UK workers support AI but want greater organizational transparency

New research from Asana shows that although UK workers are open to the opportunities that AI can bring to the workplace, a disconnect exists between organizational plans for the technology and the current employee experience.

The data is derived from a survey of 2,741 UK workers, carried out by Asana’s Work Innovation Lab, a think tank that carries out research to help businesses meet the demands of the evolving workplace.

According to the findings, AI’s role in helping companies meet objectives is recognized by workers, with 49% of surveyed employees confident that AI will help their companies reach their objectives more effectively than traditional methods of working.

With 40% of workers stating their organizations are currently experiencing high levels of burnout, 92% of those surveyed said they want AI to be used to enhance parts of their job. Notably, 61% of respondents approve of AI being used for development and training. Employees also highlighted AI usage for customer service interactions, decision making processes, and hiring processes, which had approval rates of 50%, 32%, and 26%, respectively.

However, there is a clear disconnect between what employees would like to see AI used for in the workplace and how it is currently being deployed.

A prime example highlighted by the survey is goal-setting. While  48% of respondents said they expect their companies to use AI for goal-setting, only 5% of UK employees say their organizations are currently doing so.

Employees also said  they wanted to know more about how their company intends to use the technology, with only 30% of respondents believing they currently have transparency into  their organization’s AI plans. This contrasts with the 39% of executives who said they believed they had been transparent when laying out their plans.

AI is also starting to play a role in career planning for UK workers, with the research highlighting a number of career-related considerations. Among them, 56% of those surveyed said they would be more likely to consider working for an organization that was transparent about its use of AI, while 44% said a company taking a human-centric approach to the technology was important. If an organization offers training on AI, that would appeal to 40% of respondents.

Instead of asking ourselves how AI will change our work, we should be asking ourselves how we as humans can positively shape that change, said Rebecca Hinds, head of the Work Innovation Lab, at a roundtable event last week.

“AI holds enormous power because of its complexity and sophistication, but in order to harness the promise and the potential of AI in our workplace we need to adopt a deeply human approach,” Hinds said. “Decades of research show that the implementation of new technology fails in most cases not because the technology isn’t efficient, but because humans naturally resist change.”

When it comes to making a success of AI in the workplace, Hinds said the organizations need to prioritize change management, upskilling and reskilling, and experimentation and allow their workers to commit time to familiarize themselves with these news tools.

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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