Generative AI Adoption and Productivity: Finding Benefits Proves Challenging

A new study looks at the "good, the bad, and everything in between" when implementing generative AI in the workplace.

Nathan Eddy

February 13, 2024

4 Min Read
generative AI spelled out on tiles

Although an overwhelming 96% of workers have expressed optimism about the potential benefits of generative AI in their jobs, use of the technology so far hasn't translated into meaningful efficiency gains.

Those gains could be anywhere from six years to a decade away, according to an Oliver Wyman Forum study of 25,000 participants across 16 countries.

The study — "How Generative AI Is Transforming Business and Society: The Good, the Bad, and Everything in Between" — found that some 55% of employees surveyed said they use generative AI at least once a week at work, but 61% of users said they do not find it very trustworthy.

Approximately 20% of employees who haven't experienced increased productivity with GenAI attribute that to corporate guidelines and subpar AI tool output, which results in additional review and editing time.

The report also indicated that enthusiasm for GenAI's potential comes against a backdrop of concerns and challenges that GenAI could introduce to the workforce.

The anxiety among workers is palpable, particularly among white-collar professionals who fear redundancy or automation of their roles due to GenAI's impact on knowledge jobs.

The findings indicate a significant demand for upskilling, with 80% of white-collar employees expressing a desire for enhanced AI training.

Related:The Impact of Generative AI on My Work in 2023

However, just 64% report receiving such training. Furthermore, 60% of employees across various industries and job types are increasingly concerned about job replacement, with 30% of job seekers globally stating that GenAI influences their job search.

The report also uncovered notable global disparities in GenAI adoption. India leads the charge, with 83% of respondents reporting daily or weekly use, while North America and Europe lag at less than 50% weekly use.

Harnessing the Benefits of GenAI Through Training, Support

The report urged organizations to adopt a people-first approach to harness the benefits of GenAI while addressing worker concerns.

This involves substantial investments in training and support for employees, ensuring they can effectively collaborate with AI tools.

Kreaci pulled quote


Business leaders are encouraged to listen to employee concerns, offer up/reskilling programs, and create sensible processes that integrate AI without causing anxiety.

"Leadership is critical as organizations adopt AI and much of the anxiety stems from the gaps, whether from much needed communication on what organizations are doing — or not doing — or the level and type of training and reskilling needed, or generative AI's impact on specific jobs and so on," said Ana Kreacic, chief operating officer of the Oliver Wyman Forum.

Related:Generative AI in ITOps: Hype vs. Reality

While GenAI holds the promise of increased efficiency and innovation, organizations must navigate the delicate balance between embracing this transformative technology and addressing the valid concerns of their workforce.

"It must start with clear communication and initiatives championed from the top but also leaving enough space for experimentation as many use cases will be identified by front-line workers and managers," Kreacic said.

She added that organizations must be especially committed to investing in their workers to not only work with generative AI tools but also to reskill more broadly.

"This is especially true as employees are ahead of the curve here, with more than half of them globally already using the technology for work purposes," she explained.

How Automation Will Affect Jobs

According to estimates by the World Economic Forum, the broad category of AI might displace 85 million jobs globally by 2025, with one-third of entry-level roles at risk of automation.

Kreacic said effective workplace strategies require communication, collaboration, and critical thinking.

"Managers and senior executives should ensure that training is tailored to employees' job responsibilities and the specific use cases that generative AI will be deployed in," she said.

However, without employee input, that redesign of work augmented by technology can't happen, so employers must engage the employees and not only lead with the technology. 

"During this time, business leaders also must think about the mindset they are starting from," Kreacic added. "Are they only talking to their employees about the next level of productivity or profitability that the organization can achieve? Or are they also talking about what job or career benefits employees will see from going along on this generative AI journey?"

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About the Author(s)

Nathan Eddy

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for ITProToday and covers various IT trends and topics across wide variety of industries. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, he is also a documentary filmmaker specializing in architecture and urban planning. He currently lives in Berlin, Germany.

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