How can employees stay one step ahead of Artificial Intelligence? Lucie Mitchell reports.
You don’t have to look very hard these days to find a headline about AI. In fact yesterday was a case in point with Labour announcing that it would help jobseekers use AI to find jobs.
It’s already impacting the workplace, with many employees understandably concerned about how it will change their jobs or whether it may even replace them altogether.
A recent Workingmums survey revealed that 20% of workers are very worried about what AI will mean for their job, and almost half think it will change their current job.
In the US, a survey by ResumeBuilder.com earlier this year found that 49% of organisations currently use ChatGPT and, of those that do, 48% have already replaced workers with the chatbot since it became available in November 2022.
Meanwhile, a recent report by Goldman Sachs claimed that generative AI could disrupt up to 300 million full-time jobs globally. However, the report authors noted that, although the impact of AI on the labour market is likely to be significant, “most jobs and industries are only partially exposed to automation and are thus more likely to be complemented rather than substituted by AI”.
This is a sentiment shared by Margot Couturon, product strategy manager at TechWolf.ai. “Where once AI and automation were seen as replacing workers, today it can augment their everyday work and, as we continue to learn how best to leverage it, it can help people recognise their full potential and help teams to become better.”
The risk will differ from industry to industry, and job to job, remarks David Stone, CEO of MRL Consulting Group. “At its current state, AI isn’t in a place where it can replace humans completely in almost every industry, but the exponential growth in technology makes it hard to say exactly when that will become a reality. In simple terms, AI is currently a system that is helping to create bits of software that are improving the jobs we currently have; and creating new ones in the software industry.”
Ronni Zehavi, CEO and co-founder of HiBob, says it’s important to remember that, amidst all this change, human intelligence will always be required in the workplace. “AI can help streamline processes and improve efficiency, but it will never completely replace employees. The ultimate goal for any company should be encouraging AI and employees to work collaboratively.”
For employees concerned about how they can protect their jobs, upskilling would be a positive step to take to help prepare for a digital future.
“The future of the workplace hinges on seamless human and AI collaboration,” remarks Zehavi. “Employees must embrace this reality and should learn to work effectively with AI. Employers should ask HR teams to facilitate training sessions so employees can learn the skills needed for effective collaboration. By learning how to integrate and apply AI tools for the best business outcomes, employees can future proof their role in the workplace.”
AI can also be used by employees as a powerful tool to better understand what skills they have, and what opportunities there are to upskill or reskill.
“AI is a great enabler for employees in reducing the time and effort needed for many routine tasks and freeing up time for them to focus on more valuable, strategic initiatives,” says Couturon. “Ignoring AI is no longer an option, so employees should take the initiative to learn what it is being used for and how it can be leveraged in their own roles. Staying up to date and making the most of technology is key to preparing for the future.”
Workers can therefore use AI to their benefit by, for example, using ChatGPT to help with CVs and cover letters, or reducing workloads by taking on the burden of mundane, automatable tasks.
Employees also need to think about negotiating the use of AI at work with their employers, by making their case and illustrating that AI can free up some of their time to focus on work that drives more value.
“AI can help employees save time and decrease stress,” comments Zehavi. “For example, ChatGPT can streamline CV and cover letter creation. Given more and more companies are using AI bots to screen CVs, it is not a bad idea to use AI in the creation of them as they are great for ensuring greater alignment with keywords in a job description.”
However, it’s important to remember that AI is a tool to help streamline these processes, and is not a replacement, he warns.
Al Brown, chief technology officer at BrightHR, agrees and advises employees to use AI where they see a benefit, but only in moderation and as an assistance tool, rather than an end-to-end work tool.
“It would be easy to become dependent on something like ChatGPT,” he adds. “For me, AI should be used as you would use any research tool by making sure you understand it and adjusting practice where appropriate. Never rely on AI to do work for you; always make sure you own all your work.”
There is also concern about the risks of bias around using AI in recruitment, particularly among certain demographics, such as older workers or people who have had career breaks.
The Workingmums survey found that 23% of respondents are very worried and 31% are fairly worried about the implications of using AI in recruitment, and the risk of bias. In a similar poll carried out on Workingwise, older workers were significantly more worried about the implications of AI for recruitment, with 70% very or fairly worried.
“Early models of AI will include bias by default,” comments Brown. “Over time, intervention and interaction with people will help remove that bias, making it more successful. The cycle will either correct itself or be corrected by intervention.”
AI will also learn from sources and determine statistically the suitability of those who, for example, have taken career breaks, he adds. “Doing so will create a filter to select the person best suited for the job based on analysis of statistical evidence. Therefore, AI could potentially conclude that older workers are great workers with experience and vision who work harder.”
Couturon says that as AI develops, there is huge potential for it to support under-represented workers by helping to identify and codify skills.
“For example, women who have been on a career break often lack confidence or feel like their skills are out of date. Imagine, if they could tell an AI everything they did over a day and it could immediately translate these into actionable skills, such as budget management, project delivery or logistics, or even soft skills such as resilience, patience and determination.”
Brown concludes: “When used best, AI can help filter out human bias and look at the statistical value of applicants. However, it should be noted that human bias when developing AI may be reflected in the success or failure of the technology. That’s why it’s important to use AI alongside human experience, rather than in place of it.”