Major disconnect over AI attitudes

Research commissioned by Advertising Week and conducted via Cint reveals a disconnect between leadership teams, founders, and CEOs and their junior employees when it comes to using AI in the workplace.

  • 4 months ago Posted in

Research from Advertising Week Europe reveals that senior leaders at UK businesses are failing to engage with artificial intelligence in their organisations, despite the recent concerns about its negative impact on the job market and company security. The data suggests that only one-third of UK companies are internally-aligned on the use of AI, leaving the remaining two-thirds vulnerable to disruption.

The analysis suggests many UK businesses are neither concerned by the threats nor excited by the opportunities that AI presents their companies. This is at significant odds with their junior employees, who whilst more readily adopting the tools available, also expressed alarm and concern about the threats AI poses for their future careers.

The disconnect between older workers with AI could also have a huge impact on business with UK companies not preparing for the disruption AI will have on their companies. The majority of leaders are failing to experiment, understand or engage with how it will shape their market, as they are not excited by the potential it has.

The research also mapped the sentiment of employees towards AI, finding that senior leaders in the UK were not excited, not concerned, and were not supportive of its use in the workplace. 69% of workers in the UK with over 15 years of work experience have never knowingly used the technology in the workplace. This is compared to 62% of those with under 15 years of experience, who have used AI.

This was supported by the finding that two-thirds of UK companies do not have a policy on AI, leaving staff unclear whether and how they can use the technology to help them with tasks; with a clear lack of process when it comes to employees using AI.

The research uncovered that 34% of employees were nervous to tell their manager that they were using AI. This includes 42% of Gen Z and 40% of Millennials, who are the most likely to want to use AI to help them with tasks.

AI is also being viewed differently by organisations dependent on where they are in the country - with those in London being the most familiar with AI, compared to other parts of the UK. With 43% of London-based companies having a policy compared to 24% of companies based outside of London, employees in London are more likely to work at an organisation that has a company-wide AI policy.

Businesses across the UK prepare for and perceive the disruption of AI differently, depending on where they are based.

Other key findings from the research are sector specific and revealed the following:

•All industries are interested in using AI at work, with tech employers being the most likely to implement AI. By contrast, professionals working in medicine, retail, and hospitality are the least interested in using AI in their day to day work.

•Tech employers are the most supportive when it comes to helping their employees learn about AI, followed by leaders in the finance sector. Whereas employees within medicine, education, retail, and hospitality workers reported that their employers were not at all supportive of them using AI.

•Finance and accounting workers are the most concerned about AI taking their jobs with 77% of workers having this concern whilst medical workers were the least concerned about AI taking their jobs, with less than half worried (49%).

The research — carried out by Cint in partnership with Advertising Week Europe — surveyed 1000 respondents from across the UK.

Advertising Week Europe Global President Ruth Mortimer comments:

“AI is set to change the future of work and it is clear from our data that many leaders in business are not ready for this to happen. This is because they simply haven’t used AI, and are not aware of the range of uses it has in the workplace - either its opportunities or threats.

“With marketers twice as likely to have used AI than other sectors and much more nervous to tell their manager they are using AI than any other profession, it is clear that leaders in the Advertising and Marketing sector need to start to educate themselves on technology like ChatGPT and Google’s newly announced suite of products in the workplace. Otherwise there will be a huge disconnect between employers and employees over the coming years.

“AI has huge potential to revolutionise how we work. But without understanding at the top of British businesses, we will miss the chance to harness the creative and administrative benefits of this technology.”

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