Wed. May 29th, 2024

Most workers say AI will lead to their career growth and promotion, and nearly half are excited … [+] about AI in the workplace

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While AI is often portrayed as a threat to people’s livelihood, this technology is actually drumming up considerable excitement, especially as workers realize the potential benefit it can bring to their current job and their careers. A positive view of generative and other artificial intelligence is especially high among younger workers, many of whom are already leveraging it day to day in their jobs. Even so, is the world ready for a future of work reinvented by rapidly evolving AI?

There is strong evidence this will be the case. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs Report, three-quarters of the world’s leading companies expect to adopt AI in their organization, and 50% believe it will spur job growth while just 25% say jobs will be lost. Already, the technology is being widely adopted in healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture and recruitment.

Employers’ net positive view of AI’s impact on the labor market is shared by a majority of people that we surveyed in our latest Workmonitor Pulse research. Conducted in the third quarter of this year, the research aimed to understand how people viewed AI and its impact on their jobs, careers and future. It turns out there is quite a bit of excitement and optimism accompanied by some trepidation.

More than half say AI will lead to their own career growth and promotion, and nearly as many (47%) are excited about the prospect of AI in the workplace, compared with just 39% who are worried about job loss. About one-third are already using some kind of form of AI at work while more than half (53%) say this technology will eventually affect their industry and job.

Focusing on developing AI skills

While it’s encouraging to see people are excited and ready to unleash the potential of AI to benefit their work and careers, what’s less assuring is employers’ ability to help workers adapt. Our survey revealed that nearly one-quarter (22%) say they wanted learning and development support to use AI, but just 13% reported receiving it during the past 12 months. Even more concerning is that blue collar workers are least likely to be reskilled, with 41% left out of any form of training and development, compared with 20% for white collar counterparts.

Throughout 20 years of Workmonitor research, we’ve found that talent consistently wants more learning and development opportunities to help them stay relevant in the labor market. As more companies invest in this technology, this desire is ratcheting up, but employers seem to still lag in their response.

AI isn’t some theoretical, distant technology we can put off preparations for; it’s proliferating throughout the global economy today. It will affect everyone’s jobs eventually, even those we least expect it. I believe the potential for technology to change the future of work is limitless. One group of researchers already predicts that as much as 80% of the U.S. workforce could have at least 10% of their work affected by the introduction of Large Language Modules, and 19% of workers may see at least half of their tasks impacted.

Our data shows that companies aren’t meeting the skilling needs of their workforce when it comes to technology enablement. Additionally, universities and other higher learning institutions aren’t keeping up with the needs of students. One survey of higher education administrators shows that demand for AI training is outpacing supply and the current ability of higher education institutions to meet these needs.

Three imperatives to get AI right in the workplace

So how can we help people overcome their AI anxiety and give them the know-how to thrive in a reimagined world of work? Successful AI adoption requires more than just learning and development. People need encouragement, the freedom to find new and better ways of working and, of course, technical competencies to use new tools and processes. To achieve this, consider focusing on these three areas during the transition to the new AI age.

Support the change process. Helping people to adapt may be nearly as important as giving them the skills to use AI. Without clearly explaining why their organization is changing how work gets done or what’s expected of them during this transition can be unsettling. What companies must do is be transparent about their intentions, provide a roadmap, and set a period of adjustment.
Invest in a skilling strategy. Many organizations are rushing to invest in AI technology, but they are doing so without clearly comprehending the requirements for people development. For instance, AI can reduce or eliminate repetitive, low-value work to enable workers to focus on higher value activities. Teaching them to do this will optimize technology investments and improve adoption.
Create talent feedback loops. As AI helps to redefine work, feedback from the people who actively use it can provide critical feedback. Regularly surveying users and managers and leveraging this insight will lead to the best output. Furthermore, buy-in from the workforce is highest when employees feel they have a say and control over the use of AI powered tools.

AI might feel threatening to some people, but with effective change management and reskilling, employers can help their workers successfully adapt and future-proof their careers by becoming power users of the latest technology to reshape the future of work.

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