Why Employers Must Tread Carefully When Implementing AI

5 Meeting

The wild card in the adoption of AI-based tools isn’t budgets, workable specifications or learning. It’s the worker.

Even though companies are trying to make employees’ lives easier when they implement advanced technology, they often find that workers don’t like, trust or even use the solutions that they offer up.

The Wall Street Journal says the algorithms that drive AI are intended to streamline workers’ jobs, cut costs and allow the workforce to get more done in less time. But as they begin to deploy these solutions, many companies discover they have expert workers who don’t trust the technology.

Given all of the excitement that’s been generated by the likes of ChatGPT and Google Bard, it’s not surprising that a number of businesses are adopting AI to their own needs. Already, 80% of U.S. workers have at least 10% of their tasks affected by AI solutions, according to a study by the University of Pennsylvania and OpenAI.

Getting to Know You

Executives say employees need time to get used to working with AI solutions, and should be given plenty of opportunities to provide feedback. While over time, AI and its functionality will get better, the early phases of implementation and deployment may be bumpy. As one executive told the Journal: “It takes time.”

That means businesses should take a consultative path with employees from the beginning, not when their process is well underway. “That’s where some of the bad blood is created, and why workers tend to distrust employers and distrust the technology that they’re using,” said a union executive.

Empathy is a part of that equation. Some companies discovered that employees aren’t following AI’s recommendations when it came to, say, stocking shelves or preparing food items.

The executive said he understood their point of view. “…my AI engineers are not the ones dealing with angry [customers],” the executive said.

Employees also need a sense of ownership, the Journal said. At some companies, workers have the ability to change the AI’s recommendations, though an executive said they’re doing so “much less frequently than they used to.”

“My expectation is the very experienced people are going to feel like they know better than the tool,” another leader told the Journal. On the other hand, employees with less experience will tend to follow the tool carefully, “and therefore [AI] still creates benefits for the company.”

Image: iStock

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