People are ready to take instructions from robots at work. According to a new study, conducted by Oracle and Future Workplace – a research firm preparing leaders for disruptions in recruiting, development and employee engagement, there is a more positive attitude to robots than many might expect.
The study – of 1,320 U.S. HR leaders and employees – found that people are ready to embrace Artificial Intelligence (AI) at work and understand that the benefits go beyond automating manual processes. However, organisations are failing to do enough to help employees embrace AI. The study concludes this will result in reduced productivity, skillset obsolescence and job loss.
“As this study shows, people are not afraid of AI taking their jobs and instead want to be able to quickly and easily take advantage of the latest innovations,” said Emily He, SVP, Human Capital Management Cloud Business Group, Oracle.
“To help employees embrace AI, organizations should partner with their HR leaders to address the skill gap and focus their IT strategy on embedding simple and powerful AI innovations into existing business processes. AI will enable companies to stay competitive, HR leaders to be more strategic and employees to be more productive at work. If organizations want to take advantage of the AI revolution, while closing the skills gap, they will have to invest in AI training programs. If employees want to stay relevant to the current and future job market, they need to embrace AI as part of their job.”
The survey asked 1,320 people about their views regarding AI implementation and usage in the workplace. The study targeted HR leaders and employees who work across different sectors and in organizations of different sizes. All panelists passed a double opt-in process and completed, on average, 300 profiling data points prior to taking part in surveys.
Respondents identified reduced productivity, skillset obsolescence and job loss as the top three consequences of failing to embrace AI in the workforce.
From an organisational standpoint, respondents believed that embracing AI will have the most positive impact on directors and C-Suite executives. By failing to empower leadership teams with AI, organisations could lose competitive advantage.
The study–AI at Work–identified a large gap between the way people use AI at home and at work:
- 70% of people use some form of AI in their personal life
- 6% of HR professionals actively deploy AI
- 24% of employees are currently using some form of AI at work.
To determine why there is such a gap in AI adoption when people are clearly ready to embrace AI at work (93% say they would trust orders from a robot), the study examined HR leader and employee perceptions of:
- the benefits of AI
- the obstacles preventing AI adoption
- the business consequences of not embracing AI.
Both employees and HR leaders recognise AI’s potential
Respondents broadly agreed AI will have a positive impact on organisations. When asked about the biggest benefit of AI, HR leaders and employees both referenced increased productivity. In the next three years, employee respondents expect the benefits to include:
- improved operational efficiencies (59%)
- faster decision making (50%)
- reduced costs (45%)
- better customer experiences (40%)
- improved employee experiences (37%).
In contrast, HR leaders believe AI will positively:
- impact learning and development (27%)
- performance management (26%)
- compensation/payroll (18%)
- recruitment and employee benefits (13%).
Almost all (90%) of HR leaders worry they will not be able to adjust to the rapid adoption of AI as part of their own jobs. To make matters worse, they are not currently empowered to address the emerging AI skill gaps in their organisations. Some 72% (of HR leaders) noted their employer organisation does not provide any form of AI training program.
While more than 51% of employees share the concern they will not be able to adjust to the rapid adoption of AI, 71% believe AI skills and knowledge will be important in the next three years.
What does this mean
Despite a clear potential to improve business performance, HR leaders and employees both believe organisations are not doing sufficient to prepare the workforce for AI. Respondents identified a number of other barriers holding back AI in the enterprise.
Despite all the talk about people being worried about the AI or robot entrance into the workplace, this study found the opposite to be true with HR leaders and employees. The conclusion, believing a failure to adopt AI will have negative consequences on careers, colleagues and overall organization, is a striking one, so much so that Enterprise Times is inclined to parking these conclusions until additional supporting evidence emerges.