More than a few observers take the view that AI will deprive workers of employment and constitutes a threat to them. However, new information technologies such as AI might affect not only employment and wages but also the way workers approach their work and could influence aspects of their well-being, such as job satisfaction, workplace stress, and health, in a variety of ways.
Automation can fuel both increase in job satisfaction and increase in workplace stress
A project of the Research Institute of Science and Technology for Society (RISTEX) of the Japan Science and Technology Agency conducted a survey of approximately 10,000 workers and analysed the impact of new information technologies on approaches to work and on well-being. One interesting finding is that the more new information technologies such as AI is adopted, the larger the increase in worker job satisfaction. Conversely, there is a tendency for work-related stress to also increase.
Human task complexity will increase with the involvement of Automation
The research shows that the more information technologies are adopted, the greater the shift in the nature of tasks away from those that can be accomplished by AI and towards using the time freed up to concentrate on tasks with increased complexity.
At the same time, the more complex the work, the greater is the sense of satisfaction when it is accomplished, resulting in a rising trend for job satisfaction.
Managing worker stress with a job demands-resources model
The ‘job demands-resources model’ developed in occupational health studies states that the stress on the worker rises as demands of the job increase – refering here to both number and difficulty of tasks, whereas stress decreases when more resources are made available to support the worker in handling the demands of the job.
In this context, the introduction of new information technologies leads to an increase in task difficulty and a need for the worker to acquire new skills and knowledge to cope with the new tasks.
Since new information technologies such as AI generate a positive influence on the approach to work and individual well-being, it would seem reasonable to facilitate the maximum possible enjoyment of such benefits. However, negative side effects such as increases in work-related stress and deterioration in health may also occur. Extracting the maximum benefit from the positive aspects of new information technologies requires that strengthening of job resources minimisation of side effects.