With the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI), businesses are adopting AI solutions to improve productivity and efficiency. However, a new study in Management Science reveals that the impact of AI on employee performance is influenced by their work experience. The study examines how two types of work experience, narrow experience based on specific task volume and broad experience based on seniority, affect the dynamics of human-AI teams.
The researchers from the University of Rochester and Johns Hopkins Carey Business School conducted a field study in a publicly traded company that implemented an AI solution for medical chart coding. To their surprise, they discovered that AI benefits workers with greater task-based experience, contrary to the common assumption that less experienced workers would benefit more. On the other hand, senior workers, despite their extensive experience, derived less benefit from AI than their junior colleagues.
Further investigation uncovered the underlying reasons for these findings. The lower productivity lift experienced by senior workers was not solely attributable to their seniority but rather their higher sensitivity to the imperfections of AI, which in turn reduced their trust in the technology. This creates a dilemma, as senior employees, who are better positioned to leverage AI for productivity gains, tend to shy away from it due to their concerns about relying on AI’s assistance.
The study’s co-author from Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, Ritu Agarwal, emphasizes the importance of considering different types and levels of worker experience when introducing AI into the workplace. Newer employees with less task experience may struggle to effectively leverage AI, while senior employees with more organizational experience may have reservations about the potential risks associated with AI.
The research findings highlight the need for businesses to carefully assess and address the unique challenges posed by different levels of work experience when implementing AI. It is crucial to provide adequate training and support to help less experienced employees maximize the benefits of AI. Simultaneously, efforts should be made to alleviate the concerns of senior employees regarding the reliability and limitations of AI.
To ensure productive human-AI teaming, organizations should strive to create an environment that fosters trust in AI technologies. This can be achieved by transparently communicating the capabilities and limitations of AI systems, showcasing successful implementations, and involving employees in the AI implementation process. By addressing the concerns and specific needs of employees with varying levels of work experience, businesses can unlock the full potential of AI and drive greater productivity and efficiency.
The impact of AI on employee performance is not uniform across all individuals. The study underscores the importance of considering the influence of work experience on human-AI team dynamics. By understanding how different dimensions of work experience interact with AI, businesses can tailor their strategies to maximize the benefits of AI while addressing the unique challenges faced by employees at different stages of their careers. Developing effective frameworks and fostering trust in AI technologies will pave the way for successful human-AI collaborations in the workplace.