Let’s start at the beginning of AI strategy, which—oddly enough—goes back 2.6 million years. That’s right! That long ago is when we have evidence that early humans began using tools. Sure, we’ve come a long way from hitting things with rocks to generative text AI, but the concept is the same—they are tools for human use.
And that means, humans need to be at the center of your strategy for using AI in the workplace.
Understanding AI Strategy
What is an AI strategy? Well, it comes down to three main parts: the technology you choose, the data it collects, and the processes surrounding AI usage. Technology may include different apps, systems, platforms, or programs that help perform a specific function.
In order to choose which programs and apps to use, you need to have a clear picture of the data you are trying to collect. For example, different CRMs (customer relationship management systems) may track different metrics or supply data in different formats, some easier to understand or use than others.
Then there is the strategy behind AI processes. This means having plans and protections in place, so employees know exactly how the systems work and what they are supposed to do with them. This part of your strategy should also include upskilling for workers to learn these new systems and become confident in them.
But even the best-laid plans can come to naught if the strategy isn’t implemented correctly. Common challenges to using AI in the workplace include:
- Data Quality: AI systems like chatbots need to be trained on large amounts of data, some of which may not exist or may be difficult to translate to the system.
- Integration: It may take many different systems or programs to complete one large task, and integrating these together or into your existing systems can be troublesome.
- Over Use: Not all tasks require AI and too many systems can mean confusion and inefficiency.
- Change Management: If AI isn’t integrated correctly, employees may become frustrated or worry about the security of their position.
- Bias: AI can be biased and can lack transparency in providing results, particularly when you are using AI for HR.
- ROI: Sometimes it’s difficult to know whether a particular AI system will be worth the potentially large investment.
- Privacy: There are, of course, privacy concerns when using third-party AI platforms with consumer data.
Strategy is important, but if the strategy for using AI doesn’t include a plan for managing worker attitudes and aptitudes, then you’re doing it wrong. Let’s look at how to keep up positive employee attitudes.
The Impact of Employee Attitude on AI Use
Since AI is still a tool and not a do-it-all-without-intervention product, humans must be involved in its successful adoption and use. Positive attitudes toward AI can result in collaboration and innovation. Negative attitudes can result in a loss of productivity or even a complete failure to adapt.
Negative attitudes abound, often due to misunderstandings and misconceptions surrounding AI. The first fear employees often have is that AI is going to automate their entire job, rendering them expendable. Employees may be concerned about using the new tech or program, wondering if they’ll receive any training or be able to understand. Finally, they may worry about the reliance of the company on technology and that they might lose their own critical thinking or human relations skills.
Luckily, proper change management can alleviate all these fears. Not many programs are fully automated to the point where they don’t need human oversight and rational decision-making. If a program will completely replace a human’s position, be as upfront as possible with that person AND the whole team or company. If employees see one person let go because of AI, they might believe they’re next if there isn’t enough transparency.
It’s valid to worry when you believe you’ll be thrown into the wild with no guidebook. Being slapped with a new AI tool and no training can lead to sour attitudes and lots of employee stress. Training workers on the tech they will be using is critical to alleviating fears and having confident and happy employees.
If employees fear over-relying on AI and the loss of their critical thinking and people skills, find ways to emphasize the creative and human-to-human aspects of their work. Even the best AI systems still require plenty of collaboration and creativity. Remind employees that data doesn’t decode itself, and critical thinking and people skills will always be necessary.
In the end, be transparent, educate employees on how to use AI, and keep them involved in their work through critical thinking and human collaboration.
Taking a Pulse on Employee Attitudes Toward AI
In order to understand where your employees fall in their AI beliefs, it’s good to do a quick company-wide attitude check. Collecting feedback from employees on how they feel about upcoming or existing AI changes can help you identify where you need to shift your strategy.
You can measure employee attitudes with an anonymous poll or survey, hold a focus group for discussion, or even ask directly during manager/employee one on ones. Continue to measure and adapt your strategy over time to this data.
Upskilling for an AI Future
Employees must upskill to successfully handle AI in the workplace—and companies are responsible to help them in this pursuit. (After all, employee attitudes are what make or break your AI strategy.) Explore Dale Carnegie’s resources today including our whitepaper on how to prepare workers for generative AI, our on-demand webinar on leading change with AI, and our further blogs and articles.