Survey Reveals Gap Between Executive Urgency and Employee AI Adoption


A new global survey from the Workforce Lab at Slack reveals that while using AI tools at work is linked to improved productivity and higher employee satisfaction, there is a significant gap between executive urgency and employee adoption of AI. The survey found that two-thirds of desk workers have yet to try AI tools, and 93% do not fully trust AI outputs for work-related tasks.

Despite the enthusiasm for AI among business leaders, with the urgency to integrate AI tools into operations increasing sevenfold over the past six months, the adoption among employees lags. Executives now prioritize AI innovation over concerns about inflation or the broader economy. Among desk workers who do use AI tools, 81% report improved productivity and higher engagement and satisfaction levels. However, more than two-thirds of desk workers have never used AI at work, and nearly 40% of companies lack AI usage guidelines.

The survey highlights several key findings. While executive urgency for AI integration has risen significantly, only a minority of desk workers have adopted AI tools. Those who have adopted AI report various benefits, including better work-life balance, stress management, and overall job satisfaction. However, trust in AI remains low, with only 7% of desk workers considering AI outputs completely trustworthy.

An emerging AI gender gap, particularly among Gen Z, shows that young men are 25% more likely to have tried AI tools than young women. Despite this, AI adoption is increasing faster among workers of color, with Hispanic/Latinx, Black, and Asian American desk workers showing higher adoption rates compared to their white counterparts.

Desk workers report spending about a third of their day on low-value tasks, such as unnecessary meetings, managing low-value emails, and excessive paperwork. Although AI has the potential to reduce these tasks, employees tend to use the time saved by AI on more administrative work rather than strategic or high-value activities.

Christina Janzer, head of the Workforce Lab, noted that employees using AI experience greater excitement, fulfillment, and pride in their work. Denise Dresser, CEO of Slack, emphasized the need for clear guidelines, education, and training to boost AI adoption among employees. By establishing permissions and providing training, companies can build trust in AI tools and encourage their use.

The survey also suggests that AI enthusiasm is just beginning, with a majority of desk workers believing that the hype around AI is justified and expecting it to have a significant impact on their work. Younger workers, particularly those in Gen Z and Gen Alpha, show the most enthusiasm for AI.

However, the survey warns that AI could lead to increased busywork rather than reducing it. Many desk workers already experience burnout and stress, and they often spend a significant portion of their day on tasks they find low-value. Leaders must help employees prioritize meaningful work to make the most of AI’s potential.

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Michael Guta Michael Guta is the Assistant Editor at Small Business Trends and has been with the team for 9 years. He currently manages its East African editorial team. Michael brings with him many years of content experience in the digital ecosystem covering a wide range of industries. He holds a B.S. in Information Communication Technology, with an emphasis in Technology Management.