Employee Benefits magazine

Please Read through Case Study found on Pg 97-98 and answer the 3 questions after,references are not required but if used please cite your work.

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck, Editor of Employee Benefits magazine, recalls a period when she was an intern at a large bank. Nearby, “the world’s first robotic bar” opened shop with a robotic barmaid, named Cynthia. The robot had in “her” repertoire nearly 60 different cocktails (which would be made quite unreliably at times). Debbie, in her recollection, noted that several questions, concerns, and implications should be considered when examining the trend of replacing people with robots or automated processes.

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However, numerous organizations, especially within the service industry (i.e., Wendy’s, Panera Bread, etc.), are adopting automated solutions at a rapid pace.  For example, Jack in the Box, a San Diego–based fast-food chain, found so much success with its self-order kiosks that it has since implemented them in nearly a fifth of its stores. Johnny Rockets has also been in the process of testing selfservice kiosks for takeout orders in its Australian stores. It has seen great preliminary success with these kiosks, with the kiosk software integrating well with its current ordering software, providing a new, comfortable user experience and refreshing the brand’s image. Many fast-casual companies note that this form of automation helps improve the consistency of service for customers, allows them to control and customize their experience, and allows the order time to be reduced (allowing employees to be able to focus on other tasks such as restaurant cleanliness, food preparation, and customer service). Although some organizations note that they have seen increased sales in add-ins such as bacon, cheese, avocado, and so on, others have been using the technology to promote healthier outcomes. For example, Steven Chan at Tin Drum Asia Café designed his store’s kiosk so that the customers “could select ‘lower blood pressure’ and then the smart menu would guide them to dishes that help achieve that health goal.”

The response to these self-service kiosks has generally been positive. Sixty percent of customers in university settings have been using the self-service kiosks, although the number is much lower for those in mixed-age situations. However, what does the expansion in automated services mean for employee job attitudes in these organizations? Some research suggests that low-skill workers tend to react more negatively toward robotic automation, viewing them as job security threats (this was not the case for high-skill workers, who tend to think of them more positively). These perceptions of job insecurity are rooted not only in the fear of downsizing but also in changes in the skills that are needed to perform the job, access to resources to do one’s job, and a reduction in the decision-making autonomy afforded to employees. Employees who are “left behind” after downsizing related to the addition of automated processes may often perceive the processes as unfair and unjust, with their attitudes being negatively affected. Given the rapid expansion of automation in the form of kiosk-based services, it appears as if this new technological development might be here to stay.

Questions:

  • Do you think employee attitudes are ultimately improved or decreased as a result of self-service kiosks? Why or why not?
  • What types of job attitudes do you believe will be affected by a switch to self-service kiosks? Do you think customers’ attitudes are affected as well? Why or why not?
  • What might organizations do to ease the transition toward self-service kiosks and maintain the job attitudes of their employees? Is it possible to find a balance between promoting customer and employee attitudes when introducing self-service kiosks?

 

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