Artificial intelligence is showing no signs of slowing down – it will soon touch nearly every part of how business is conducted. In order for AI implementation to be successful, employers must follow a few key steps in order to make the transition as smooth as possible and get employees comfortable with this new technology.
The workplace is evolving. No matter the industry, artificial intelligence (AI) will soon touch nearly every part of how we conduct business. How employers adapt to this ongoing evolution of technology in the workplace can impact everything from operations and recruiting to a business’ bottom line. With more than 80 percent of enterprises using some form of AI, it’s a technological advancement that is showing no signs of slowing. From internal operations to customer engagement, understanding how to interact with this technology is critical to being an effective and competitive worker — and employer — today.
With Gen Z now entering the working world, younger generations are starting to tip the scales of the American workforce. Pew Research Center reported that while the younger workforce is growing rapidly, older generations are maintaining employment for longer, meaning a generational collide is happening in working environments across the globe. Employees with vastly different backgrounds, particularly in technical aptitude, are expected to navigate the changing landscape at the same level.
One of the biggest challenges? Getting these employees to understand how to work with artificial intelligence.
In order for your staff to be comfortable utilizing artificial intelligence, employers must follow three key steps to successfully onboard employees for AI in the office, regardless of background or skill set.
1. Bridge the AI education gap
When implementing AI for your business that requires either employee engagement or a customer-facing experience, employee education and comprehension is critical to successful deployment. “AI” can carry a level of intimidation with it, so it’s important to remind people that it’s AI that helped Amazon recommend the great spy novel they just finished, and AI that Netflix relied on to recommend their new guilty binge pleasure.
With any new technology, there will be a learning curve as employees explore working with AI. Employers need to prioritize the investment and make AI onboarding accessible through tools, training, and resources that foster smooth implementation. Artificial intelligence can be like a virtual teammate, handling new employee onboarding and everyday questions that can slow down individual workflow. It can be the front line for questions that everyone across the org asks, like, “How do I add a new dependent to my health insurance,” “Where do I find my 2017 review,” or, “What holidays do we have off this year?” Imagine any question that is asked by one colleague to another instead being asked of a virtual teammate first — and how much time that would free up for employers to focus on the work that really matters.
While training (or even re-training) today’s workforce on how to work with AI takes resources, it delivers huge returns on the investment. Employees gain valuable skills for their personal development and become more efficient and valuable to the company. In order for AI to be successful in the workplace, everyone needs to be on board.
2. Demonstrate the value of AI
Getting employees comfortable with AI also means calming any misguided fears of a “robot takeover.” Team members need to view AI as a workplace asset that allows them to work better, not as a threat to their job security. Rather than replacing employees, AI actually allows team members to be more productive in their workday by offloading mundane tasks, streamlining workflows and removing redundancies from processes and administrative work. Today, employees switch apps more than 1,100 times a day. A recent study predicts that AI workplace implementations can increase labor productivity by up to 40 percent.
While necessary to the success of a company, administrative tasks, onboarding processes, zero-level IT and customer support create an unintentional pain point for businesses and their employees, resulting in significant time and resource loss. We’ve all had a soul-crushing moment where we can’t find the one thing we need to complete a simple task at work. AI tools can alleviate that universal pain point, allowing employees to focus on more valuable, high-level work.
There’s also the broader business value to consider. The link between the revenue growth and AI maturity of business is clear, with 76 percent of business leaders recently noting AI as a fundamental strategy to their organization’s overall success. AI is good for business and for employees.
3. Encourage employee engagement
Employers need to demonstrate how AI and employees can work together to drive a more fulfilling and productive work environment. Various forms of AI, like machine learning, source and identify patterns that are flagged to a human counterpart to analyze and take action. This could be anything from anomalies in data patterns that lead to flaws in operational systems to trends in customer relationship management software.
Human insights are critical to truly taking advantage of the benefits of AI in an organization. For example, a chatbot tool like Jane.ai mines information across a workplace’s entire database — documents, email, and applications — to surface near-instant information for employees. While the tool adapts and learns over time, part of its success depends on employee engagement where team members “teach” Jane by inputting information not found in the company database that is then stored in her memory from that point on. While machines will continue to advance and likely be able to mimic cognitive function in the future, the human element — creativity, ingenuity, instinct — will always play an important role in the overall success of its implementation.
And the AI doesn’t just make business run more smoothly. The idea is to create a virtual teammate that helps with all aspects of work-life’s questions — from, “When does open enrollment start,” to, “Who’s the best photographer in the office,” and even, “Where are the coffee filters?”
AI technology presents so many opportunities for the modern workforce, and employee support is key to its success. 79 percent of HR leaders and 60 percent of employees believe a failure to adopt AI will have negative consequences on their own careers, colleagues, and overall organization. Stated more simply: people and companies who adopt AI will thrive; those who don’t are sure to fall behind.
Successful AI implementation, for any company regardless of industry, requires that employers invest in employee education and that team members understand the value of AI and engage with it to improve it over time. That value is fully realized when AI can do the mundane tasks that workers don’t want to do, enabling people and teams to focus on what only humans can do: create and innovate.