AI Survey

There are significant concerns among employed US workers regarding the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in the workplace, according to an Ernst & Young (EY) survey of 1,000 employees familiar with AI.

The study indicated revealed widespread apprehension, with 71% of survey respondents expressing worry about AI in the workforce, and nearly half (48%) are more anxious about AI than a year ago, citing concerns over its rapid evolution.

Despite their concerns, 4-in-5 employees perceive value in AI, anticipating enhanced efficiency (82%), productivity (81%), and the ability to focus on higher-value tasks (81%) through its implementation.

Of utmost concern to employees is the fear of job obsolescence due to AI, with 75% worrying that certain roles will become obsolete, and 65% expressing anxiety about AI potentially replacing their jobs.

Financial and career apprehensions prevail, encompassing worries about decreased salaries (72%), missing promotions due to unfamiliarity with AI (67%), and the risk of falling behind without AI proficiency (66%).

The lack of guidance on ethical AI usage compounds these worries, with 65% anxious about not knowing how to use AI ethically, while 77% and 75% harbor concerns regarding legal and cybersecurity risks, respectively.

Despite being digitally native, Gen Z employees exhibit lower AI usage rates (63%) and lesser conviction in its benefits compared to Millennials and Gen X. However, 90% of respondents work in organizations employing AI, and 67% have advocated for AI adoption personally.

Employees express a keen interest in training and upskilling opportunities related to AI, with 80% believing it would enhance their comfort in using AI at work. Despite that, nearly three quarters (73%) of respondents said they are worried about insufficient training availability, while 63% fear a lack of access to AI learning prospects.

Ana Casic, research lead at TalentLMS, recommends employers personalize the AI learning experience.

“Design a training plan that fits the different needs, wants, and goals of employees,” she says. “Introduce flex training that will allow employees more freedom in deciding what and when they learn.”

She notes employees surveyed by TalentLMS revealed they believe having more flexibility in choosing training topics and timing of training will be important in the coming year.

“Empower learners with data and provide them with data-based insights into their training,” Casic adds. “Close to seven out of 10 employees we surveyed said they want to understand their progress better by accessing learning data. This will not only increase employee motivation but also enhance their learning experience.”

The survey also reveals a demand for transparency, with most respondents favoring organizations that offer AI responsibility/ethics training (80%), establish ethical AI task forces (77%), and include trusted third-party reviews in the AI development process (76%).

The findings also indicated a desire by employees for self-regulation in AI technology organizations, with 81% of survey respondents voicing support for enhancement of self-regulation.

Looking beyond the workplace, nearly eight in 10 (78%) of those surveyed indicated a desire for increased governmental involvement in AI regulation. To foster confidence among employees, survey respondents said they thought integrating workers at all levels into the AI adoption process (77%) and advocating ethical AI usage from senior leadership (77%) would be the most effective measures.

Hired CEO Josh Brenner says if businesses are planning to adopt AI tools, it is essential to communicate the company’s vision for AI and address any potential concerns about job displacement in a transparent manner.

“Regularly updating employees on progress, encouraging open dialogue, involving them in the process, celebrating success stories, and promoting a learning mindset are also crucial to building trust,” he says.

Brenner adds it’s also important to remember AI implementation is an ongoing process that requires continual commitment and adaptation to the changing landscape of AI and work.

Depending on the size and needs of the organization, appointing a Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer (CAIO) can be a strategic move to ensure a secure and successful AI adoption.

He points out this role is becoming increasingly prominent, evident in companies like Accenture, Intel, IBM and Deloitte as CAIOs can efficiently spearhead the overhaul of outdated and manual procedures with AI, and establish ethical guidelines to ensure compliance across the organization.

“Ideally, CAIOs should possess a diverse range of skills, encompassing business acumen, technical expertise, and strong interpersonal skills,” Brenner explains. “They can play a critical role in defining the company’s AI strategy, leading the implementation of AI projects, and mitigating potential risks associated with ethics, compliance, and bias.”