Artificial Intelligence

Worries about artificial intelligence, surveillance at work may be connected to poor mental health

Washington — Employees’ concerns about the use of artificial intelligence and monitoring technologies in the workplace may be negatively related to their psychological well-being and lead them to feel less valued, according to a survey from the American Psychological Association.

Work in America: Artificial Intelligence, Monitoring Technology and Psychological Well-Being” is a follow-up to APA’s 2023 Work in America Survey. The survey was conducted online by The Harris Poll among 2,515 employed adults nationwide between April 17 and April 27, 2023.

Nearly two out of every five workers (38%) reported worrying that AI might make some or all of their job duties obsolete in the future. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of those who reported being worried about AI also reported typically feeling tense or stressed during the workday, compared with more than one-third (38%) of those who did not report being worried about AI, according to the survey.

Certain groups were also more likely to express concerns about their jobs being made obsolete by AI. Workers with a high school education or less were significantly more likely than those with at least a four-year college degree to report they were worried that some or all of their job duties would be replaced by AI (44% vs. 34%, respectively). Black (50%), Hispanic (46%) and Asian (44%) workers also expressed significant worry about their job duties being replaced by AI, compared with 34% of white respondents.

“Employers interested in investing in artificial intelligence systems must also invest in their employees, educating them about the role of AI and provide opportunities for feedback,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA’s chief executive officer “The workplace is changing rapidly. Open and honest communication from employers can help relieve employees’ anxieties about the unknown and improve overall well-being, which is associated with higher organizational performance.”

Workers also reported being concerned about their employers using computer software, cameras or other forms of technology to monitor them during the workday. Around half of workers (51%) across different workplace settings said they were aware their employer uses technology to monitor them on the job, including office workers (49%), manual laborers (49%) and customer/client/patient services workers (55%).

Being monitored at work also appeared to coincide with poor employee morale, as monitored employees often reported feeling uncomfortable with the way their employer used technology to track them (46% vs. 23% of workers who did not report being monitored), feeling micromanaged (51% vs. 33%) and experiencing emotional exhaustion at work in the past month (39% vs. 22%).

The survey also revealed that workers who were worried about being replaced by AI or were monitored by their employer often reported feeling as if they did not matter in their workplace. Nearly two out of five workers who reported being worried about AI believed that they did not matter to their employer (41% vs. 23% of employees who did not report concerns about AI) or their co-workers (37% vs. 17%). Workers who reported being monitored by their employer also reported more often that they believed they were not valued at work (26%) compared with workers who did not report being monitored (17%).

The U.S. Surgeon General’s Framework for Mental Health and Well-Being in the Workplace highlights mattering at work as one of the “Five Essentials” needed to strengthen workplace well-being. The surgeon general’s framework says that workers who feel appreciated by their employers often have an increased sense of value and meaning, along with an ability to better manage stress. Those who do not feel valued—like some of the workers reporting worries about AI or monitoring at work—may risk experiencing symptoms of poor mental health such as stress, irritability or signs often associated with workplace burnout.

“We know that people want to feel as if their work makes a difference in the lives of others,” said Evans. “And employees who feel like their job duties can be replaced by artificial intelligence, or that their employer feels the need to constantly surveil their work, are less likely to feel as if the work they do matters. It is up to employers to make sure that any new technologies they introduce into the workplace enhance rather than diminish that sense of meaning. Employers who pay attention to how technology affects their employees will perform better.”


The research was conducted online in the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association among 2,515 employed adults. The survey was conducted April 17 to 27, 2023. The survey was weighted to be representative of the broader population. A full methodology is available.


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