increased use of AI and robotics linked to brighter outlook for U.S. business growth.

May 17, 2017

Business optimism may be fueling recent spike in number of executives reporting increased use of automation

ATLANTA – May 17, 2017 – The number of U.S. companies reporting an increase in their use of automation doubled in the first quarter of 2017, fueled in part by a recent spike in business confidence, according to a report released today by global talent solutions firm Randstad Sourceright.

Based on a global survey of C-suite and human capital leaders, Randstad Sourceright’s Talent Trends research finds that 36 percent of U.S. companies have increased the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics over the last 12 months, up from 18 percent during the fourth quarter of 2016. Over the same period, the number of respondents indicating that they expect significant growth in the next 12 months soared from 10 percent to 28 percent.

“The latest survey results are good news for the economy and American workers,” said Rebecca Henderson, CEO of Randstad Sourceright. “Surging business confidence appears to be fueling both an increase in the investment companies are making in automation and additional hiring to manage expected growth. Contrary to the headlines, this survey shows that automation can provide opportunities for people and vice versa.”

According to survey results, 26 percent of U.S. companies report that growth in the past 12 months surpassed expectations, notably higher than the 20 percent that reported in the fourth quarter of 2016. The rosier outlook is spurred by an optimistic political climate, which many executives and human capital leaders feel will be favorable to U.S. business interests. Over two-thirds of the companies surveyed say the current political climate opens up tremendous opportunities to execute their talent strategies.

Despite fears that automation will displace U.S. workers, survey respondents overwhelmingly expect AI and robotics to have a positive impact on their businesses, with 70 percent reporting that they plan to hire extensively in the year ahead to keep pace with expected growth.

Even with the integration of AI and robotics, the latest Randstad Sourceright Talent Trends survey finds that a primary concern for U.S. business leaders is a scarcity of skilled talent. More than a quarter of those surveyed expect that searching for skilled workers will be a major challenge for their business over the next year.

“Despite fears that robots are going to displace good jobs, human capital leaders are telling us the demand for talent is rising,” Henderson said. “Candidates need to focus on how they can further develop, adapt and present skills that are best suited to the jobs of the future.”


Q2 2017 Talent Trends Quarterly highlights

  • Praise for automation: American workers may be uneasy with automation, fearing robots will soon replace them. But U.S. business executives have a much brighter perspective. 70 percent of respondents say they expect that automation and robotics will have a positive impact on their business in the next 3 to 5 years.
  • Automated jobs: U.S. companies expect automation will impact different roles than companies in the other regions. While companies in EMEA and APAC, for example, see that automation overwhelmingly impacts jobs in IT/technology and manufacturing, U.S. companies expect automation will impact mostly operations and administration. 
  • Talent scarcity: While talent scarcity is ranked as the top concern for U.S. business leaders, following closely is the expected wave of baby boomer retirements. More than a quarter of respondents say worker retirements will negatively affect or be one of the biggest pain points for their business.
  • HR digitalization: 53 percent of leaders believe HR digitalization is one of the most impactful developments taking place in the workplace, with three-quarters of human capital leaders saying it directly influences their business.
  • Employer branding: There is a clear disconnect between C-suite executives and HR leaders regarding the value of employer branding and the execution of the candidate experience. More than 50 percent of C-suite executives say they believe their employer brand brings major benefits to the company.  Surprisingly, only 37 percent of HR leaders feel the same.


To get more insight into the top talent trends, visit the Randstad Sourceright Talent Trends Quarterly digital hub.

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