Navigating AI implementation: a human-centric approach

'Bringing employees onboard with AI isn't just a favour, it's crucial for organizational success'

Navigating AI implementation: a human-centric approach

The integration of artificial intelligence has become not just a trend but a necessity for staying competitive.

And while AI promises increased efficiency, productivity, and profitability, its implementation often triggers apprehension and resistance among employees, said Cecelia Herbert, principal behavioural psychologist at Qualtrics.

"People often fear losing their jobs due to AI, but the real threat lies in the disruption of professional identity," she said. "It's about how AI will reshape roles and impact the very essence of how individuals identify themselves within their careers."

Integrating AI into the workforce

When integrating AI technology and tools to increase efficiency, it is critical for employers to acknowledge the emotional component that comes with navigating AI adoption. Merely focusing on rational explanations regarding how AI will increase efficiency and productivity isn’t enough to alleviate employee fears that their jobs may be replaced by technology, Herbert said at Qualtrics’ X4 Summit in Salt Lake City.

For AI initiatives to succeed, she stresses the importance of involving employees in the process and recognizing that AI isn't inherently good or bad—it's how it's used that matters.

"Bringing employees onboard with AI isn't just a favour, it's crucial for organizational success," she said. "Employees need to see how AI will create space for high-value tasks, not just increase their workload."

Successful AI implementation hinges on understanding and addressing the human element. By actively involving employees, aligning AI initiatives with organizational goals, and prioritizing human experiences, businesses can navigate the AI landscape with confidence and reap the benefits of technological advancement without sacrificing employee well-being, Herbert said.

Recommendations for employers

When considering AI's impact on HR functions, she encourages HR professionals to leverage existing skills and capabilities. Instead of starting with technology, she advises HR teams to begin with identifying areas for improvement and then seek AI solutions.

"HR's transition from an administrative to a strategic function can be facilitated by embracing AI," she said. "It's about focusing on tasks that can be augmented by AI while retaining the human touch in areas like employee sentiment analysis. It’s important not to get overwhelmed by the technology; focus on what you're trying to achieve because there's an AI tool out there to support your goals, you just have to find the right fit."

As organizations embark on their AI journey, it's essential to recognize that AI implementation isn't just a technological shift but a cultural transformation, creating a need for organizations to adopt a holistic approach that integrates AI seamlessly into existing workflows while fostering a culture of openness, transparency, and continuous learning, Herbert said.

“Employers are going to have skill and capability development for existing staff, so that they understand AI and how to use it because otherwise you run a risk in your organization of employees using these tools without understanding them, she said. “Employers also need to consider that AI integration means a lot of jobs are going to change significantly, so that means redesigning jobs, sitting down and thinking about what the future of the workforce looks like.”

“We need to lose a lot of the traditional methods of job design, which was about tasks and move towards a skills-based approach in which we analyse the skills and capabilities that we're going to need, so that there is a lot more internal mobility across organizations to help people move into or evolve their roles into that new future of work.”

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