Most Employees Are Secretly Using AI Tools At Work: Report

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Most people are using AI at work, whether their bosses know about it or not. Meanwhile, company leaders are simultaneously looking for non-technical talent with AI skills.

A new joint report from LinkedIn and its parent company Microsoft released Wednesday revealed the almost contradictory state of AI at work, as employees discreetly use AI tools and employers seek out candidates with those skills without the majority investing in internal training or tools.

The survey took in responses from 31,000 people across 31 countries between February and March drawing from research that Microsoft conducted with its Fortune 500 customers to add an employer dimension to the survey.

Company leaders showed in the survey that they overwhelmingly favored job candidates with AI skills, even non-technical talent that could use generative AI like ChatGPT.

In the report, 66% of the leaders stated that they would not hire someone who didn't have AI skills and 71% said that they would probably hire a less experienced candidate with AI skills over a more experienced one without them.

Related: These 4 Words Make It Obvious You Used AI to Write a Paper, According to New Research

Despite employer demand for AI knowledge, lower percentages have provided AI training (39%) or invested in AI tools (45%) for employees.

Regardless of whether employers provide training, more employees than ever have adopted AI tools and are reaping the productivity benefits, even as they fear losing their jobs to the technology.

Three in four knowledge workers, defined in the study as employees who work from a desk, use AI to help get things done at work. The main reason 90% of these respondents reported using AI was to save time.

About half of the group (46%) that use AI recently started using it, within the past six months, and the majority of them (78%) are using AI tools at work “without guidance or clearance from the top.”

At small and medium-sized companies, the percentage of workers taking this “bring your own AI” approach is even higher: 80% of employees use AI discreetly, without a go-ahead from higher-ups.

The trend applies across generations — 73% of boomers and 85% of Gen Z reported using AI tools not provided by their companies.

Related: JPMorgan Says Its AI Cash Flow Software Cut Human Work By Almost 90%

At the same time, about half of the employees (45%) said they were worried that AI could replace their jobs.

Companies, like $7 billion “Buy Now, Pay Later” Klarna, have indicated that AI would pick up the responsibilities of laid-off workers. Klarna stated in February that its AI chatbot “is doing the equivalent work of 700 full-time [customer service] agents.”

The reason why employees are turning to AI tools, despite fears of AI replacing them, could be that they are dealing with higher workloads. The majority surveyed in the report (68%) stated that they find it hard to keep up with the amount of work they have to get done. Nearly half (46%) report feeling burned out.

“The data is clear: People are overwhelmed with digital debt and under duress at work— and they are turning to AI for relief,” the report reads. “The opportunity for every leader is to channel this momentum into ROI.”



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