Article: GenAI saves time, but will it save jobs?


GenAI saves time, but will it save jobs?

BCG report reveals growing confidence in AI at work, but also rising job security fears
GenAI saves time, but will it save jobs?

The Global South is more confident about GenAI than the Global North. In India, 54% of respondents are confident, compared with 34% in the US.


As generative AI (GenAI) continues to reshape the workplace, employees worldwide are experiencing a mix of optimism and anxiety about its impact on their jobs. A new report from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) titled "AI at Work: Friend and Foe" reveals that while confidence in AI's positive effects is growing, so too are concerns about job security.

The study, based on a survey of over 13,000 employees across 15 countries and regions, shows a significant shift in sentiment since last year. In 2024, 42% of respondents express confidence about AI and GenAI's impact on their work, a substantial increase from 26% in 2023. However, this optimism is tempered by a 5 percentage point rise in anxiety about the technologies.

Perhaps most striking is the disparity in job security perceptions between GenAI users and non-users. Nearly half (49%) of regular GenAI users believe their job could disappear within the next decade due to AI advancements. In contrast, only 24% of workers who don't use these technologies share this concern.

The adoption of GenAI in the workplace is accelerating rapidly. According to the report, 64% of leaders say they are beginning to implement GenAI tools to transform their organizations. Frontline employees, in particular, have seen a dramatic increase in GenAI usage, with more than twice as many reporting regular use compared to 2023. Currently, 43% of frontline workers use GenAI for work-related tasks.

One of the most tangible benefits of GenAI is time savings. The study reveals that 58% of respondents who use GenAI for work report saving at least five hours per week. This freed-up time is being redirected to various activities: performing more tasks (41%), tackling new tasks (39%), experimenting further with GenAI (38%), and focusing on strategic tasks (38%).

Despite these productivity gains, there's still room for improvement in employee training. Only 30% of managers and 28% of frontline employees have received training on how AI will change their jobs, compared to 50% of leaders.

Interestingly, the study highlights significant geographical differences in GenAI adoption and attitudes. Respondents from Global South countries, including Brazil, India, Nigeria, South Africa, and those in the Middle East, generally displayed more optimism and less anxiety about GenAI compared to those in mature markets. The Global South also boasts a higher proportion of regular GenAI users across all organizational levels and is more likely to have received GenAI training in the past year.

As organizations continue to integrate GenAI into their operations, BCG recommends five key strategies: establish a transformation-first mindset, manage all transformations, build training muscle at scale, emphasize how GenAI can increase value creation and employee joy, and anticipate the evolution of roles, skills, operating models, data, and governance.

As the workplace continues to evolve with GenAI, it's clear that while the technology is saving time, its impact on jobs remains a complex and ongoing question. The report emphasizes that the challenges organizations face as they continue on their GenAI journeys are more about change management than technology.

Now is the time for organisations to double down on their commitment to transformation built around GenAI.

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Topics: Technology, #Artificial Intelligence, #FutureofJobs

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