As U.S. workplaces increasingly implement AI, the specter of job loss looms. As the former president of Google China said recently, “Predicting the scale of AI-induced job losses has become a cottage industry for economists and consulting firms the world over. Depending on which model one uses, estimates range from terrifying to totally not a problem.”
Two opinion surveys sponsored by Genesys that examined the attitudes to the adoption of AI in the workplace in six countries—the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand—reveal that employer and employee fears of job loss as a result of AI implementation vary widely.
By 2022, 60% of U.S. companies expect to be using AI or advanced automation to support efficiency in operations, staffing, budgeting or performance. Currently, 24% of companies are using AI or advanced automation with an additional 36% planning to use it within three years—and half of those (18%) within the next year alone.
Regardless of the age of their organization, the U.S. employers surveyed believe AI makes their companies more effective. Specifically, 32% of employers find it enables companies to achieve goals faster, more effectively and at a lower cost. An additional 25% believe AI allows employees to become more productive and to feel more valuable. That said, even with a totally positive response among 57% of employers, their enthusiasm for new workplace technology tools such as AI and bots is surpassed by that of their employees, 70% of whom voiced a positive attitude toward AI in the earlier Genesys survey of employees.
But AI is not for every workplace. Nearly a third (31%) of employer survey respondents do not feel AI or advanced automation is practical for their type of business. The exact same percentage wonder if AI is too complex to implement.
How leadership feels about AI
Luckily for technology vendors, 40% of employers say there is no hesitation within their companies about the need to adopt new technologies such as AI, bots or augmented reality. Their leadership realizes it makes the business more efficient. There is some concern within 24% of employers about the cost of adopting new technologies, but only 13% of the survey pool, mostly employers with younger companies, are suspicious that the usefulness of AI is over-hyped.
Currently, 47% of the employers surveyed think AI will have a positive impact on their company within the next year, with a mere 5% predicting a negative impact. Looking five years ahead to 2024, 62% of employers believe AI’s positive impact on their companies will continue, while the negative has only increased by 2%, to 7%. AI is seen by 26% of employers as necessary for their companies to remain competitive in the future. In addition, U.S. employers recognize that AI is changing their employees’ lives. In fact, almost two-thirds (64%) of the U.S. employers surveyed think their employees are excited to have better, AI-enabled technology tools because it assists them in their jobs.
“The survey results serve as another proof point that businesses win big when they deploy automation and AI-assisted technologies—and so do employees,” said Merijn te Booij, chief marketing officer for Genesys. “Our research shows 61% of employers believe workers are more fulfilled when their workplace adopts AI because it allows them to take on more challenging tasks. When AI moves rote, mundane duties off employees’ plates, they have more time to focus on what they’re best at—work that’s more interesting, diverse and requires more complex problem-solving.”
The future of jobs
There’s a definite disconnect between U.S. employers and their employees when discussing “fear of the bot.” According to the Genesys research, employers believe employees are more concerned than they really are. Are employers seeing a specter that doesn’t exist, or do employees have their heads in the sand?
- 42% of U.S. employers believe employees are scared of AI/bots because of potential job elimination. Due to the perceived risk to jobs, 8% of employers say they would like to avoid the adoption of AI/bots in their companies.
- 67% of U.S. employee respondents in an earlier Genesys survey said they are not afraid that AI/bots would eliminate their jobs within the next 10 years while just 19% are fearful.
- 50% of the U.S. employers surveyed say the adoption of AI will not cause them to reduce their workforce.
- 30% of the U.S. employers surveyed anticipate workforce cuts due to AI adoption but 53% don’t expect major staffing changes.
- 36% of U.S. employers surveyed see a positive impact of AI on their employees in the next year with the number jumping to 53% when questioned about five years in the future.
- 32% of U.S. employees surveyed anticipate a positive impact from AI on their jobs in five years.