March 18, 2019

Workers Recognize AI at Workplace Is Important— But, Do Employers Agree?

Workers recognize AI is Important— but, Do Employers Agree?

Have you ever made an attempt to analyze the perceptions of intelligent technologies like AI at workplace and their potential impact on your employees?

U.S. government workers are receptive to learning and using new intelligent technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and welcome opportunities to augment their skill sets according to a study released by Government Business Council (GBC), the research division of Government Executive Media Group, and underwritten by Accenture Federal Services (AFS). However, the research also found that workers believe that agencies need to better communicate how such technologies will affect them and additionally equip them with resources to navigate the transition.

Based on a survey of nearly 500 U.S. federal employees representing more than 30 civilian and defense agencies, the study explores perceptions of intelligent technologies like AI and their potential impact on the federal workforce.

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“The Federal workforce knows the potential benefits of AI and that intelligent technologies are coming — but what workers don’t yet know is how it will affect and amplify their work,” said Britaini Carroll, a human capital workforce lead at Accenture Federal Services. “Because employees play a key role in training, sustaining and interacting with intelligent technologies, they should be engaged in every step of the process and encouraged to continuously learn. We look forward to co-creating solutions with our government clients to help them transform their learning journeys and effectively incorporate AI in their workforce transformation plans.”

Among the study’s key findings:

Workers recognize that AI will be important — but their agencies haven’t explained how. 

Half (51 percent) of respondents expect the number of roles requiring collaboration with intelligent technologies to increase slightly or significantly in the next three years. Further, three-quarters (74 percent) acknowledge that in the next three to five years, it will be somewhat, very or extremely important for them to develop skills to work with AI. Yet only 26 percent said their agency has communicated the potential impact of AI either adequately, well or very well.

Workers value smart tech’s potential to reduce repetitive tasks and boost productivity. 

Workers identified several compelling potential benefits of intelligent technologies, including reduced repetitive tasks and administrative burdens (cited by 59 percent), improved productivity (53 percent) and reduced errors (46 percent). Interestingly, respondents were mixed on whether new technologies are always acquired for the benefit of employees.

While half (50 percent) believe that their agency is committed to ensuring employee skills benefit from new technologies, 29 percent believe that such tools are introduced without an appraisal of the employees’ current responsibilities.

Workers feel confident in their ability to adapt but worry about lack of training. 

When thinking about how well they will “fit” in the government of the future, half (49 percent) of respondents said they are confident or very confident that their technical skills and abilities make them a valuable worker, and three-quarters (76 percent) indicated that adaptability will be an essential skill to have in a government of the future. However, 61 percent said they are worried about lack of technical support and user training. Further, when respondents were asked what would motivate them to develop new skills in a future workforce, “being provided funding to cover training costs” was cited most often, by 55 percent of respondents.

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“AI is one of the most engaging topics we are seeing unfold in the federal government right now,” said Daniel Thomas, research manager for GBC and author of the study. “These findings show that there is a significant appetite for continued education around the opportunities that intelligent technologies like AI present to the federal employee.”

“Agencies should think big but start small in building a strategic, sustainable and responsible enterprise AI program,” said Dominic Delmolino, Accenture Federal Services chief technology officer.

Dominic added, “Furthermore, AI adoption should be pursued in the context of shifting employees from low-value to high- value work. By using a design-led approach when deploying new solutions, we ensure that employees are leading the identification of where AI tasks can augment their work, reinforce trust in the solution, build new relationships, and ultimately, encourage the adoption of AI technologies that will help meet rising demands.”

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Sudipto is a technology research specialist who brings 9 years of professional blogging and technical writing experience. He has developed cutting-edge content for over 100 websites and mobile applications. Our ‘Wordsmith’ is an engaging conversationalist and has done more than 200 interviews with some of the leading names in automobile, digital advertising, IT/ITES, medical technology, real estate, gemstone certification, HVAC, tourism and food processing industries. Apart from technical writing, he loves to blow off steam by chronicling stories about top medical professionals, innovators, spiritual 'gurus', gym trainers, nutritionists, wedding planners, chefs and off-beat hobbyists. The best place to find him beyond work hours— the shadiest underground gym in the city. He is an ardent sports buff and contributes with his witty live commentary too.

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