© Copyright ClearPath Benefits

The Interesting Balance Between Man & Machine

Is technology the American worker’s friend or foe?

Turns out the answer is a bit of both and is pretty much under continuous debate. Some workers largely depend on technology to do their jobs, while others find themselves being replaced by it. And the tech sector is responsible for some of the country’s most robust job creation (giving birth to entirely new job categories, in fact), while it’s also responsible for the demise of certain types of work.

So, which side of the debate do most Americans favor? To find out, the Pew Research Center canvassed nearly 1,900 professionals from a variety of industries between November 2013 and January 2014. Overall, these respondents were surprisingly evenly divided: 52% responded that technology will not displace more jobs than it creates by 2025, and 48% held the opposite opinion.

A 2014 CareerBuilder national poll of nearly 2,200 hiring managers and HR professionals found that 68% of companies that have replaced workers with technology also said the adoption of this technology created new positions at their firms. More than a third said that they ended up creating more jobs than the company had prior to adopting the technology. Interestingly, 35% of companies that replaced workers with technology said they hired people back because the technology didn’t work out.

These professionals also identified the functional areas most likely to be affected by the adoption of technology within the coming decade. They include (in descending order):

  1. Customer Service
  2. Information Technology
  3. Accounting/Finance
  4. Assembly/Production
  5. Shipping/Distribution
  6. Sales
One of the most recent — and most trending — tech stories is focused on “wearables,” i.e., devices, accessories, clothing and jewelry that incorporate computer and advanced electronic technologies (smart watches, Google glasses, etc.). Naturally, this new technology development holds a host of as-yet unexplored implications for employers.

However, one company recently made news by taking a firm stand regarding wearable technology. USAA (a provider of home, life, and auto insurance) has issued a wearables ban in its workplace. According to a Forbes article published in June, USAA identified several potential risks posed by wearables, including employees inadvertently recording inappropriate audio or capturing sensitive images in the workplace, as well as infringing on the privacy of other employees.

If the past few years have shown us anything, it’s that technology will continue radically altering our work and our workplaces. In other words, the sometimes uncomfortable but always interesting balance between man and machine goes on.