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Why Transparency is Key For AI Acceptance in the Workplace

Published 7 months ago • 4 min read

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a driving force in today's organizations, reshaping industries and revolutionizing how work is done. However, as AI continues to integrate into various facets of business operations, organizations must prioritize transparency in order to build trust among their employees. Transparency is essential not only to mitigate fears of job displacement but also to foster a culture of understanding and responsible AI deployment.

Unfortunately, new research from UKG and my company, Workplace Intelligence, finds that many workers feel completely in the dark about how their organization is using AI-powered technologies. Over half (54%) say they have ‘no idea’ how their company is using AI. And while 78% of C-suite leaders say their organization is using AI today, only 42% of employees think they’re using AI-powered devices in their day-to-day work.

It’s certainly not the case that workers are opposed to using AI. In fact, many say AI would increase their engagement/job satisfaction (63%), willingness to go above and beyond (55%), and overall happiness (54%). And among those already using AI at work, around 3 out of 4 say it makes them more efficient and productive, allows them to spend more time on meaningful tasks, and increases the quality or accuracy of their work.

Still, a lack of organizational transparency could pose a serious threat to getting complete employee buy-in. In my company’s study with UKG, we found that most workers would be more accepting and excited about AI if their company was more transparent about how it’s using AI (75%) and the direct ways AI could improve employees’ workflow (78%).

Greater transparency around AI would also pave the way for increased trust among employees and companies, which could yield significant business returns. According to Great Place to Work, organizations with a high-trust work culture benefit from:

  • Stock market returns two to three times greater than the market average
  • Turnover rates approximately 50% lower than industry competitors
  • Greater customer, client and patient satisfaction

Globally, there are many AI initiatives underway that are focused on increasing the public’s awareness around how AI is being used. More than 20 countries are working on a national strategy to manage the use and development of AI. On an international level, the United Nations has created an AI and Global Governance Platform to explore the global policy challenges raised by AI, as part of the Secretary-General’s Strategy on New Technologies.

However, most of these initiatives are still in-progress. That’s why employers should be doing their part to be more forthcoming with their employees — especially since the executives we surveyed estimate that by 2028, 70% of their workforce will use AI to automate or augment some of their job tasks.

In today’s article, I’ll describe 3 ways employers can be more open about AI with their workforce — let’s take a look.

3 Strategies to Increase AI Transparency Within Your Organization

#1 – Provide Education and Training

Begin by offering comprehensive AI education and training programs for employees. These programs should not be limited to just IT personnel but should target all departments. By demystifying AI, employees can better appreciate the technology's capabilities and limitations.

It’s also important to recognize that AI may alter the nature of certain job roles. To maintain transparency, offer reskilling and upskilling opportunities to employees whose roles may be impacted. This demonstrates a commitment to their professional development.

#2 - Communicate With Your Employees About All Aspects of Your AI Strategy

Develop an effective communication strategy that explains how AI is integrated into the organization's operations. Employees should understand or be made aware of the following:

  • The goals of AI implementation, how it impacts their work, and the broader organizational vision.
  • Who is accountable for AI-related decisions and actions.
  • Any guidelines you have in place on the ethical use of AI within the organization, including principles related to fairness, bias reduction, privacy, and data security.
  • Your organization’s policies on data collection, storage, and usage. It's crucial to address concerns related to data privacy and security in the context of AI applications.
  • How AI is being used in decision-making processes. In particular, employees should be able to comprehend why a particular course of action was chosen by AI algorithms.
  • AI projects, their progress, and any changes in strategy. Regular updates help employees feel connected to the AI journey and reduce anxieties about sudden shifts in job roles.
  • The sources of data used in AI algorithms. Employees should have insights into the data inputs, as well as the processes for data cleaning and handling any potential biases.

#3 – Put Feedback Mechanisms in Place

While it’s critical for organizations to share information about AI with their workforce, transparency is a two-way street. That’s why it’s important to create channels for employees to provide feedback and report concerns about AI systems. This not only helps in addressing issues promptly but also empowers employees by giving them a voice in the AI integration process.

Examples of ways to gather employee input include conducting surveys, allowing employees to converse with leadership (e.g., during town halls or forums), or asking workers to weigh in on Slack or another similar channel. Companies can also consider creating a dedicated employee group that gives workers a way to discuss concerns with their colleagues.

Embracing Transparency as a Cornerstone of Your AI Strategy

Transparency regarding AI is not just a moral imperative but also a strategic advantage. When employees understand the organization's AI initiatives and see the commitment to responsible AI deployment, it fosters trust, minimizes resistance to change, and empowers employees to collaborate effectively with AI systems.

Organizations that prioritize transparency in their AI initiatives create a more supportive and informed work environment. They not only reap the benefits of AI but also inspire employees to adapt and contribute to the successful integration of AI into the organization's operations. In this age of AI, transparency is the bridge that connects technology with human collaboration, and organizations should embrace it as a cornerstone of their AI strategy.

Thanks for reading — be sure to join the conversation on LinkedIn and let me know your thoughts on this topic!

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