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Robot managers get thumbs up from workers but HR not ready for AI

Increasing use of artificial intelligence-based products and services in their home life means people are ready to embrace AI at work. But organisations and HR professionals are no way near ready to help employees to do so

Robot manager

Are you ready to be managed by a robot? If your answer is yes, then you are among the 93% of employees who say they would trust instructions from a robot at work.

According to a study of 1,320 HR leaders and employees in the United States, employees are far from thinking that artificial intelligence (AI) will lead to a dystopian working world characterised by job losses, insecurity and ‘robot armies’. Instead they think AI will be positive for organisations and are ready to embrace it, understanding that the benefits go far beyond automating manual processes.

Employees expect AI to increase productivity over the next three years through improving operational efficiencies (59%), enabling faster decision making (50%), significantly reducing cost (45%), enabling better customer experiences (40%) and improving the employee experience (37%).

Not embracing AI now will result in job loss, irrelevance and loss of competitive advantage

HR leaders too expect AI to increase productivity and believe it will positively impact learning and development (27%), performance management (26%), compensation/payroll (18%) and recruiting and employee benefits (13%).

However, the study AI at Work, by research firm Future Workplace and technology provider Oracle finds that, while 70% of people are now using some form of AI in their personal life, only 24% of employees are currently using some form of AI at work and only 6% of HR professionals are actively deploying AI.

In addition, almost all HR leaders (90%) are concerned they will not be able to adjust to the rapid adoption of AI as part of their job. To make matters worse, they say they are not empowered to address an emerging AI skill gap in their organisation.

Seven in 10 employees believe AI skills and knowledge will be important in the next three years. What’s holding them back?

HR leaders and employees recognise that organisations are not doing enough to help their employees embrace AI and that will result in reduced productivity, skillset obsolescence and job loss. More than half of employees (51%) are concerned they will not be able to adjust to the rapid adoption of AI and 71% believe AI skills and knowledge will be important in the next three years. But…

•  72% of HR leaders noted their organisation does not provide any form of AI training

• 74% say cost is a barrier to adoption

• Failure of technology is cited by 69% as holding back AI

• Security risks are seen by 56% as a major barrier

Both HR leaders and employees believe a failure to adopt AI will have a negative consequence on their careers, colleagues and organisations. More than three-quarters (79%) of HR leaders and 69% of employees expect reduced productivity, skillset obsolescence and job loss if AI is not adopted.

Leadership and the c-suite were seen as most likely to gain a positive impact from AI in the workplace. If leadership teams are not empowered with AI, organisations were seen as likely to lose competitive advantage.

Dan Schawbel, research director at Future Workplace and author of Back to Human, says organisations and employees need to step up and embrace AI.

“AI will enable companies to stay competitive, HR leaders to be more strategic and employees to be more productive at work. If organisations want to take advantage of the AI revolution, while closing the skills gap, they will have to invest in AI training programmes. If employees want to stay relevant to the current and future job market, they need to embrace AI as part of their job,” he says.

For AI in Work, 1,320 HR Leaders and employees were asked 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 organisations of different sizes. All panellists have passed a double opt-in process and completed on average 300 profiling data points prior to taking part in surveys.

Published 25 July 2018. Are you ready for an AI workplace? Join our PeopleSpaceLeaders network to help you get prepared www.peoplespaceleaders.com

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