One year on from generative AI hype, people are scared and excited about its use

Nearly one year after ChatGPT burst into the public consciousness, generative AI (GenAI) has left employees and their organisations both excited and uneasyNearly one year after ChatGPT burst into the public consciousness, generative AI (GenAI) has left employees and their organisations both excited and uneasy. According to a recent study [registration] commissioned by Betterworks and conducted by Propeller Insights, over half of employees are using GenAI at work for complex activities and believe it has the potential to reduce bias across a swath of HR processes, despite the fact that only 41 percent of organisations are actively evaluating it or have made GenAI a priority. At the same time, many employees are concerned about the potential impact of GenAI on both their roles and the possibility of unintentional amplification of bias.

The poll of more than 1,000 US employees across 20 industries took place in late October 2023, with the survey representing respondents at all levels within organizations, with 60 percent having director titles and above.

”We wanted to understand how C-suites across the country are thinking about and responding to GenAI,” said Doug Dennerline, CEO of Betterworks. “Are businesses embracing the opportunity and actively exploring ways to become more efficient and data-driven? And how do their workforces feel — what excites them, what concerns them, and have they already started using it to do their work? At Betterworks, we believe that GenAI will make people and organizations far more productive and innovative, as well as simplify and enhance performance management.”


Key findings

  •              Employees are using GenAI at work for high-level tasks regardless of their company’s position on it. Top uses include strategic work, idea generation/brainstorming, simple writing tasks, and technical work. Companies should establish usage guidelines to avoid the very real threat of having their business intelligence inadvertently used to train open-source AI models.
  •              Employees want to hear from HR because they’re split on AI’s impact. Nearly half say AI can make their jobs easier and more efficient, while almost a quarter expect negative impacts. Better communication about the impact of AI is essential.
  •              AI promises greater fairness and inclusiveness, but it’s not perfect. Sixty-one percent of employees believe Generative AI will promote a more fair and inclusive workplace by reducing bias in HR processes such as performance reviews, recruitment, training and development, feedback, and career conversations. However, 57 percent are concerned GenAI could unintentionally introduce and perpetuate bias due to factors such as historically biased data and difficulty understanding the complexity of AI decisions. Employees want their organizations to establish clear guidelines, be transparent, conduct regular algorithm audits, and have diverse AI development teams to ensure that  AI used in HR remains fair and unbiased.
  •              AI will elevate fairness in performance reviews and improve DEI. Nearly three-quarters of respondents think that GenAI can lead to more effective and unbiased performance evaluations by removing age bias, gender bias, and prejudice. Many also believe that AI can help create a more diverse workforce by identifying high-potential employees from underrepresented groups.
  •              AI + human intelligence is necessary for removing bias while incorporating human judgment in performance reviews: 75 percent of employees would say “yes” to this combination. When AI serves as a co-pilot with a human retaining ultimate control, the partnership promotes efficiency, fairness and trust.