Businesses in the South East need three years to prepare for impact of AI

A new survey of HR managers and directors in the South East, commissioned by research-driven consultancy YOHO Workplace Strategy, suggests that businesses will need three years to be ready for the impact of AI (artificial intelligence) on the workplace.

Around 33% said it would take a minimum of three years before they were prepared for the impact of AI on their roles, and just over one in ten (13%) said they would be fully prepared for the potential impact of AI on the workforce within the year.

To integrate AI, nearly half (49%) were investing in their tech teams, while over a third (31%) were already trialling AI in their businesses.

The survey also asked the respondents which jobs would be most impacted by AI. Perhaps unsurprisingly, IT and technology jobs were at the top of the list (39%), followed by administrative and office support (27%), healthcare and medical (25%), finance and accounting (23%) and customer service and support (23%).

Grant Price (pictured), CEO at YOHO Workplace Strategy, said: “AI has the potential to be the biggest disruptor of the way we work since the industrial revolution.

“Our research shows businesses in the South East don’t think they will be prepared for the seismic changes AI will have until three years’ time.

“But all sources indicate AI will have changed radically in that time and businesses need to prepare for this now.”

The survey revealed the top five concerns about AI in the workplace, which include technical issues (39%), dependence on technology (37%), security and privacy concerns (35%), job displacement (33%) and lack of human interaction (31%).

The types of benefits expected by respondents were improved safety and risk management (39%), improved decision-making and accuracy (37%), increased productivity and efficiency (37%), increased innovation and creativity (35%) and automation of routine or repetitive tasks (31%).

Varying responses from different age groups were also revealed. The biggest concerns among 18 to 34-year-old senior executives were AI’s potential to reduce human interaction and increase company dependence on technology (36.4%), whereas amongst those aged 35 to 55 and over, the biggest fear was over security and privacy (29%).

The vast majority (78%) of the HR execs surveyed felt they were either aware or fully aware of the potential impact of AI on the jobs market, with nearly half (41%) anticipating more benefits than drawbacks.

Grant added: “AI will displace jobs rapidly and while it will create new jobs, this is unlikely to be at the same rate as the jobs it displaces. The winners will be those who pivot to leverage its capabilities the quickest, as AI enables the translation of data into actionable insight at speed.

“Having been born into a world dominated by technology, Gen Z are likely to adapt more quickly and find it easier to harness AI’s capabilities as the technology continues to evolve.

“As pressure grows to allow AI to start recommending changes to our HR and business strategy – the question for businesses in the South East is whether we will find ways to retain sufficient control before we grant AI this role.”

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