A recent study from Boston Consulting Group (BCG) reveals evolving sentiments towards AI and GenAI among global employees.

The study, based on a survey of over 13,000 workers in 15 countries, shows that confidence in these technologies has increased, with 42% of respondents expressing confidence compared to 26% last year. However, anxiety is also rising, with 49% of regular users fearing job loss in the next decade, a concern shared by only 24% of non-users.

Increasing Adoption and Productivity Gains

The report, titled “AI at Work: Friend and Foe,” indicates significant growth in AI adoption, particularly among frontline employees. This year, 43% of frontline workers report using GenAI regularly, more than double from last year. GenAI is saving users at least five hours per week, enabling them to perform more tasks, experiment with the technology, and focus on strategic activities.

Sylvain Duranton, a managing director and senior partner at BCG, commented, “Our survey exposes the double-edged nature of GenAI. Familiarity correlates with both comfort and fear. By recognising the complex ways in which humans understand and interact with GenAI, leaders can reshape their organisations to maximise the strengths and value of both their human and machine workers.”

Training and Organisational Reshaping

Despite progress, there is still room for improvement in training. Only 30% of managers and 28% of frontline employees have been trained in how AI will change their jobs, compared to half of leaders. BCG emphasises the need for companies to adopt a holistic approach to reskill employees and reshape their organisations to realise the full value of GenAI.

Vinciane Beauchene, a managing director and partner at BCG, said, “We are entering a new era for GenAI which is less about optimism and curiosity and more about confidence and value realisation. Companies are starting to realise that getting the value out of their investment will require them to think beyond productivity.”

The survey highlights geographic differences in attitudes towards GenAI. Respondents from the Global South, including countries like Brazil, India, Nigeria, South Africa, and those in the Middle East, are more optimistic and less anxious about GenAI compared to their counterparts in the Global North. The Global South also has a higher proportion of regular GenAI users among leaders, managers, and frontline employees, and they are more likely to have received training in the past year.

BCG’s Recommendations for Organisations

The authors of the report provide five key recommendations for organisations integrating GenAI:

  1. Establish a transformation-first mindset
  2. Manage all your transformations
  3. Build training muscle at scale
  4. Emphasise how GenAI can increase value creation and employee joy
  5. Anticipate the evolution of roles, skills, operating model, data, and governance

Jeff Walters, a managing director and senior partner at BCG, noted, “Understandable human reactions to these technologies can pose challenges to companies as they continue on their GenAI journeys. These are more change management challenges than technology challenges. Now is the time for organisations to double down on their commitment to transformation built around GenAI.”