Study: Most Employees Regard AI as Co-worker, Not a Job Threat

In a new MIT Sloan Management Review and Boston Consulting Group Research study, it found that organizations are far more likely to derive value from AI (artificial intelligence) when their workers do so as well. What do you know? Workers and AI can co-exist.

In the research, the research provides 5 key takeaways on achieving individual and organizational value with AI: 

1. A majority of individual workers personally obtain value from AI. Sixty-four percent of survey respondents personally derive at least moderate value from using AI. These workers are 3.4 times as likely to be more satisfied in their jobs as employees who do not get value from AI. 

2. A majority of individuals regard AI as a coworker, not a job threat. A surprising number of respondents (60%) feel that AI tools are like a coworker — not the response you might expect about AI systems that, according to some media hype, will displace these workers. 

3. Requiring individuals to use AI encourages its use more than building trust in AI does. Not surprisingly, making AI use mandatory and building trust in AI both increase the likelihood that individuals will, in fact, regularly use AI. But building trust in AI only doubles the likelihood that individuals will use AI regularly, while mandating its use triples the likelihood. 

4. Mandatory use, despite seeming oppressive, still leads to individual value. Requiring AI might lead to begrudging use, but individuals are 1.4 times as likely to get value from AI when organizations require them to use it compared with individuals at organizations that do not mandate its use. 

5. Organizations get value when individuals get value, not at the expense of individual value. Among respondents who report that their organization obtains moderate, significant, or extensive value from AI, the vast majority (85%) claim that they personally obtain value from AI. 

It is surprising that 60% of employees view AI as a coworker and not a job threat, even if many believe that organizations derive value from AI at the expense of the individuals they employ, and that AI-powered automation can lead to the displacement of workers.

Global mobility professionals and organizations with employees who glean value from AI are 5.9 times as likely to see particular financial benefits from it than organizations where employees do not get value from AI, according to the joint report.

The report’s coverage 

The report, “Achieving Individual — and Organizational — Value With AI,” is a result of the sixth annual research effort between MIT SMR and BCG on AI and business strategy. The results include a global survey of 1,741 managers and interviews with 17 executives spanning more than 100 countries and 20 industries on the use of AI at work. 

People reportedly derive personal value from AI when using the technology improves their self-determination, which includes their competency, autonomy, and relatedness.

What people may not be aware of if they say they don’t use AI or only minimally is the fact that not many know AI’s reach. From office productivity applications and calendar schedulers to customer relationship management software, 43% of the respondents acknowledge that they actually use business products with AI.

François Candelon, global director of the BCG Henderson Institute and coauthor of the report, claimed that in its research, employees using AI knowingly are 1.6 times more likely to get individual value and 1.8 times more likely to be pleased with their jobs than those who do not realize they use AI.

To overcome resistance, mandating the use of AI has become imperative. Managers, it said, can boost regular use of AI.  

“Trust is just one factor driving AI adoption: Being required to use it. Seeing your boss use it. Having the ability to override it. These all contribute to adoption, especially at the early stages of AI deployments,” noted David Kiron, MIT SMR editorial director, research, and coauthor of the report.

Some companies are opposed to use of AI

A Wharton professor has also said companies should try to encourage employees to share how they’re using AI to increase their personal productivity – rather than ban the tech and force them to hide it. Indeed, some companies plan to introduce strict bans over privacy and legal fears. Samsung did a few months ago. 

Some of the arguments point out how generative AI “hallucinates” facts, which are worrying for large companies, says Ethan Mollick, a management professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in his blog post.

But it doesn’t deter employees who are constantly using AI to boost their productivity and cut their workloads, if not maintain more than one job. However, employees aren’t sharing their discoveries with their superiors for fear of getting in trouble, according to Mollick.