Companies Struggle to Prepare Employees for AI Revolution
As the wave of artificial intelligence (AI) continues to surge, transforming industries and job roles, many white-collar workers are left pondering about their future. The launch of ChatGPT last November sparked a blend of excitement and apprehension about the potential of AI to revolutionize workplaces. However, the reality is that change, particularly in larger organizations, is a gradual process. The buzz around AI has often outpaced businesses’ ability to adapt, leaving employees in a state of uncertainty, eagerly awaiting clear guidelines and training from their employers.
According to a survey conducted by Boston Consulting Group Inc., which involved around 13,000 workers from 18 countries, over 85% of employees are convinced that they will require training to tackle the changes brought about by AI in their jobs. However, less than 15% have received any form of such training so far.
This scenario is set to change as companies are now strategizing and investing in employee training for AI integration. While some firms have restricted the use of tools like ChatGPT due to security concerns, others have embraced generative AI fully, rushing to develop and roll out comprehensive training programs for their staff.
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, a leading consulting firm, is one such company that has embarked on this journey. The firm plans to roll out compulsory training for its entire US workforce over a span of five months, beginning from August. Yolanda Seals-Coffield, PwC’s US Chief People Officer, believes that the first step is to demystify AI technology. She said, “The sooner we can get out and start to teach people about this technology, the sooner we can dispel some of that.”
PwC plans to categorize its workforce into three groups based on the depth of understanding required for the new technology. The first group will receive mandatory training on the basics of generative AI, covering its definition, functioning, best practices, and ethical usage. The second and third groups will comprise software engineers who require more technical training to integrate AI into internal systems, and senior leaders who need a comprehensive understanding to assist clients in transforming their businesses.
PwC has a detailed training roadmap in place but has deliberately chosen not to extend it beyond December. Seals-Coffield explained this decision by saying, “Quite frankly we didn’t go beyond that because we think the technology will continue to evolve. We want to make sure that we’re not stuck and committed to something that by January will need to be completely redone.”
Other companies like Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. are adopting a less formal approach. This consulting firm offers voluntary training that employees can undertake in their own time. They also provide two weekly virtual sessions on best practices.
Digital consultancy Publicis Sapient is adopting a more targeted approach. The company plans to train all employees in prompt engineering – the process of crafting precise questions to get the best answers from a chatbot.
Meanwhile, online learning platform Coursera Inc. has adopted a learn-by-doing approach. CEO Jeff Maggioncalda encourages staff to experiment with new tech as much as possible in their work and share their learnings.
However, Maggioncalda believes that this kind of organizational transformation cannot be entirely bottom-up or top-down. He insists that middle managers play a crucial role in this process and need training on how to teach their direct reports how to do their jobs differently.
In conclusion, as companies strategize training employees for AI integration, it’s clear that the approach varies from company to company. Whether it’s an electric height adjustable standing desk or AI technology, adaptation is key in today’s fast-paced business world. As such, firms need to ensure they provide adequate training and support for their employees as they navigate this new technological landscape.