More CEOs are turning to automation to increase productivity, survey finds

CEOs put the creation of a skilled, educated and adaptable workforce as the No. 1 priority in societal outcomes businesses should deliver, yet the number who intend to increase productivity through automation has more than doubled since 2016, according to a global PricewaterhouseCoopers report.

The study surveyed 5,050 CEOs from 100 countries and territories between January and February on their viewpoints of the near future. Surveyed CEOs are proportionate to a country's gross domestic product to ensure their viewpoints are representative.

Here are three findings on CEOs' perception of workforce automation:

  1. CEOs put the creation of a skilled, educated and adaptable workforce at the top of their list when asked to prioritize the societal outcomes a business should help deliver.

  2. Thirty-six percent of CEOs aim to focus on productivity through technology and automation, more than double what CEOs said in a 2016 survey.

  3. A growing number of CEOs are seeking to boost their organizations through digital investments in the workforce.

However, productivity through automation threatens to leave some in the workforce behind, the PwC report said. With 20 percent of CEOs "extremely concerned" about economic injustice, the report suggests upskilling or reskilling employees to enable their participation in an evolving workforce.

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