Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vivamus convallis sem tellus, vitae egestas felis vestibule ut.

Error message details.

Reuse Permissions

Request permission to republish or redistribute SHRM content and materials.

AI Is Boosting Workplace Efficiency

Desk workers’ adoption of generative AI (GenAI) seems still in its infancy around the world, but a new survey finds workers’ use of it increased 24 percent during the fourth quarter of 2023. When AI was used in conjunction with automation, desk workers reported an overall productivity increase of 80 percent, according to the global survey by Workforce Lab from Slack, a Salesforce company.

Respondents were full-time employees who worked with data or analyzed information or whose jobs involved creative thinking. AI’s top value, they said, was helping with writing, automating workflows and summarizing content. Job levels of respondents ranged from skilled office workers to junior and middle management to C-suite executives.

For these workers, AI helps relieve them of tedious tasks. On average, employees spend 41 percent of their workday on work considered “low value, repetitive or [lacking] meaningful contribution to their core job functions,” according to the Workforce Lab report.

“We all have tasks to complete that aren’t part of our job description but are necessary to keep things running smoothly. It’s the ‘work of work,’ ” said Christina Janzer, senior vice president of research and analytics at Slack and head of Workforce Lab, in a news release about the findings.

“But if the average desk worker is spending two full days each week on this ‘work of work,’ that’s a problem—and an opportunity.”

However, nearly half of desk workers (43 percent) have not received any guidance on how to use GenAI tools, according to the January survey of 10,281 workers in Australia, France, Germany, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S.

Workplace leaders are nervous. Even though a whopping majority of executives (81 percent) said they feel a sense of urgency to incorporate GenAI into their organizations, their two main concerns are data security and privacy (44 percent) and AI’s reliability and accuracy (36 percent).

Lesser concerns include a lack of expertise among workers (25 percent); ethical and compliance issues and customer trust and acceptance (17 percent, both); and the cost to implement and maintain AI (16 percent).

Around the World

Workforce Lab looked at the percentage of workers using AI and automation in their work. The U.K. had the highest percentage of workers using both types of tools, and workers in both the U.K. and Australia reported a 79 percent productivity increase.

Among other findings, chart courtesy of  of Salesforce:

Providing Guidance

The World Economic Forum reported in January that “many workers are being left to fend for themselves with little or no guidance from their employer” and that there’s “an under-appreciation” by organizations “of the technology’s true potential” and its impact on jobs.

Workers want AI training, previous surveys have found, so as to remain employable and relevant. That training should include guidelines on AI use. When crafting guidelines, SHRM Online reported in August, leaders should answer key questions on how, when and why AI will be used.  

“The vast majority of people who are using AI and automation are already starting to experience productivity gains,” Janzer pointed out. Workforce Lab found workers at companies that have AI guidelines were nearly six times more likely to have tried AI tools versus those who have no such guardrails.

“The data indicates,” Janzer added, “that failing to provide guidance or instruction on AI may be inhibiting your employees from giving it a try. If you’re looking to ready your workforce for the AI revolution, you can start by providing guidelines for how AI can be used at work.”


Other SHRM Resources:

Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) Chatbot Usage Policy, SHRM policy template

Ready to Draft an Up-to-Date AI Policy? Target Top Risks, SHRM Online, Oct. 15, 2023

Crafting Policies to Address the Proliferation of Generative AI, SHRM Online, Aug. 6, 2023

Make Sure Generative AI Policies Cover Intellectual Property, SHRM Online, April 30, 2023


​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.