AI is not coming for your job. But it will make it better

Barry Murphy, Vice President GTM - Cloud, Applications & Infrastructure, Unisys, explains how business leaders can reassure workforces that AI will enhance their jobs, not replace them.  “Artificial intelligence will outsmart humans, resolve all IT and business problems, and humans will not be needed in the workforce!” These are some of the most common misconceptions that too many companies and workforces currently have around AI and automation. To date, workforces have been inclined to broach AI with apprehension due to concerns that it will negatively affect or eliminate their jobs. Conversations have skewed towards the technology as a disruptive force, here to steal jobs and ultimately leave people redundant. A study found that 60 percent of workers are concerned about job loss in regards to working with Gen AI. Additionally, a further third worried that,  despite AI being unable to completely  replace them, it could make them less useful in the workplace.

It’s becoming increasingly important that business leaders not only tune out this noise , but proactively communicate how AI can do more than co-exist with their workforce. Enhancing their team’s skills will enable them to play far more valuable roles,  providing increased levels of efficiency and impact for their companies. With this in mind, it is important to outline how senior leaders can communicate and reassure workforces of the next wave of changes that AI will enable.


Common Misconceptions around AI in the workplace

AI is set to be the most disruptive innovation tool of our generation. There’s been so much anticipation around its potential as a business game changer, but this speculation has caused a lot of unease for the modern-day workforce. By and large, this is because, despite the hype, there’s still a lack of education around AI – particularly when it comes to its relationship with current and future workforces. It’s understandable that this has created a fear of the unknown among employees in nearly every business sector.

According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics, in January 2024, only 1 in 6 adults reported they were even able to recognise when they were using AI. With awareness levels  this low, the topic has easily been subjected to technological myths and misconceptions. You can often see this play out in news headlines which can have you thinking the entirety of the human workforce will be replaced.

But this is one of AI’s biggest myths.

While AI is capable of automating many manual tasks (and is becoming very good), it is a long way from replacing humans. Of course, some jobs could be at risk, the vast majority of deployments will be to augment and complement human capabilities, not to replace them.

Business leaders therefore need to position AI as a productivity tool. What is happening is a technological revolution in which specific manual tasks are being replaced or enhanced, making way for a new kind of more creative, strategic work.

Another business tool

It’s also important to acknowledge AI for what it is. Despite the hype, it is still another technology, one that has been created to help businesses drive efficiencies. In a similar way employees view Microsoft Office; AI is a digital tool that must be mastered for employees to be able to effectively do their jobs. We don’t fear Microsoft Word, we see it as an integral tool to getting our jobs done. Re-educating and re-skilling employees to think the same about AI will allow for industry-wide development and grant us the ability to enhance many aspects of our jobs and daily work routines.

With the right training, projects and reports that took hours to compile, can now be generated within minutes, freeing up space for us to invest our time and effort into more rewarding components of our jobs. For comparison, when applications like Microsoft Excel were first introduced, an accountant would no longer manually calculate equations on a spreadsheet when the software program could do that for them. In principle, AI will have a similar effect.


Humans stay in charge

In this sense, it’s crucial to understand that employees control AI and not vice versa – there always need to be a human-in-the-loop. AI technology uses a large repository of data from external sources on the web to provide us with the best generated responses and templates that we can then use at work. This is where AI prompting comes in. Despite common misconceptions, AI isn’t omnipotent. It needs to be trained and told what to search for, so it is consistently learning based on our requests.

With this, we can increase workplace efficiency and ease the burden of workplace burnout, prioritising higher value tasks that are key to progression. A survey by Microsoft showed that 70% of workers hope to delegate as much work as possible to AI to lessen their workloads.

This increased level of efficiency won’t only benefit the workforce but will trickle through to customers, enabling better experiences and higher satisfaction rates, which will generate better relationships, repeat purchases and larger returns on investment.


Considering how AI can enhance the business, and the steps to implementation. 

 As Economist Richard Baldwin said at last year’s World Economic Forum’s Growth Summit, “AI won’t take your job. It’s somebody using AI that will take your job.” So, business leaders need to pivot the conversation to showing employees how they can thrive if they master AI.

A strong starting point is looking at how your organisation can roll out a rapid implementation framework for adopting standards and using ethical guidelines to really establish an AI sense of excellence and control. Once employees have AI-driven goals woven into their performance, they’ll have more inkling to use the technology, and will truly benefit from freeing up their own capacity to take on more strategic work that can grow and add value to the business.

For those still in the early stages of adoption, or perhaps anyone wanting to train themselves up on AI before a deployment, there are also many methods (both free and paid) which can be used to immerse yourself in the technology, such as exploring automated chatbots like ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot.

Ultimately, it’s important for business leaders to lead with the following formula: better employee experiences = better productivity = better customer experiences = better business performance. By positioning AI as a tool that will improve the professional life of your employees, you will be setting the foundations for continued growth and success.


Our attitudes to the Future of AI
Overall, it’s important that enterprise leaders block out the doom and gloom noise that regards AI as a job taker, and instead invest time and energy into focusing on how AI will enable workforces to play far more impactful and creative roles, and ultimately provide more value for their companies.

As with any new technology, these early versions of AI, as sophisticated as they seem now, are actually the ‘worst’ that we will ever experience. Meaning that there is only space for the tech to further improve and develop. While none of us truly knows what the future of AI holds for the workforce, the best way to thrive will be to position ourselves as experts who can harness its rich benefits and ever-growing capabilities for true business gain.

Image: Copilot