Aug 28, 2023 - Economy

Workers want AI to help with burnout

Data: Microsoft, Edelman; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Microsoft, Edelman; Chart: Axios Visuals

Companies plan to hire more as a result of generative AI, recent research from freelance platform Upwork reveals.

Why it matters: Many workers are worried about automation and AI taking their jobs. But what they might actually want, is for AI to help them do their jobs more efficiently.

Driving the news: 64% of C-suite respondents say they will hire more due to generative AI, the strongest level of agreement among the 1,400 U.S. business leaders surveyed by Upwork in May.

  • Nearly half of respondents said they will hire more full-time employees, while an equal number said they will hire more freelancers.

The intrigue: As Axios' Eleanor Hawkins recently pinpointed in the Axios Communicators newsletter, the real threat for many workers is not being displaced by AI, but rather by someone else who knows how to use it.

State of play: While 49% of people say they're worried about job displacement, 70% would actually delegate as much work as possible to AI in order to reduce their workloads, according to a separate study from Microsoft.

  • In addition, 76% said they would be comfortable using AI for administrative tasks.
  • 86% said they would use AI to assist with finding the right information and answers.
  • And 76% said they believe it could help formulate ideas for their work.

What they're saying: "What this study and our latest survey data reveals is that generative AI is more about augmentation than automation," Kelly Monahan, Managing Director of the Upwork's Research Institute, tells Axios in an email.

  • "But those who are concerned and want to stay ahead of the curve should adopt a generative AI + mentality in their work. This is a mentality that starts with having a basic fluency of the generative AI skills that impact their profession. Then it's about layering on how generative AI can be a part of that workflow."

💭 Hope's thought bubble: AI — like most tools and languages — can be mastered for specific outcomes, so I'm inclined to agree with Adam Grant, the organizational psychology expert, in the Microsoft study.

  • "People are more excited about AI rescuing them from burnout than they are worried about it eliminating their jobs," he said.

Go deeper: How tech can make work harder

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