James Hayton
  • The Pissarides Review will explore true impact of automation in UK
  • WBS will examine the drivers of firms adopting the technology
  • It will also find out what impact automation is having on workers
  • Pandemic has accelerated the move to tech taking over tasks and jobs

Warwick Business School is to be part of a £1.8 million project investigating new policies that will help UK workers left behind by new automation technologies.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated investment by businesses in automation technologies which are replacing human inputs in many work tasks, processes and sometimes entire jobs. Such automation is impacting society and the economy in what is becoming known as the fourth industrial revolution.

The new project, entitled The Future of Work and Wellbeing: The Pissarides Review will explore the true impact of automation on organisations, the workforce and the communities they operate in.

James Hayton (pictured), Professor of Human Resource Management and Entrepreneurship, is leading the school’s involvement in the project, with WBS investigating the drivers of why firms adopt automation technology and the impact it has on workers.

WBS will also be using its expertise in behavioural science to develop policies to tackle the issues unearthed in the review.

Professor Hayton, who is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute for the Future of Work, said: “There is increasing evidence showing that the adoption of technology associated with automation has accelerated through the pandemic.

“More concerning, it seems that the impact of this technological disruption is unevenly distributed and that the repercussions of the COVID-19 recession have had a disproportionate effect on the UK’s most vulnerable workers.

“This ambitious project aims to understand how work is changing through technological disruption; how these changes - hastened by the pandemic - affect inequalities in access, conditions and quality of work, and impact worker health and wellbeing.

“It will also seek to answer why groups of people are affected differently and what the wider implications are for individual and social wellbeing.

What impact is automation having on jobs? 

“We will use insights from our research to develop policy recommendations to address the disadvantages and help build resilience for the vulnerable individuals and communities that increasing automation is threatening.”

The project is funded by the Nuffield Foundation's Strategic Fund and is a three-year collaboration between the Institute for the Future of Work, Imperial College and WBS.

The school will be holding ‘nudgeathons’ where diverse stakeholders with expert and ‘insider’ knowledge interact to solve policy issues highlighted in the project using behavioural science insights, before the ideas are stress-tested.

WBS will also work directly with business, government departments and membership networks to disseminate the research and practice findings derived from the project.

Ram Gopal, Professor of Information Systems Management and Pro-Dean (Research, Engagement & Impact), said: “The Future of Work is a subject that is at the heart of the school’s research programme. With the fourth industrial revolution evolving around us it is vital we understand the impact it will have on people’s way of working, how many will be left unemployed and what new skills and jobs will be needed.

“This revolution will have a profound effect on society and it is imperative the UK plans and helps people adapt to its unfolding impact.

The Pissarides Review, that WBS is playing a vital role in, will help immensely in this task, and guide policymakers in mollifying the impact of automation technology on the most vulnerable in the UK.”