AI Generates Excitement and Fear as Employees Worry about Job Security
New research reveals a gap between executive, employee expectations for AI in the workplace
Nearly a quarter of employees believe their own jobs may be at risk because of AI
Last updated: June 13, 2023
PROVO, Utah & SEATTLE, June 13, 2023 – Even as artificial intelligence (AI) becomes an unavoidable part of the cultural landscape, its role in the workplace hasn’t been solidified, and that lack of clarity is leaving some employees on edge.
The speed at which generative pretrained transformer (GPT) technology attracted users was nearly unprecedented as people signed up to explore its potential. This speed has also led to challenges for business leaders who are racing to understand how their organizations can take advantage of this new technology. For example, fixing inefficient processes and technology can relieve symptoms of employee burnout.
New Qualtrics (Nasdaq: XM) research finds that, among workers, executives are most looking forward to the potential impact of AI, with 64% characterizing AI as exciting. Only 39% of individual contributors, on the other hand, say the potential impact of AI is exciting. They are more likely to say it’s scary (46%). In contrast, 30% of executives say it is scary.
Two-thirds of executives expect AI to have a positive impact on the overall employee experience; only 35% of individual contributors share that optimism, and 31% of individual contributors say AI will have a negative effect.
“The excitement among executives about AI is not surprising given the promise of more efficiency, but the concerns of employees are also well founded,” said Qualtrics Chief Workplace Psychologist Dr. Benjamin Granger. “Organizational leaders would be wise to remember that at their roots, organizations are simply groups of people and the bigger promise of AI is to help people be happier, healthier, and more productive at work – outcomes that benefit everyone.”
Increased Productivity, Increased Expectations
The most common ways employees say AI technology can have a positive impact in the workplace are related to productivity, including automating routine tasks so they can focus on more complex work, as well as the ability to do faster and more advanced data analysis.
With AI handling repetitive work, workers believe they will be expected to be more productive at work. In fact, 30% of executives say integrating AI into the workplace will significantly raise expectations for employee productivity.
The biggest concerns workers have about its impact are losing the human element to work (with 55% highlighting this as a potential negative effect) and workers losing their critical thinking skills (selected by 52% of employees).
Confusion and Concern about Policies and Job Security
The ultimate negative impact of AI on employees is it replacing jobs entirely. More than two-thirds of employees (68%) believe that some jobs are at risk because of AI, and 23% believe their own jobs are at risk.
As companies race to understand how they can incorporate AI, employees are feeling confused over what it means for them. Nearly 60% of employees say their company either doesn’t have a policy on using AI or they aren’t aware of such a policy, leaving them to try to figure out what is or isn’t allowed.
This research was conducted in May-June 2023 among more than 1,500 respondents. Respondents were selected from a randomized panel and considered eligible if they live in the United States, are at least 18 years of age and working full-time.
Qualtrics, the leader and creator of the experience management category, is a cloud-native software provider that helps organizations quickly identify and resolve points of friction across all digital and human touchpoints in their business – so they can retain their best customers and employees, protect their revenue, and drive profitability. More than 18,750 organizations around the world use Qualtrics’s advanced AI to listen, understand, and take action. Qualtrics uses its vast universe of experience data to form the largest database of human sentiment in the world. Qualtrics is co-headquartered in Provo, Utah and Seattle, and operates out of 28 offices globally. To learn more, please visit qualtrics.com.