What employees really think about artificial intelligence

AI has the potential to mitigate the shortage of skilled workers and stagnating productivity. But many are wrong when it comes to assessing the skills it requires.

Artificial intelligence will fundamentally change the world of work. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), three-quarters of companies want to implement big data, AI, or cloud computing in the next five years. However, 44 percent of all employee qualifications would then be under scrutiny.

The digital recruiting platform Stepstone has now investigated how employees view this upheaval, specifically through the use of AI, in a representative online survey.

According to the survey, almost half of the respondents use artificial intelligence in their work environment. Around 34 percent feel rather confident using AI, and 10 percent feel very confident. In addition, just under four out of ten participants expect to be able to learn new skills thanks to AI.

Fear of job loss fading

With regard to “productivity versus job cuts,” optimism prevails. 63 percent expect AI to boost their productivity rather than making their job redundant. This matches the current World Economic Forum report, according to which fears of mass job losses are increasingly giving way to hope of restructuring the world of work.

A survey by the IBM Institute for Business Value of more than 3,000 executives and 21,000 employees worldwide also found that AI is better suited to augmenting the work of humans rather than automating their tasks and thus replacing them.

Communication skills more important than data analysis skills

In addition, the Stepstone study shows that many people are fundamentally wrong when it comes to the AI skills they will need in the future. From an employee perspective, digital competency, and data analysis and interpretation are by far the most important skills for the successful use of AI. Competencies such as communication skills, critical thinking, and adaptability are rated as less important.

In-depth detailed AI knowledge is not usually necessary. Instead, it’s mostly just the corresponding tools that need to be applied – the focus is on the correct classification of the results. While skills such as digital literacy, and data analysis and interpretation are important, communication skills, critical thinking, and adaptability rank at least on par.

According to the Stepstone study, however, it is precisely these soft skills that employees particularly claim for themselves. In other words, they are better prepared for the AI revolution in the labor market than they themselves believe.

Incidentally, if you ask ChatGPT which skills are most important for its successful use, then language comprehension, communication skills, creativity and abstraction skills, and critical thinking hold the top four places.

Nevertheless, it’s important to seize the opportunity for further training. Those who use AI tools confidently and routinely gain time to devote to human, communicative tasks – which will be more important than ever at work in the future.

Companies need to catch up

On the company side, however, there is still some catching up to do. For example, only about a quarter of respondents believe that their employer is using AI effectively to boost productivity and performance. At 17 percent, even fewer see their employer actively investing in training and development programs to help employees use AI effectively.

That is dangerous for companies since AI orientation plays a role in job decisions for three-quarters of job seekers. As many as 44 percent consider the leading companies in the field of AI to be very attractive employers.

Applications with AI also welcome

Applicants benefit twofold from AI: First, they experience much faster and more user-friendly processes. Second, they can benefit from a whole new set of resources, from preparing resumes and cover letters, to virtual coaches for interviews and negotiations.

According to the Stepstone study, 42 percent of respondents would have no problem giving their data to an AI-based platform in exchange for receiving personalized job offers, for example. More than 60 percent provide their name, and more than 50 percent provide their resume, including employment and educational background, together with their contact details.