Exploring the experiences of automation on lower-level employees in an automotive assembling plant
Automation and new technology have become commonly used terms over the last few decades. These terms are not always seen in a positive light. The term 'automation' carries a certain elements of fear, namely a fear of replacement, a fear of unemployment, the fear of conflict between employees and employers and the fear of losing valuable relationships at work if automation were to be implemented. Because South Africa is a developing country, employees have not yet experienced the full impact of automation as in developed countries such as America, China and United Kingdom. Automation has only been implemented on a small scale in some companies. Nevertheless, even on a small scale, automation caused a negative ripple throughout the business sector of the country. Employees perceive automation as being problematic and leading to job losses. The phenomenological study was done using qualitative research through interviewing low-level employees and their managers and employers. The interviews focused on how employees perceived the various factors of automation. The primary objective of this study was to identify employees' perceptions of automation and how they feel automation will affect their work. The researcher examined various ways that automation influences employees, especially low skilled workers. The results of the study showed that even though automation is still relatively new in South Africa, employees still feared its presence.