Productivity and AI

AI is one of the most pressing challenges the workplace is facing right now. Some businesses are embracing the technology, whilst others are fighting against it. There is a big misconception that it is here to replace the ‘human’ workforce, which is preventing businesses from harnessing the benefits the technology has to offer. However, if used correctly, AI will not replace us. It will enhance our productivity, which can help improve business outputs overall. 

How can AI solve the issue of productivity in the workplace?

Productivity was the main focus of the The Salesforce World Tour event in London. Due to the UK’s productivity growth slipping to its lowest point in a decade, many employers are searching for a way to improve their outputs. AI could be the solution. In particular, generative AI technology can help to significantly reduce the time it takes to complete a task, which not only boosts efficiency, but frees up more time for employees to focus on the work that matters most. Therefore, AI can help to increase the quality and quantity of outputs, in a shorter amount of time, which boosts productivity. 

However, studies found that between 3rd to 16th April 2023, only 16% of businesses across the UK were using AI, despite the fact that there is a clear correlation between adopting AI and improving productivity. So what is stopping business from jumping head first into a solution to the productivity crisis and how can we bridge this gap?

Businesses need to foster a culture underpinned by psychological safety so that employees feel secure enough to use AI to their advantage

The biggest barrier to entry is the fear that AI is here to replace us. If an employee does not feel secure in their job then they may be hesitant to adopt AI as they do not want to highlight that they need help, or that a tool can do their job better. That’s why businesses need to create a work culture underpinned by psychological safety. Fostering psychological safety at work enables employees to feel safe enough to be vulnerable about their weaknesses and strengths. This vulnerability then allows the business to train and upskill them, which is not only beneficial for the employee’s development, but for the business as a whole.

How can businesses begin to integrate AI tools into their workstreams?

The way businesses introduce AI tools to their employees is crucial. Firstly, as established, the work culture needs to be right before AI is brought in. Fostering an environment, through psychological safety, where employees can be open about areas they need help is key. You can then begin to send out employee surveys or host development discussions to really understand where the skills gaps or pain points lie. AI can then be introduced as a solution to these areas where the employee has asked for help. This shows that the business has listened to the employees needs, which can help improve the workplace culture even more, whilst solving a key business issue.

Summary: The demand for automation is there, businesses just need to take the leap

Based on a survey of over 2,000 desk workers in the UK, Slack’s State of Work Report 2023 found that 83% of workers believe access to AI automation tools could enable more impactful work. Therefore, the desire for AI tools to be brought into the workplace is there, it’s just the way they are introduced is key. AI must be presented as a way to increase the employee’s productivity and not completely replace them. It is a way to enhance their career, not derail it, and should be embraced to help boost the outputs of both the individual and the business. Understanding the role of AI and how it can be used to amplify an employee’s output could be the missing piece in the productivity puzzle.

For more information on how you can create psychological safety in the workplace, contact us today. Then you can begin to integrate AI tools into your business to boost productivity. 

Dr. Alexandra Dobra-Kiel - Innovation & Strategy Director

Author:Dr. Alexandra Dobra-Kiel - Innovation & Strategy Director

Alexandra’s expertise is in fusing strategy consulting with behavioural science to help companies be focused, relevant, and resilient. Prior to Behave, Alexandra worked at Deloitte, where she was Banking & Capital Markets Insight Lead for the UK.