Third of businesses investing in GenAI, but employees increasingly concerned about redundancy

UK firms are bullish about the use of GenAI but their employees are not so certain, according to a new pollOver a third of UK employers are bullish about AI investment despite serious workforce uncertainty. New research shows that 35.3 percent of employers are actively investing in GenAI while 40.4 percent plan to increase their use of the technology, to support the workplace, according to a new poll from SD Worx. The findings suggest there is a surprisingly buoyant business outlook for AI adoption at a time when the UK government begins to craft new legislation to regulate AI. The move on regulation comes as the competition watchdog expresses increased concerns about the industry. However, despite businesses betting big on AI investment, similar enthusiasm isn’t shared by employees, with 30 percent of UK workers fearing their roles will be made redundant as a result of GenAi.

SD Worx surveyed 5,000 businesses and 18,000 employees in 18 countries across Europe, including the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Belgium. In terms of employer appetite for GenAi investment across Europe, the UK ranks in the top 3 countries at 35 percent, surpassed only by Poland (41.8 percent) and Italy (36.2 percent).

 Despite the swirl of buzz and momentum that surrounds AI, it is still not the biggest boardroom priority or concern this year for European businesses. Only 8 percent of the countries surveyed ranked it among the top five challenges for this year. Well-being (37 percent), recruitment (34 percent), employee retention (33 percent), flexible working (27 percent) and employee experience (27 percent) all pulled focus as the most pressing issues to tackle.

However, in stark contrast, employees are increasingly concerned as AI becomes further embedded into daily workflows. Despite serious misgivings, over 20 percent of UK employees admitted to using GenAi to support their work with 75 percent of this grouping in agreement that it made them significantly more productive at work.

UK employees are among the 5 workforces most concerned about the prospect of redundancy at 30 percent, against a European average of 28 percent. It appears that a major disconnect has arisen between businesses’ ambition to realise the value of AI and employees’ apprehension about its  impact on job security. Overall, the findings suggest that the rise of AI in workplace processes is fuelling anxiety about the tool, raising vital questions as to the change management leadership necessary to deliver AI innovation with workforce buy-in.