Humans Prefer Robots for Career Advice in APAC

Image credit: iStockphoto/YakobchukOlena

More Asia Pacific talents are seeking career advice from robots rather than humans.

The finding comes from the latest study by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence, a global study that surveyed 6,000 respondents in the Asia Pacific. It saw 88% of respondents saying robots support their careers better than humans.

The survey noted that many respondents use the emerging technology to identify skills they need, get recommendations about learning new skills, and take the next steps towards advancing their careers.

What’s wrong with humans?

The trust towards robots may reveal a problem with human leaders and employers. The study found that 86% of the workforce in the region are not satisfied with their employer’s support, with 91% of them believing their companies should do more to listen to their needs.

Respondents noted that they want employers to support professional and personal development. According to the study, 77% of the respondents stated they feel stuck in their personal lives with anxiety about their future and trapped in the same routine. Seventy-eight percent also said they felt stuck professionally because of the lack of growth opportunities to progress their career and are too overwhelmed to make any changes.

"Peoples' anxiety and stress levels increase as they discover and adapt to unknown changes. Remote working and limited physical interactions further restricted understanding and information sharing, resulting in lower engagement, collaborations, and trust,” said Peter Leow, director, human resources from The Salvation Army International.

He added that technology empowers personal growth and explores career development within a safe and controlled environment with transparency and consistency. “Robots and AI could help bridge some of these gaps to connect and strengthen interest and relations, and improve work cultures through crowd sharing of information with efficacy,” said Leow.

In robots, we trust

With a higher trust towards machine-based advice and rising expectations from employees, it’s time for companies to use technology to empower talent growth.

“Employers should make it as easy as possible for employees to be happy, feel fulfilled, and achieve their version of success with the help of the right technology and right tools,” said Shaakun Khanna, head of HCM cloud applications strategy for Asia Pacific at Oracle.

He added that technology could design a personalized journey that aligned with an individual’s personal growth with professional development, explored opportunities within the organization, and empowered growth that fits an individual’s career goals.

With the support of analytics, Khanna explained that HCM systems could help individuals identify gaps towards reaching their career goals and recommend a development plan. This journey can also be tracked and modified as the individual builds experiences and skillsets.

By building a centralized internal talent marketplace, Khanna said employers could also help individuals explore opportunities available across the entire organization. It can also connect team leaders with potential team members, creating a mentorship program.

The growing online learning experience platforms (LXP) also offer various learning materials, from bite-sized videos to qualifications and certifications, to help individuals grow professionally and personally. The newly acquired skillsets can be reflected within the HCM to enhance an individual’s personalized growth journey.

The imperfect robot advisor

Despite having a perfect picture of a robotic career coach, the use of AI for HCM is still far from perfect.

“Expectations that AI will magically fix HR challenges as broad-ranging as accessing HR systems and information, personalizing learning, and automating recruitment selection greatly outpace existing capabilities,” stated Helen Poitevin, vice president analyst at Gartner in the report AI Use Cases in Human Capital Management Technology.

Poitevin explained that the major challenge for AI-enabled career coaches is the lack of data and mature analytical models.  Without data of an individual’s experience and skills with the organization’s specific needs, the recommendation from the robotic career advisor may fall flat.

“In one Gartner interaction, a client shared how they tested one of the solutions available on the market. They discovered that, in their highly structured environment, the next best step for a finance manager would be a senior finance manager,” she stated. “The more simplistic the data you use in the application, the more simplistic the results will be.”

The new human frontier

Given the limitation in robotic career advisors, many from Oracle’s study believe humans still have a critical role to play.

Forty-five percent of the respondents stated humans are better at providing support based on personal experience and 39% also believed they can look beyond a resume to recommend roles that fit personalities.

Poitevin from Gartner suggested companies looking towards robotic career advisors should move forward with caution and be prepared for experimentation. “Check what data sources are being used to build models, and what career trajectory assumptions are made in the design of the solution,” she stated.

Her suggestion also reflects the new role of humans: to correct, add and refine the use of data in talent development.  “[Human advisors should] recognize that a career coach tool can only provide recommendations as good as the kind of data flowing into it. Explore how you can get richer datasets beyond employee CVs or job history, as stored in HR systems,” Poitevin stated.

In addition to enhanced data management, Khanna from Oracle also suggested enhancing the sense of empathy among human leaders — an essential but challenging skill to offer personal support and motivate business performance.

“Both AI and humans have an important role in this,” said Peter Attfield, chief talent and learning officer at Jardine Matheson. “But they [robots] will never replace properly trained human career counselors.”

Sheila Lam is the contributing editor of DigitalWorkforceTrends. Covering IT for 20 years as a journalist, she has witnessed the emergence, hype, and maturity of different technologies but is always excited about what's next. You can reach her at [email protected].

Image credit: iStockphoto/YakobchukOlena