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Déjà Leonard is a copywriter and freelance journalist based in Calgary.
ServiceNow, which helps companies manage digital workflows, recently released its fourth annual World of Work study. The study takes a look at the evolving relationship between Canadian office employees and their work.
This year, it focused on how technology can be used to help employees pour energy into more fulfilling aspects of their work, so it’s no surprise artificial intelligence was a big topic.
The data in the study was gathered from a nationally representative sample of 1,504 English and French-Canadian office workers. Everyone included in the study was over 18 years old and was working at a company with 500 or more employees.
Below are the four key takeaways that are defining the state of the Canadian workforce, according to the study:
1. Menial tasks are on the rise
Data from the World of Work study shows that Canadian office workers are spending more than a third of each day on repetitive, mindless work.
This might not sound out of the ordinary, but it has risen to 37 per cent from 31.
“Organizations play an important role in alleviating menial work. They can reduce meetings, increase or maintain flexibility in work options and invest in technology that help reduce menial tasks such as AI and other tools. Benefits from such solutions could include a reduction in both employee attrition and burnout,” the report states.
2. Employers need to enable productivity
The report shows that while companies have the ability to alleviate some of the repetitive tasks, few are taking action.
“The majority (63 per cent) of office workers feel their employer does not currently have adequate solutions in place to help alleviate repetitive work. As a result, 58 per cent of Canadian office workers are asking employers to invest in solutions that enable productivity,” the report states.
Canadian workers believe that AI will help them become more productive, make fewer errors, give them more time for other tasks and over all reduce their stress.
There is risk for employers that don’t take action. Barriers in technology (33 per cent) and innovation (35 per cent) are some of the key reasons employees will consider leaving their current roles.
3. There is potential in AI
The study shows that 41 per cent believe the most useful application of AI at work will be the automation of tasks.
“Embracing AI in the workplace is not solely about getting more done. It’s about taking the repetitive, mundane work out of the everyday. When employees feel productive and can spend more time on meaningful activities, everybody wins. Leaders and individual contributors alike see the benefits of AI, they want to use it, and they are seeking more training to develop the necessary skills. Successful companies will be the ones that listen and invest in the tools that liberate employees to do their best work,” Chris Ellison, vice president and general manager for ServiceNow Canada, says in the report.
4. Canadians aren’t scared of AI
No longer are the days of employees fearing that AI will replace them. They see it as a tool to enable them to focus on the work that matters.
However, 33 per cent of Canadians fear they won’t be able to keep up with the technology. This may be why nearly half (49 per cent) plan to pursue additional education or AI training on their own, outside of work.
“Growth opportunities within the workplace are important to Canadian workers, with many considering moving to a new job that fulfills their training and upskilling needs,” the report states. “AI is a top area of training interest and is seen as a skill they need for the future.”
What I’m reading around the web
- The province of Ontario plans to ban employers from requiring Canadian work experience in job postings or application forms. The change should help even the playing field for newcomers who typically have bachelor’s degrees, but end up working jobs that only require a high school education.
- Starbucks Canada has announced it will begin posting pay ranges on all of its job postings. According to one expert, the change shouldn’t cause much of a problem, because there aren’t many hierarchies in the retail side of the business and the majority of workers are generally short-term, younger employees.
- New data from Statistics Canada shows that the millennial and Gen Z population are twice as likely to own a home if their parents do, compared to their peers whose parents don’t. However, according to the Toronto Star article, the positive association was strongest for the millennial and Gen Z people who are earning individual incomes of $80,000 or less.
- No matter what ends up happening at OpenAI after the announcement of the firing of chief executive Sam Altman, according to this TechCrunch article, the chaos has only stoked the fires of the artificial intelligence talent war. AI skills are in high demand, and competitors will be looking to poach employees from other companies.
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