore. Men (49%) have a more positive view of AI at work and its impacts than women (39%).

Globally, workers in India (60%) and China (56%) are the most excited about AI, followed by the U.A.E. (44%), Singapore (41%), Brazil (32%), Australia/New Zealand (26%), Japan (25%), U.S. (22%), U.K. (20%) and France (8%).