HBS Survey says Robots Are Preferred

A recent survey conducted by the Harvard Business School suggests that employers would rather hire robots than humans. The survey was given to HBS alumni, and is conducted annually.

Almost 46% percent of the firms surveyed said that they would rather invest in and employ technology to fulfill labor needs than hire human workers. Only 26% said that they would rather employ humans than invest in technology to do the work.

Nearly half of the people surveyed said that they would rather outsource vendors than hire additional employees, and the number of businesses that increased part-time laborers increased over the number of businesses who decreased part-time laborers by 2-1.

A business’s success is often measured in how profitable it is. One of the top expenses for a business is employee wages. If a firm can lower their own costs while maintaining revenue, profit increases along with perceived success.

So, it makes sense that the business owners surveyed were in favor of off-shoring and automated workers. Both practices would lower labor costs and increase profit.

However, one of the points the HBS survey touched on was the matter of success and workers. The report notes that a company that measures their success without regard to the living conditions of workers isn’t looking at the big picture. The report says that businesses have “a profound stake in the prosperity of the average American.” Are the companies that would rather employ robots looking to free their human workers for more creative work or to protect them from dangerous work? If not, they may be doing themselves harm in the long run.

That’s important to keep in mind. While automation can be great for a business in terms of production and cost, it has the potential to decrease entry-level jobs. Robotics and automation aren’t killing off jobs, they’re just moving them around. Only, the jobs that are being created by automation and robots require schooling and knowledge that traditional blue-collar work may not. As we get excited about increasing automation, we might need to get equally excited about training American workers for the new jobs thus created.

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