Despite this widespread belief that the workplace will look very different a decade from now than it does today, just 27 percent of workers in the new CNBC/SurveyMonkey poll say technology is currently threatening their jobs. But, those few who say they are "falling behind" in keeping up with technology are more than twice as likely as those who are keeping up or ahead of the curve to say that technology is a threat. This threat is clearly a stressor; these workers who feel like they're falling behind are also more likely to say they've considered quitting their job in the past three months (44 percent vs. 28 percent among those who are keeping up, and 30 percent among those who are ahead of the curve).
One way to counteract this threat from unpredictable technological change is retraining. Companies and managers who are looking ahead to the changes their industries will soon face can help their employees continue to feel like they are prepared. Employees who trust their bosses "a lot" to prepare them for changes in technology at work are one-third as likely to say they've recently considered quitting (18% vs. 61%) compared to workers who don't trust their bosses at all.
No one wants to think that their own job could become obsolete, but in truth every industry will be affected by changes to technology. At present, workers in two industries — airlines & aerospace and advertising & marketing — are those mostly likely to say technology is currently threatening their work, with more than 4 in 10 workers in each industry (44% and 42%, respectively) expressing this concern. At the other end of the spectrum, a large majority of those in the nonprofit (84%), education, government, or legal industries (80% each) say their job is not currently threatened by changes from technology.
While a robot may never entirely replace a teacher, lawyer or mayor, these jobs will likely require an entirely new set of skills in the future. Workers who are prepared for this change — and the bosses who can help prepare them — will continue to be more satisfied with their jobs and more happy at work.
—By Laura Wronski, senior research scientist, and Jon Cohen, chief research officer, SurveyMonkey
The CNBC/SurveyMonkey online poll was conducted March 13–18 among a national sample of 8,664 workers in the United States. Respondents for this survey were selected from the more than 2 million people who take surveys on the SurveyMonkey platform each day. Data have been weighted initially for age, race, sex, education and geography using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey to reflect the demographic composition of the United States age 18 and over, then weighted for age, race, sex, education, employment status and geography using Census Bureau's Current Population Survey to reflect the demographic composition of U.S. employed population. The modeled error estimate for this survey is plus or minus 1.5 percentage points. Full results available here.