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Employers Want Employees To Work Like Robots

Do you ever feel like you're simply going through the motions at work in a way that resembles a robot on an assembly line? Well, a new study finds that it's not just your imagination!

Consulting firm The Energy Project and the Harvard Business Review recently studied a group of 20,000 employees. They concluded that employers are, in fact, trying to make employees work like...machines.

More than half of employees in the The Energy Project/HBR study, however, said they increasingly lack outlets for creativity, growth, and even basic thinking, on the job.

Nearly 6 in 10 employees (59%) surveyed, meanwhile, said they're distracted, drained and tired because they feel like their employers treat them more like machines than human beings.

We do have something in common with robots, however: We both need time to recharge so we can find the energy to keep working! Of course, a robot needs to be plugged in, quite literally, to re-energize itself. We humans, however, are plugged in all the time via our smartphones and other workplace devices. Our very human challenge is to unplug before we lose energy and burn out. We're at risk when we can't find a way to unplug.

But robots don't ask for raises, promotions, or family and sick leave. They don't argue with their work colleagues, or leave sticky, melted cheese inside the break room microwave. They can type faster than 65 WPM, take more calls, do journalistic research, perform legal discovery and still be sitting there when we leave for the day.

No wonder robots are winning the workplace!

What does it all mean? Well, I think it means that employers of all sizes should stop to think about how "robotic" their particular workplace might be starting to feel to employees. How often do employees get to problem solve on the job? Do they have an outlet for creativity in expression, and opportunities for change? Are they challenged to grow and learn on occasion? Do they get to unplug, and recharge? Do they feel like they're just going through the motions? Are they treated like the multi-faceted, complex human beings they are?

Answering these questions could go a long way toward making today's workplaces more vibrant, creative, thoughtful and enjoyable. We can all benefit from a more human workplace. I'll let management run a few algorithms to generate the necessary spreadsheets from which to form their own conclusions.


  1. The job I have definitely expects people to act like robots. It isn’t some sort of assembly line position where one would expect to do the same tasks repeatedly – it’s an office job. Creativity, forward thinking, and exuberant personality are all rewarded with disciplinary action for “stirring the pot”. The company as a whole acts as though it’s still stuck in 1972. They run on antiquated software, ancient home-made programs, and for god’s sake… they still have a dot-matrix printer!

    I’ve seen employees come and go. Those who act like their authentic selves leave (or are fired) the fastest. Those who can sit in silence stay here the longest, until they can no longer deal. I’m somewhat introverted by nature, so it hasn’t bothered me too much. Some days though, it feels as if I’ve forgotten how to be a real person & almost forget to remove my robot suit when I return home to my family.

    Once, my boss caught me smiling while I was reading a funny email from my mom. As she walked by my desk scowling, she asked “what are you so happy about?”

    So, I sit here blank faced and silent, with a universe of thoughts and opinions spinning through my brain every day – not allowed to outwardly express any of them. Luckily, I use my down time at work to write blogs, run a side business, take online classes, and I’m even working on some short stories. When I can finally afford to leave this place, the robot armor will be disengaged, and a glorious set of wings will appear LOL. No, wait I mean LWE ... Laugh Without Expression :)


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