New study reveals disparities in attitudes towards generative AI among employees

Most workers want guidelines for using generative AI at work

New study reveals disparities in attitudes towards generative AI among employees

A recent study reveals a concerning gap in workplace guidance around the use of generative AI among Australian employees. The research by Veritas Technologies underscores uncertainties that are not only causing divisions among workers but also increasing the risk of exposing sensitive data.

According to the report, a significant portion of Australian employees—over two-thirds, or 68%—already employ generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Bard in their work routines. However, alarmingly, a quarter of office workers admit to inputting sensitive data, such as customer details, employee information, and company financials, into these tools, according to a report from ECommerce News.

Interestingly, while some employees embrace generative AI, a notable 21% do not use it and believe that colleagues using such tools should face pay reductions. This sentiment reflects a deep-rooted distrust within the workforce, as nearly half (47%) fear that using generative AI could lead to leaks of sensitive information, while 44% worry about inaccuracies and 43% cite potential compliance risks.

Differing views on use of generative AI

The research sheds light on a prevailing climate of skepticism surrounding AI usage, with Australians preferring human connections for work-related matters. A vast majority (93%) of employees emphasize the need for clear guidelines and policies on generative AI, yet only a third of employers provide such instructions.

Despite concerns about job security due to AI vulnerabilities, a significant number of workers (40%) anticipate their roles being replaced by AI in the next three years. This apprehension persists even as some employees are already using AI for inputting potentially sensitive information.

Pete Murray, the managing director of ANZ at Veritas, highlighted the urgency for employers to establish comprehensive guidelines and policies to regulate generative AI usage.

“When employers don’t provide guidance on how to use generative AI appropriately at work, it can create a Wild West of AI cowboys where some employees are using generative AI in risky ways. To resolve this, employers should be proactively issuing effective generative AI guidelines and policies, to set expectations and boundaries on what is acceptable and what isn’t,” said Murray.

Demand for guidance on AI

While more than half (51%) of office workers use generative AI tools weekly, a substantial 32% abstain from using them altogether. Interestingly, despite technological advancements, Australian employees primarily rely on human sources—colleagues, line managers, and personal contacts—for work-related information, indicating a preference for human interaction over AI assistance.

The study reveals a strong demand (76%) among Australian employees for employer-provided guidelines and policies on generative AI usage. Their motivations include fostering appropriate tool use, mitigating risks, and promoting fairness in the workplace.

Murray emphasizes the necessity for organizations to design, implement, and communicate clear guidelines to navigate the complexities of generative AI usage effectively.

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