It’s a tough jobs market — recruiters across the board acknowledge that it’s difficult to match openings to job seekers right now. Labor force participation numbers are still lower than they were before the pandemic, and companies are competing for top talent.
Artificial intelligence, meanwhile, is having a moment. Chatbots like Bard, Bing and ChatGPT can answer complex questions, solve difficult math problems and create content — plus share the best recipe for roast chicken. ChatGPT can match the top 1% of human thinkers, according to a recent study.
But can AI solve your talent shortage woes? Maybe. Here’s the lay of the land.
Workers Are Using AI — But They’re Nervous
AI isn’t a thing on the distant horizon — 49% of workers have used ChatGPT or a different AI generator for work, according to a recent Monster poll. Uses include basic work tasks like writing an email (50%), job application tasks like writing cover letters (35%) or creative tasks like generating campaigns (30%).
However, 38% of workers are worried that an AI generator could replace their role at work or eliminate their position. And 26% of workers say ChatGPT is scarier than getting into an accident, switching careers entirely, being disliked by their manager, public speaking, and going on a blind date.
In fact, although workers are using AI on the job, their feelings about what they think would happen if their manager found out they were using an AI generator for certain job tasks were mixed.
“What’s interesting is that nearly one-third of respondents said they would be praised for finding efficiencies and nearly one-third think they would be asked to teach others,” says Monster career expert Vicki Salemi. “Whereas 20 percent think they would have some of their work replaced and nearly one-quarter think they would be looked down on. By looking at the bigger picture, this makes sense: it depends on the work, specific tasks, company culture and ultimately, your manager.”
Employer Adoption of AI Is Evolving
The idea of AI replacing jobs isn’t outlandish — some jobs are already being threatened. Consider self-checkout lines at the grocery store or chatbot customer service representatives. But experts believe AI will lead to tech jobs evolving, not necessarily disappearing.
“Continued innovation, continued transformation (across all industries) to online, digital, and AI is expected to create demand for tech professionals who can help organizations navigate and leverage new technologies,” says Monster economist Giacomo Santangelo. “This may lead to increased hiring in roles related to digitalization, software development, IT consulting, and digital marketing.”
In other industries, AI may be able to free employees from more mundane tasks. In education, for instance, if AI handles routine tasks, educators can focus more on decision-making, complex thinking, and helping students with critical thinking.
“At this point, I think what we’re experiencing is that we’re training these models,” says Anna Tavis, clinical professor of human capital management at New York University. “We’re not there yet, but I think that’s the goal. I see where it’s going, and I see the improvement curve from where we started to where we are now.”
Pros and Cons of Using AI When You’re Shorthanded
There are advantages (and disadvantages) to using AI to fill your talent gaps. For one thing, it can handle basic rote tasks, freeing up talent to use their time for more skilled work. You might be able to reduce spending on outsourcing if you can handle more in-house.
AI can also create a starting point or first draft of a project that your skilled workers can hone. “It can give you a baseline,” says Cornelia Gamlem, a speaker and consultant and co-author of The Big Book of HR. “That can help whoever’s creating that content to do it a bit more efficiently and probably quicker, so it might free up the individual’s time to do more.”
If you can use AI appropriately, it could be a tremendous time saver. “It might mean you can give more tasks to fewer employees and you’re still not overburdening them, because they’ve got some good tools to work with,” Gamlem says.
On the other hand, AI is only as good as its input — which means someone has to teach it what to do. “Then you’ve got to train people to use it, which is another added cost,” says Matthew Burr, a human resources consultant in Elmira, New York.
AI also has no soft skills. “It can be a useful tool, but it still lacks human emotion,” Gamlem says. “It lacks personal experiences.”
AI Can Help — Within Reason
When you’re overwhelmed and understaffed, AI might be able to handle your low-value tasks, freeing up workers to focus on more important things. You may be able to reduce your outsourcing spend and create tools that help your employees work more efficiently.
That said, for now, AI can’t replace the human element of your skilled workers. “There are situations that require context and problem solving that are not programmed into these bots,” Tavis says. “Humans can be more available for those types of situations if their time is not spent on routine tasks that can be automated through AI. That’s the ideal situation, and I think we’re getting there.”
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