Walmart's robots don't appear to be going over so great with all of its workers


EXCERPT: Retail giants are increasingly turning over jobs and tasks performed in the past by human workers to a growing workforce of robots. A new report on this automation of jobs by Walmart says it’s led to a greater sense of tedium and unease among some human employees, even as the company insists that its robots are meant to benefit them.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that while some Walmart employees working at the roughly 1,500 locations where these robots have been introduced described them as helpful, others claimed the robots made their jobs less enjoyable and made them feel undervalued by the company. These employees described to the paper an increasingly monotonous work environment in which they are effectively tending to and training the robots, and felt limited by the work of performing tasks delegated by machines.

Walmart claims that its robots—whose tasks include everything from cleaning floors to scanning shelves and sorting inventory—are meant to “minimize the time an associate spends on the more mundane and repetitive tasks” and allow its workers “more of an opportunity to do what they’re uniquely qualified for: serve customers face-to-face on the sales floor.”

[...] But like Amazon—which claims its gamification of labor comes with the best of intentions—it’s difficult to take seriously Walmart’s claims of prioritizing employee happiness when it’s essentially requiring its human workers train, as the Post put it, “their possible replacements.” (MORE - details)

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