The rapidly growing popularity of ChatGPT and other generative AI applications has the potential to create a workplace revolution, but its adoption is also a cause of concern among workers.
These were among the results of a ResumeGenius survey of 1,000 employees, which found 69% of workers fear losing their job due to the growth of AI and nearly three-quarters (74%) predict that AI technology will make human workers obsolete.
The study found IT, manufacturing and healthcare are the industries considered most at risk of being replaced by AI technology.
Despite the concerns, 75% of survey respondents said they felt positive about using AI at work, while 21% remained neutral and just 4% viewed it negatively.
Agata Szczepanek, job search expert at Resume Genius, says the growing popularity of AI goes hand in hand with growing fears of its consequences, which is normal.
“Sometimes it gets too far, though–many people believe that AI will make human employees obsolete, and that’s a huge misconception,” she says. “This scenario will never happen.”
She explains although automation is inevitable and AI continues to transform the workplace, these are humans who design, implement, and regulate machines.
“Many jobs require qualities that cannot be trained or programmed,” she notes. “They include a deep understanding of human emotion, complex decision-making, empathy, and many more.”
While AI technology is likely to bring revolution to the labor market, Szczepanek says there’s no need to tremble with fear at the thought that human employees won’t be needed one day.
Eilon Reshef, co-founder and chief product officer of Gong, agrees there will always be a need for a human element when it comes to generative AI tools.
“Instead of replacing jobs, we like to think of generative AI as having the ability to augment the jobs done by humans,” he says. “As generative AI tools advance, we’re likely to see implementations that minimize some of the admin work, analyze customer interactions and data, and provide strategic recommendations based on a deep understanding of customer nuances and attitudes.”
Reshef advises to stay ahead as generative AI enters the workplace, people should home in on the strategic skill sets required and that you’ve already been doing within their role.
“Generative AI will continue to automate tasks and free up bandwidth for workers across varying industries,” he says. “It will become increasingly important to be an expert in areas where generative AI isn’t yet, such as understanding of nuance and strategy.”
He admits many employees are unclear on how generative AI will impact their jobs.
“For the organizations considering adoption, it would be beneficial to inform employees of the best practices for leveraging AI, as well as a breakdown of how leaders plan to utilize the tools within their business to augment what workers are already doing,” Reshef says.
Before adopting any form of generative AI, leaders should first ask themselves if and how it can be utilized within areas of their organization.
This involves considerations of business sectors where generative AI can automate tasks that will ultimately save people time without lowering the value or impacting the customer.
“Organizations should determine whether implementing generative AI can streamline business processes to drive new efficiencies or boost bottom lines at a time when companies are feeling the pressure of economic uncertainty,” Reshef says.
Cristina Fonseca, vice president of product at Zendesk, points out that in customer experience (CX), the extension of AI service will no doubt mean that the majority of customer interactions – especially repetitive ones like a return – will eventually be automated with AI.
“However, that does not mean that agents’ roles and jobs will be eliminated,” she says. “Rather, the jobs of these agents will evolve to become more personalized, where an agent will be empowered to take a more nuanced, emotionally grounded approach to dealing with customers on a one-to-one basis.”
From her perspective, ChatGPT will allow people to be more productive in the workplace, and specifically for the CX industry, agents will benefit from eliminating much of the manual workload that can be low value, repetitive and incredibly time consuming.
“Leaders should focus on leveraging AI as a tool that’s a value-add to employees’ jobs, especially as roles for CX agents evolve to perform more supervisory functions,” she says. “Humans are critical to be kept in the loop, supervising AI to ensure its responsible and ethical, and to mitigate CX specific risks to ensure customers have a great experience.”
Szczepanek notes the labor market is a fast-changing picture, and the key is to stay flexible and adaptable.
“As AI-powered tools are getting more and more popular, managers should talk openly with employees about using them,” she says. “Together they can establish some best practices and find ways to get the most out of AI technology in their workplace.”
She says when used wisely and ethically, AI technology can boost productivity, provide a smooth workflow, and lower employees’ stress levels.
“In other words, it helps us work better and faster,” she says. “On the other hand, there’s always a risk that people will use AI to avoid doing their job duties. It’s also crucial to remember that we cannot trust machines always and completely.”