- Workers’ needs should drive how and where employers use automation and artificial intelligence at work, consulting firm Bain & Co. recommended March 13.
- When companies embark on large-scale technology changes to cut costs, it can be difficult to get workers to change their habits, the firm said. To do so, it recommended employers first adopt tech that creates new value both for the company and employees. Then, it said, businesses should ensure workers have the right tools and programs to use the tech.
- To ensure automation and AI has value for workers, employers should encourage employees to help reimagine how work gets done, Bain & Co. said. For example, workers may be in the best position to know which of their tasks can be automated or which processes could be improved with AI, leaving room for them to focus on higher-value work that requires problem-solving and creativity.
Talks of automation and AI at work often focus on whether the tech will displace workers. Predictions vary, but one early Gartner study suggested AI ultimately will create more jobs than it kills.
Perhaps expectedly, however, automation appears to reduce the number of low-wage jobs and increase the number of high-paying tech jobs: A 2022 paper concluded that most of the increase in U.S. wage inequality over the past 40 years can be attributed to declining wages experienced by workers in industries that automated rapidly. Manufacturing and clerical jobs have been most affected.
While the end result remains to be seen, Bain’s recommendations seem to focus on using the tech to open up workers’ day for their highest-value work, and to ease friction in processes — all with their help and buy-in. “Companies should begin by prioritizing a few high-impact initial use cases to help the organization see the value of automation,” said Rasmus Wegener, a partner at the firm, in a statement. “A successful shift will leave employees feeling empowered.”