Robot-phobia? How this technology could affect the hospitality industry

VANCOUVER, Wash. — A study conducted by Washington State University (WSU) talks about the concerns that moving to robots in the food and hotel industry could lead human workers to quit.

Findings published in the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management involved over 620 hospitality and food service workers who answered survey questions on their concerns about robots taking over their jobs and contributing to their occupational stress.

This fear, known as robot-phobia, has these employees wondering how long before they are replaced.

“The turnover rate in the hospitality industry ranks among the highest across all non-farm sectors, so this is an issue that companies need to take seriously,” lead author Bamboo Chen, a hospitality researcher at WSU’s Carson College of Business, said. “The findings seem to be consistent across sectors and across both frontline employees and managers. For everyone, regardless of their position or sector, robot-phobia has a real impact.”

The study cites the continuing labor shortage as a reason more companies are looking to use robots to fill the shortfalls in their human staff.

This fear of job security correlates with why many plan to leave the industry.

The answer for hospitality organizations is to educate people on the pros and cons of using such technology and building the human-robot relationship, the authors wrote.

“When you’re introducing a new technology, make sure not to focus just on how good or efficient it will be. Instead, focus on how people and the technology can work together,” the author said.

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