Early adopters of AI in the workplace are taking advantage of it

  • According to the latest CNBC|SurveyMonkey Workforce Survey, workers using AI are more likely to have received recent pay increases that have outpaced inflation.
  • They are also more likely to say they have the opportunity to advance their careers.
  • Whatever fears there may exist about AI job displacement in the future, and fears there are, early adopters of AI are thriving now.

Laurence Dutton | E+ | Getty Images

ChatGPT’s debut has sparked fresh fears that AI will replace the work people do much sooner than previously thought, making workers furloughed or even making entire job functions obsolete. Why pay a human to do something that an algorithm could do for free?

Workers who are already using AI for their jobs provide a striking counterpoint to this narrative, because, in short, they are thriving. They are more likely to have received recent pay raises that have exceeded inflation, consider themselves to be very well paid, say they have opportunities to advance their careers, and say that morale at their company is high. For these early adopters of AI, AI is a boon to their careers rather than a threat.

According to the latest CNBC|SurveyMonkey Workforce Survey, workers who say they rely on AI for their work have a workforce happiness index of 78, seven points higher than those who don’t use AI at all. in the workplace (71).

That difference between early adopters of AI and those who resist is greater than the differences we see in workforce happiness by race (at most a one-point difference), education (at most a three-point difference), or whether someone work fully in person or fully remote or something in between (at most a two point difference).

This Workforce Happiness Index calculates a score for each respondent in our CNBC|SurveyMonkey Workforce Survey, with a high of 100 and a low of 0. In the 10 surveys we’ve conducted since April 2019, the overall index score it varied incredibly little, with scores ranging from just 71 to 73 in each wave. This latest May 2023 survey data was collected among nearly 9,000 workers in the United States from May 23-31.

On every measure comprising our Workforce Happiness Index, including pay, autonomy, opportunity for advancement, recognition for their work, and significance, workers who use AI for their work report satisfaction greater than or equal to that of their colleagues. For example, 38% of workers who say using AI is necessary for them at work also say they are very well paid, compared to 24% among those who don’t use AI at all at work. Similarly, 44% of workers who use AI in their jobs say they have excellent opportunities to advance their careers at their company, compared to just 24% among those who don’t use AI in their jobs.

AI, wage earnings and inflation

Aside from those core components of job happiness, the divide between AI-enabled workers and Luddites manifests itself in other ways. Compared with those who don’t use AI at all, workers who say using AI is necessary to do their job are more likely to report that their salary has increased more than inflation in the past year ( 33% vs 10%) and to rate workplace morale as excellent (50% vs 27%).

Why could it be? In recent years, inflation has risen exponentially and a common complaint among workers is that their wages haven’t kept up. Much of the appeal of the Great Resignation was that workers could leave their low-paying jobs for similar work that would pay them a (significantly higher) market wage elsewhere.

In our latest labor force survey, 65% of workers say inflation has risen more than their wages have risen in the past 12 months, while 21% say their wages and inflation have risen by the same amount. pace and only 12% say their salary has increased more than inflation. Workers who rely on AI to get their jobs done are three times more likely than those who don’t use AI for work to fall into that lucky last category, but it might not just be luck.

Early adopters of AI in the workplace are a more diverse group than one might expect. The group of workers who say AI is needed to get their jobs done tends to be younger than workers on average (42% are under the age of 35, compared to 34% of workers overall). But they are less likely to be white (39%, compared to 63% of workers overall) and are no more likely than other workers to have six-figure incomes.

They are more concentrated in some sectors than in others. More than one in five workers (21%) in advertising and marketing say “the use of AI is necessary to do my job,” making it the field with the highest percentage of workers already incorporating AI in their daily work. Close behind, 18% of business support and logistics workers, 15% of agriculture workers, 14% of hospitality and tourism workers, 12% of automotive workers and 12% of tech workers say artificial intelligence is necessary for them to get the job done.

However, even though they are more satisfied in their jobs now, the data suggests that the early adoption of AI can lead to a higher level of fear about the future. About half of workers in advertising and marketing and business support and logistics (46%) are concerned that AI will soon take their jobs twice the level of concern overall.

Noteworthy, however, is that technology and advertising and marketing are the fields with the fewest workers saying they do not use AI at all (42% and 33%, respectively), indicating that the majority of Tech workers are using AI by choice rather than requirement.

This may be one of the main reasons these early adopters are thriving, they do so as much by choice as necessity. Their early use of AI may have shown them how much more productive and successful they can be by relying on these new tools, and they simply have no choice but to embrace that future.

To join the CNBC Workforce Executive Council, apply to cnbccouncils.com/wec.

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