In a previous blog post, we discussed a couple of ways in which AI can benefit the experience of employees. As with everything, there are two sides to the story, and we'd be lying if we said there were no drawbacks to AI in the workplace. Indeed, we started our previous post on AI talking about ChatGPT and its potential impact on student essay writing. It doesn't take too big a leap in logic to understand there can be consequences for those in the workplace as well. Add onto this the recent call for AI research to pause from influential tech figures and its clear to see worries around AI do exist. Therefore, how could AI be harmful for employee experience?
Potential Job Loss
The most obvious and often-cited harmful effect is the potential loss of your job. Regardless of the physical and mental strain of this occurring, the worry of it isn't going to be an enjoyable experience for employees. The argument has been that by removing the more medial tasks, employees will have more time for important, billable work. Whilst this is a good idea at first glance, it's not difficult to see how the removal of 'medial' tasks could soon translate to using AI to replace jobs such as digital marketer, proofreader or content creator entirely. If AI can assist employees in writing social media posts, some organisations may see it as a reason to dismiss the role altogether. As we saw in our previous article, ChatGPT can write content, believed at times to be at a graduate level of discussion. It can also use someone's voice to accurate replicate it in any sentence and create images.
However, to dismiss the roles above for adoption of AI would be a risky move on the part of employers. AI lacks human accuracy and creativity. It's possible that this is something AI will improve with in time; for now, it seems AI lacks the fluidity of original language, most apparent when you hear its attempt to replicate verbal language. Right now, 73% of people distrust an AI-powered voice assistant. Despite this, AI can seem a more affordable option for organisations, as people's testimonies appears to confirm.
Potential Decrease in Willingness to Learn New Skills
Going back to our mention of ChatGPT and its ability to write content, the implications could stretch beyond the education sector and into the workplace. Generative AI, AI that can produce a wide variety of data including text and images, may discourage people from wanting to develop the skills covered by AI whilst still applying for the roles those skills are an integral part of. This may seem like a risky idea, but 'fake it till you make it' has been an endearing phrase to the point where this can seem possible. Needless to say, this ability to game the system creates an unfair situation for those who have spent years honing skills in areas that AI enables others to emulate .
Sense of Privacy Invasion
With the use of AI tools and our interaction with it comes the potential for AI to learn an uncomfortable amount of information about us. We see this in action with social media algorithms that monitor our behaviour online and tailor our live feed to suit the kind of interests the algorithm assumes us to like. For the kind of AI tools we may sign up to in the workplace, it isn't too much of a stretch to consider the kind of data the tool is gathering from our inputs to write e.g., social posts. This may create an uncomfortable barrier for some people who feel the tool knows too much about them. Whilst the vast majority of tools we see advertised are secure, it only takes some intelligent yet malicious actors to break into these tools and steal our data, or for a tool to sell our data to third parties, something they're well within their right to do if it's advertised upon signing up.
It is therefore important to understand what kind of tool you might be adopting. Understand that employees will get to know these tools and the ways in which the tool interacts with their data. There could become a sense of distrust surrounding the tool, perhaps compounded by the lack of trust people in general seem to have in AI at work. It may become an important part of experience management in the future, if not now, to discuss with employees how they feel about the use of AI tools in their department or organisation.
As with all impactful topics like these, there two sides to the story. In terms of education, it's clear to see the implications of AI on hindering the kinds of skills that those institutions not only promote but are designed to build. On the other hand, for people in the workforce with difficulties like dyslexia, AI can be seen as a 'godsend' in the creation of presentations, proposals, and social media posts, enabling those people and others to streamline the more admin-related side of work. On the other, many people see AI as something to be wary of, whether it be because of the implications it holds for their job, or general distrust. It seems likely that AI will impact our employee experience, now and moving forward, for better or worse depending on where you stand.
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Clarke, L. (2023) Alarmed tech leaders call for AI research pause, Science. Available at: https://www.science.org/content/article/alarmed-tech-leaders-call-ai-research-pause
Das, D. (2021) The state of Conversational AI and Consumer Trust, ThirdEye Data. Available at: https://thirdeyedata.ai/state-of-conversational-ai-and-consumer-trust/
Gillespie, N. et al. (2023) A survey of over 17,000 people indicates only half of us are willing to trust AI at work, Centre for Policy Futures - University of Queensland. Available at: https://policy-futures.centre.uq.edu.au/article/2023/03/survey-over-17000-people-indicates-only-half-us-are-willing-trust-ai-work
Tanner, C. (2023) ‘an absolute godsend’: Three entrepreneurs reveal how they use AI to boost their productivity, inews.co.uk. Available at: https://inews.co.uk/news/how-use-ai-boost-productivity-entrepreneurs-2328112