Worker confidence in AI may be growing despite unease about the tech

Dive Brief:

  • Employees may be warming up to generative AI: 4 in 10 of the more than 2,500 U.S. workers surveyed by consulting firm Robert Half believe the technology will have a positive effect on their career, the firm announced Aug. 22.
  • Attitudes differ by occupation, the May 2023 research found. About two-thirds, 63%, of technology professionals and more than half of HR professionals said generative AI will create more demand for their skills. Age group also plays a role, as 63% of Generation Z respondents and 57% of millennials are optimistic about AI’s benefits, compared to 30% of Generation X respondents and 21% of baby boomers.
  • Generative AI’s greatest benefit is automating time-consuming tasks, more than one-third of respondents said, while 30% said the technology increased efficiency and productivity. For now, “embracing generative AI in the workplace will require a clear set of guidelines and openness to its potential,” Trisha Plovie, Robert Half’s senior VP of future of work, said in a press release.

Dive Insight:

The Robert Half findings suggest employees may be becoming more comfortable with the integration of AI into the workplace, a departure from recent studies revealing widespread concern among U.S. adults that AI will take jobs from humans, including theirs.

Recent college grads have also expressed unease about AI, according to a Cengage Group report released in July. Hiring managers surveyed for the report confirmed that AI could replace some entry-level jobs, teams and skills.

Mundane HR tasks are no exception. Earlier this year, Microsoft, IBM and Google Cloud announced automated tools that can create job postings and listings, identify and contact potential candidates and manage employee requests. Language-learning models like ChatGPT can take over sending emails and sorting through applications, sources previously told HR Dive.

However, many HR managers have already embraced the tech, according to Robert Half. A separate survey by the consulting firm found that HR managers said they were using generative AI to write job descriptions, find and screen candidates, and evaluate employee performance.

Managers in other industries have welcomed the technology as well, the firm’s research showed: Those in finance and accounting said they’re using generative AI to automate data entry, while managers in administrative and customer support said they were using it to analyze and categorize customer feedback.

Generative AI is also helping tech managers process large volumes of data to improve system performance, and managers in the marketing and creative sectors are using it to write copy for campaigns, social media and communications, Robert Half said.

Employees who know how to use generative AI platforms — including ChatGPT, BERT and Stable Diffusion — have reasons to be confident, a recent Upwork report found. Generative AI jobs were up more than 1,000% on the platform in the second quarter of 2023 compared to the end of 2022, Upwork said.

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