Companies Need to Better Prepare Their People for AI - Ideas for Leaders
Idea #878

Companies Need to Better Prepare Their People for AI

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Many employees and managers in the workplace fear that they will be left behind as their organizations fail to give them opportunities to learn how to leverage AI in their jobs. Women and managers below senior management levels are at a particular disadvantage.


More than half of American professionals use artificial intelligence (AI) in their jobs, according to research from Washington State University’s Carson College of Business. The research was based on a survey of 1200 full-time professionals from throughout the United States.

While 56% of professionals said they used AI in their jobs, that still left a significant 44% of professionals with no AI component in their work. Thirty percent of used AI to analyze data and predict trends, while 24% said they used generative AI to create content or communications.

The support of US companies for AI in the workplace is mixed, according to the study. Twenty-five percent of respondents said their companies were enthusiastic about AI’s contribution or potential contribution to their companies’ activities, 30% of employers were cautious, 18% were uncertain or confused, and 24% of respondents said their employers did not mention AI at all. Just 4% percent of employers, driven by fear or pessimism, were outrightly negative about incorporating AI in the workplace.

On an individual level, many of the respondents did have concerns about AI, including ethical concerns; privacy and security concerns about organizational, employee, and client data; and/or concerns that AI would be used to make employee jobs obsolete.

Companies are not always helping to alleviate their employees’ fears since, the research shows, many are failing to give employees the opportunities to learn how to use AI to improve their performance in their jobs. When asked to describe the AI-related resources their employers were providing, about 1/3 of respondents (32%) said that they had received some general news and resources on AI, while 26% said they had received some information about AI risks and policies. Only 31% of respondents had received specific training on AI tools for their jobs. And nearly a quarter of respondents said their companies had not provided any resources or information at all on the topic.

Looking ahead, about half the professionals believed their companies would train employees if they needed to increase AI expertise in the organization, although some professionals said they expected their company would hire new talent (10%) or outsource (13%) AI expertise. And more than a quarter of employees said they had little idea of how their companies would respond to a need for greater AI expertise.

The research also revealed a gender gap in the availability of AI resources for professionals. More than half (55%) of women said they had received no resources or information about AI. In comparison, just 43% of men said they had received no AI-related resources or information. In addition, while 42% of men had access to mentors or resources to learn about how to use AI in their jobs, only 32% of women received such support.

Not surprisingly, more men than women use AI in their jobs (47% of men compared to 41% of women). In addition, men are more likely to believe that AI can be highly impactful for work in their industry (76% to 68%). Specifically, they are more likely than women to believe that widespread use of AI in their work will improve employee efficiency (64% to 53%) business growth (52% to 43%) organizational competitiveness (53% of 39%), and employee retention (31% to 24%).

The study also shows that senior professionals—the top leadership and upper management of an organization—are more engaged with AI then lower-level professionals. Once again, the study highlights the link between organizational support for AI and professionals’ engagement with the new technology: Senior professionals are more likely than their junior counterparts to receive AI resources or information (68% to 36%); more likely to receive resources to learn about how to use AI (48% to 25%); and more likely to use AI in their roles (74% to 40%). As a result, the attitudes of senior leaders towards AI are very different from the attitudes of less senior leaders. Seventy-four percent of senior leaders believe that AI can positively transform work in their industry, compared to just 56% of more junior leaders. Senior leaders are much more likely to believe that AI will have a positive impact on employee efficiency (65% to 30%), business growth (57% to 36%), organizational reputation (47% to 30%) and employee retention (39% to 20%).


In all industries, artificial intelligence is having a significant impact on how people work and what they do. Yet, according to the study, organizations could do more to prepare and support employees, managers, and leaders in learning to accept and leverage AI in their jobs. The fact that men and senior leaders receive more AI resources and support than women and junior management is a further indictment of the lackluster performance of many organizations in this area. Providing employees and leaders at all levels of the organization with AI training and readiness initiatives is a vital responsibility of any company that hopes to be competitive and successful in the 21st century.



Eric Hollenbeck, communications manager for research, Carson College of Business



AI & Business Readiness – 2024. Carson College of Business report (January 24, 2024).

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Idea conceived

May 1, 2024

Idea posted

Mar 2024
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