The results of this survey may (or may not) surprise you…

If a study of over 6,000 respondents across 13 countries is correct, people who participated in the research were turning to robots to support their career development.

The study included employees, managers, HR leaders, and C-level executives in Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea, and Singapore, and asserts that those who felt stuck in their personal and professional lives were “ready to regain control of their future, after the COVID-19 pandemic left them feeling lonely and disconnected from their own lives,” according to the report.

On the issue of mental health and social phenomena caused by the ongoing pandemic, the following findings were reported:

  • 80% of respondents indicated they were negatively impacted by the past year, with 31% struggling financially; 29% suffering from declining mental health; 25% lacking career motivation; 25% feeling lonelier; and 22% feeling disconnected from their own lives.
  • 63% of respondents found 2021 to be the most stressful year at work ever; 55% struggled with mental health at work more in 2021 than in 2020.
  • Respondents noted they had lost control mainly over their personal lives (47%); their future (46%); and their finances (45%)
  • 77% of respondents felt about their future (32%); felt trapped in the same routine (27%); and suffered financially (25%)
  • 78% of respondents felt that their employers were more concerned with protecting their mental health now than before the pandemic.

Despite struggles over the last year, people in the Asia Pacific region were eager to make changes in their professional lives: 

  • 93% of respondents used the past year to reflect on their lives and 90% indicated the meaning of success had changed for them since the pandemic, with work-life balance (43%); mental health (38%); and workplace flexibility (34%) now top priorities.
  • 78% of those polled felt stuck professionally, because they did not have growth opportunities to progress their career (27%) and were too overwhelmed to make any changes (23%)
  • 72% of respondents felt that being stuck in their career had negatively impacted their personal lives as well by adding extra stress and anxiety (42%); contributing to feeling stuck personally (31%); and taking focus away from their personal lives (28%)
  • 84% of respondents were ready to make a career change, but 79% indicated they were facing major obstacles: financial instability (24%); not knowing what career change makes sense for them (23%); not feeling confident enough to make a change (22%); and seeing no growth opportunities in their present firm (22%)
  • Many respondents were willing give up key benefits such as flexible work arrangements (60%); vacation time (55%); and monetary bonuses (52%) or part of their salary (48%) for more career opportunities.
  • 86% of the respondents in the Asia Pacific region were not satisfied with their employer’s support. They were looking for organizations to provide more learning and skills development (38%); opportunities for new roles within their firm (32%); and more workplace flexibility (32%)

Robots as career advisors?

When queried about technology, respondents indicated the following sentiments:

  • 89% wanted technology to help define their future by recommending ways to learn new skills (40%); identifying skills they needed to develop (39%); and providing next steps to progress towards career goals (37%)
  • 82% would make life changes based on robot recommendations: 88% believed robots can support their careers better than a human by giving unbiased recommendations (41%); delivering resources tailored to their current skills or goals (38%); or quickly answering questions about their career (37%)
  • 45% still believed humans still had a critical role to play in career development through personal experience; 43% cited humans as better at identifying strengths and weaknesses; and 39% felt humans were better at looking beyond a résumé to recommend roles that fit personalities.
  • 91% believed their employer should be doing more to listen to their needs, and 61% were more likely to stay with a firm that used advanced technologies like AI to support career growth.

According to Dan Schawbel, Managing Partner, Workplace Intelligence, one of the two firms behind the survey: “The results clearly show that investment in skills and career development is now a key differentiator for employers as it plays a significant role in employees feeling like they have control over their personal and professional lives. Businesses that invest in their employees and help them find opportunities will reap the benefits of a productive, engaged workforce.”

Said Shaakun Khanna, Head of HCM Cloud Applications Strategy (Asia Pacific), Oracle, the other firm that funded the survey: “The pandemic has set a new course for the future of work… organizations need to do more to attract and retain talent. They need to double down their efforts to help employees identify and develop new skills, and provide personalized career journeys to put them in control of their careers once again.”