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Why employees fear job loss as leaders are keen to adopt AI

Australian leaders are more enthusiastic about AI than their global peers. Still, they need to carefully navigate ongoing employee concerns, a new global study commissioned by unified communications leader Zoom Video Communications (NASDAQ: ZM) has found.

The worldwide study, commissioned by Zoom and conducted by Morning Consult, involved over 11,000 full-time knowledge workers, 1,000 being Australian. The vast majority (93%) of Australian leaders surveyed were favourable towards AI adoption, compared to 88% of leaders worldwide.

Saving time is a top benefit of AI:

Australian leaders’ favourable attitudes to AI are undoubtedly underpinned by the results their teams are getting from AI. Among those whose Australian teams use AI at work, the majority of leaders agreed their teams completed tasks faster (88%), were more productive (84%), and delivered higher quality work (85%). Australian leaders also recognised a need to move quickly, with 76% of those surveyed agreeing that delaying AI introduction creates a risk of their business falling behind.

Perhaps reflecting the different kinds of activities they spend most of their time engaged in, employees and leaders differ on how exactly they want AI to help them in their workdays. Australian employees are more interested in using AI tools for efficiency and automation, while leaders here want to use them for assistance during and after their meetings.

Employees prefer to use AI to:

  1. Summarise meetings, chat messages, and notes (44%)

  2. Automate repetitive tasks (43%)

  3. To find and organise information (36%)

Meanwhile, leaders prefer using AI to:

  1. Have better sound and video quality during meetings (38%)

  2. Summarise meetings, chat messages, and notes (34%)

  3. Get real-time help during meetings (34%)

Employees are more hesitant toward AI than leaders: When asked about the potential negatives of AI, Australian employees focussed on AI technology itself and the potentially negative effects it could have on their jobs, with 89% identifying job losses as a drawback of AI adoption.

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It would appear many leaders recognise their concerns, with 71% noting that fear of job losses was a barrier to AI adoption. Leaders also see relevant training as a challenge, with 80% identifying it as the biggest roadblock to AI adoption. Some leaders also reported concerns about growing employee dependency on AI.

“Amid such concerns, leadership will be key to unlocking AI benefits, and in fostering adoption. Just as AI can help automate or assist with tasks to improve productivity, it can also help boost collaboration. Educating teams and providing resources are essential steps toward unlocking the full potential of AI in the workplace,” said Bede Hackney, Head of Australia and New Zealand, Zoom.

Meanwhile, Ricky Kapur, Head of Asia Pacific, Zoom noted the opportunity cost that AI avoiders may be imposing on their businesses.

“Those who don’t use AI at work likely don’t recognise how much time they could potentially be saving. It’s clear that those who aren’t using it may be missing out on an opportunity to improve how they use their time by embracing these transformative technologies,” said Kapur.

APAC stands out in the survey as the region most bullish on AI, with 69% of APAC employees (and 60% of Australian employees) reporting being excited about AI; a measurably higher proportion than their US counterparts (47%).

Employees in the APAC region are also more likely than others to use AI in the future (43% say they are likely to, compared to 29% in EMEA and 26% in the U.S.).

“Australian leadership’s positive response to AI in the workplace indicates the country’s forward-thinking approach to innovation. As we navigate the evolving landscape of work transformation, Zoom is proud to support Australian businesses with its all-in-one intelligent collaboration platform in adopting cutting-edge technologies that can fully unlock the true business value of AI,” said Hackney.

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As Australian leaders see AI as a potential solution, the survey reflects a promising trend, and underscores the potential for Australia to lead in the adoption of AI.

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