Rising AI Usage Sparks Employee Anxiety

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The increasing adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in the business landscape is raising concerns and anxiety among employees about their future roles. Recent research indicates that nearly 2 out of every 5 workers (38%) fear that AI might render some or all of their job responsibilities obsolete in the future, as revealed by the American Psychological Association’s 2023 Work in America Survey.

To delve deeper into this issue, Forbes recently interviewed Dan Diasio, EY’s Global Artificial Intelligence (AI) Consulting Leader. With a focus on supporting AI-enabled business transformation, Diasio provided insights into the findings of EY’s AI Anxiety in Business Survey.

Survey Motivation and Key Findings

Diasio explained that EY’s decision to conduct the survey stemmed from the widespread excitement surrounding Generative AI (GenAI) in 2023. However, there was a noticeable disconnect between leaders’ enthusiasm for AI adoption and employees’ apprehensions. Recognising the importance of understanding the full spectrum of AI integration challenges, EY aimed to uncover the impact of AI on the workforce and identify potential barriers hindering its adoption.

The survey, based on responses from 1,000 employed US workers familiar with AI, revealed several key insights:

Government Regulation: Surprisingly, 78% of employees expressed the need for increased government regulation of AI. This sentiment was consistent across both AI-trusting and sceptical respondents.

Generational Differences: Gen Z workers exhibited a higher level of scepticism compared to Millennials and Gen X. Despite being digital natives, Gen Z employees were less convinced about the benefits of AI in improving efficiency.

Addressing Employee Concerns: Strategies for Business Leaders

Diasio emphasised the importance of human-centred design in AI integration to alleviate employee anxiety. He outlined several strategies for business leaders to overcome AI-related concerns:

Education: Providing comprehensive training programs is crucial, with 80% of respondents expressing the need for more upskilling opportunities.

Transparency: Leaders should promote responsible and ethical AI practices through transparent communication, fostering employee trust and confidence in AI technologies.

Communication: Involving employees at all levels in the AI adoption process and addressing their opinions and concerns can enhance acceptance and integration.

Future Outlook: Scaling AI Adoption

Looking ahead, Diasio anticipates a focus on scaling AI adoption in 2024. Organisations are expected to strategically deploy AI solutions to transform workflows and drive efficiency. However, ensuring employee readiness and addressing ethical considerations will remain paramount for successful AI integration.

Preparing for the Future: Building the Workforce of Tomorrow

Diasio stressed the need for organisations to reimagine workflows and empower employees to navigate the evolving AI landscape. Meaningful communication, upskilling programs, and transparency are essential for fostering a culture of trust and embracing AI technologies effectively.

As AI continues to reshape the business world, proactive measures to address employee concerns and ensure responsible AI deployment will be critical for long-term success. With the right approach, organisations can harness the transformative power of AI while supporting their workforce through the transition.