Everything You Want to Know About AI in the Workplace

Updated on January 31, 2020
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Before we know it, artificial intelligence (AI) will be all around us. You likely already interact with AI in some way or another—even if you don’t realize it. Uber, Lyft, mobile check deposits, Siri, and even email spam filters are just a few forms of AI that are probably already a big part of your life.

In the next five years, there are plans for drone grocery delivery services, self-driving cars to make traffic fun, standardized mobile credit card payment methods, and easy disease diagnosis and treatment plans. AI has the power to make physically going to the store, driving your own car, and holding a credit card ancient history.

Jump to our infographic for a quick overview of everything you need to know about AI in the workplace, or read through our guide for a more in-depth look.

How Can AI Help Your Business?

1. Find the Perfect Candidate

Want to pick out the right candidates for your team before even scheduling interviews? AI makes this possible. AI companies provide “games” that measure the cognitive and data science behind how candidates handle themselves, tasks, and stressful situations. By comparing the results of your most successful team members and applicants, you can easily identify which candidates to interview.

These pre-screening games cross-analyze potential candidates’ cognitive and emotional characteristics with team members that have already shown success in your company. Utilizing this tool can save your business up to 250 hours and $20,000 a year in recruiting resources.

2. Onboard Employees More Easily 

Once you find the right candidate for your team, training can be just as easy with AI. Standard onboarding practices for small businesses can take up to three months, but with AI tools like Honeywell, managers can reduce training time by automating successful tools and “how-to” for your company practices by video.

AI software companies like Honeywell videotape daily practices from a camera attached to employees’ hats, documenting tasks and processes in easy go-to videos. This compiles every “how to” task to successfully carry out daily operations within a business for easy access and training.

3. Manage Repetitive Tasks

AI services can help with not only repetitive onboarding training, but with other similar administrative tasks like scheduling meetings, sifting through emails, booking travel, and answering basic questions from new hires. AI can, in fact, easily act as an assistant as technology like Alexa is becoming more popular.

Google Assistant, for example, has been downloaded on over one billion smartphone devices, helping with many everyday tasks. These tasks include answering small questions like weather conditions, schedule management, and translating up to 100 different languages.

4. Optimize Employee Efficiency

Not only does video and audio surveillance track the efficiency of employees, it’s able to detect stress levels in people’s voices. Monitoring this can help employers detect bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace, pushing for better company policies and culture. Various AI companies offer these services, as well as the ability to observe employee breaks, email content, and the overall health of your team.

Companies like Regal Plastics now track their employees’ exercise and sleep habits—with employee permission—by offering free FitBits. Studying data of employees’ health habits enables management to push for healthier lifestyles and, in turn, improve employees’ work performance.

Pros of AI in the Workplace 

1. Eliminate Repetitive Administrative Tasks

Getting rid of tedious tasks like keeping up with the influx of emails in your inbox or conducting successful onboarding training can free up the majority of managers’ schedules to focus on other responsibilities. Transferring these and other basic tasks over to AI software can save companies with three business leaders over $4 million in one year alone.

2. Reduce Mistakes

While AI frees up space for industry leaders to focus on more important tasks, it also decreases common operational errors. Not only is AI less likely to malfunction compared to humans, it can also aid in the safety of employees working with heavy machinery.

AI has the ability to save many lives in the construction industry where the average rate of fatalities hits 14 on site everyday. Implementing AI software, like Intelex, reminds employees to take caution when using dangerous machinery or tools to ensure proper compliance.

3. Provide Customer Service 24/7

Most employees are able to work between eight to 10 hours a day without feeling tired, overworked, or in need of a major break. AI is able to outperform even the best employees since it never experiences dips in productivity from exhaustion, hunger, or the need to use the bathroom. As long as bots are taken care of, stay plugged in, and are programmed properly, they can run 24/7 without you having to pay for anything but electricity.

Cons of AI in the Workplace 

1. High Cost

Back when these software systems started showing up, high prices only allowed prestigious companies to acquire AI in the workplace. Even though implementing AI in your workplace can be a hefty upfront cost, many managers are noticing the long-term return on these investments.

Depending on the particular AI software, it can cost a company between $100,000 and $300,000. However, this is a rough estimate considering the different attributes that contribute to the increase or decrease of expenses, including company size, company complexity, and AI type.

2. Removal of Humanity

Bots don’t have emotions, nor do they know how to adapt to them. This can be a big issue if certain managerial positions are replaced with AI technology. Imagine bringing an issue to an emotionless machine that is now your manager. IBM’s Watson is already looking into the long-term impacts of salary negotiation, bonuses, and promotional structures if robots were to handle these types of positions. These AI robots analyze the qualities of candidates on paper vs. in person to assess their value within the company, making getting a raise or moving up more difficult.

3. No Ability for Innovation

As bots are able to provide materials needed and carry out what they’re programmed to do, they don’t have a creative outlet to think outside of the box. This can be a detriment to companies that would rely on AI for innovating new ideas and implementing new business strategies.

How to Take Action

With rumors of AI taking over people’s jobs, this isn’t an easy pill to swallow. When introducing AI in the workplace, there are standard practices that should be taken into consideration to alleviate undue stress or job insecurity on your team.

1. Create an Implementation Plan

Once you’ve decided to implement AI, it’s time to figure out which application benefits your businesses the most. There are various ways that AI can help optimize small businesses, such as in market analysis, finance, underwriting, and coding, just to name a few.

For those wanting to implement AI, first get comfortable and master the technology yourself. This helps answer any questions or thoughts your team may have. Brainstorm a strategic plan to establish this new system in your business model and teach your team how to optimize the benefits.

2. Educate Your Team

Show your team what you want to implement, why, and how it can enhance your practices and be successful. With any new business practice, there will be a learning curve as employees open their minds to new material. Educate your employees on how to properly use these systems, saving them from the soul-crushing feeling of not being able to complete a task comfortably.

Host seminars or lunch and learns to show how this software will work and calm the fears of a “robot takeover.” Cultivating a positive outlook around AI is critical for your team to truly take advantage of all its benefits.

3. Encourage

Demonstrating how AI can increase productivity and efficiency when carrying out business operations will aid in the overall success of your company. About 79% of leaders and 60% of employees strongly believe a negative integration of AI will have consequences on careers, colleagues, and company culture.

Artificial intelligence has the ability to improve productivity, efficiency, and standardized practices on crucial daily tasks. Of course, this comes at a cost, whether that be the financial investment, training, or altering employee mindsets. Allowing this change can save businesses over $4 million each year.

AI in the Workplace

Sources: AllyO | Zoominfo | Venture Harbour | Learn G2 | Towards Data Science | Forbes 1, 2 | HR TechnologiesVittana 

Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood is the founding editor of the Fundera Ledger and a vice president at Fundera. She launched the Fundera Ledger in 2014 and has specialized in financial advice for small business owners for almost a decade. Meredith is frequently sought out for her expertise in small business lending. She is a monthly columnist for AllBusiness, and her advice has appeared in the SBA, SCORE, Yahoo, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, American Banker, Small Business Trends, MyCorporation, Small Biz Daily, StartupNation, and more. Email: meredith@fundera.com.
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