Tired Aussies not prepared for technology-driven future of work

Just One-in-five of Australian workers say they only adopt new technologies in the workplace when they are forced to

Australian workers are unwell, exhausted, near to packing in their jobs, and not ready to deal with the challenges in the workplace driven by automation and artificial intelligence, suggests a report from the University of Melbourne.

In 2022 1,400 Australian workers were asked about their experiences at work over COVID.

The findings, published in the 2023 State of the Future of Work Report, reveals Australian workers were in poorer physical and mental health since the pandemic began, with workers between 25-55 years of age significantly impacted, one third of which had considered quitting.

Report co-author and sociologist Dr Brendan Churchill said: “With high rates of fatigue and exhaustion among younger and middle-aged workers, it’s no surprise that over a third of prime aged workers in Australia are considering quitting their jobs.

“Australian workplaces must prioritise workers’ well-being into the recovery to provide greater support in addressing burnout and mental distress.”

Automation and the use of AI are expected to have a major impact on the ways Australians work in the future, including the arrival of ChatGPT, which can write language with human-like efficiencies. AI advances are poised to reduce human decision-making, but the report found Australian workers are largely unprepared for these challenges.

Report co-author and human geographer Professor David Bissell said: “We found that most Australians aren’t too worried about being replaced by AI and automation at work and believe that their skills are adequate to meet the challenges ahead.

“However, our research shows that Australians are cautious adopters of new technologies in the workplace. One-in-five say they only adopt new technologies in the workplace when they are forced to, so we need to understand the reasons behind this and facilitate technology use that is inclusive to all”.