Most Workers See AI as a Colleague, Not a Threat

Punch Card

A majority of employees (60%) see artificial intelligence as a co-worker as opposed to a job threat, challenging the contention that businesses get value from AI at the expense of their employees. 

These are among the findings of a new research report by the MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group. The study includes a global survey of 1,741 managers and interviews with 17 executives from over over 100 countries and 20 industries. 

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According to the report, employees get personal value from AI “when using the technology improves their self-determination, which encompasses their competency, autonomy and relatedness.” 

Pervasive AI 

While the use of AI is pervasive, many people do not know they are already using it, the study found. For instance, 66% of individuals surveyed for the study reported not using AI or only using it minimally. However, when prompted with specific examples of AI-enhanced business applications — such as office productivity applications, calendar schedulers and customer relationship management software — almost half (or 43%) acknowledged that they regularly or sometimes use products that incorporate AI.  

François Candelon, global director of the BCG Henderson Institute and a co-author of the report, explained that when individuals do not know that they are using AI, they naturally have a harder time recognizing its value. “But our research shows that employees using AI knowingly are 1.6 times more likely to get individual value and 1.8 times more likely to be satisfied with their jobs than those who do not realize they use AI,” she said. 

Fighting AI Resistance 

According to the report, mandating the use of AI in the workplace is critical to overcoming worker resistance to the technology. This is because employees required to use AI are three times as likely to regularly use the technology as those not required to do so professionally, the study said. 

However, managers still need to give their employees a sense of control over AI usage, and also lead by example by using the AI themselves.

“Trust is just one factor driving AI adoption,” said David Kiron, MIT SMR editorial director and co-author of the report. “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,” . 

AI and Job Satisfaction 

Meanwhile, the report found that only a slight number (8%) of its global respondents are less satisfied with their jobs as a result of embracing AI. A majority (64%) of workers acknowledged that they derived at least moderate value from its use. 

“The survey revealed that many respondents think that using AI has improved interactions with their team members (56%), with their managers (47%) and with other people in their departments (52%), in addition to helping them feel more capable in their job performance,” the study said.

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