AI usage and experience differ across different groups of employee

New research indicates that task-based employees benefited more from AI usage, while senior employees shied away from the technology.
By: | November 6, 2023

Interacting with AI may affect employees differently depending on the type of work experience they may have, new research from the University of Rochester and Johns Hopkins Carey Business School indicated. 

Published in the INFORMS journal Management Science, the study, Friend or Foe? Teaming Between Artificial Intelligence and Workers with Variation in Experience sought to explore the influence of two major types of human work experience (narrow experience based on the specific task volume and broad experience based on seniority) on the human-AI team dynamics. The results were surprising to the researchers. 

“The different dimensions of work experience have distinct interactions with AI and play unique roles in human-AI teaming,” said Weiguang Wang, Assistant Professor at the University of Rochester and leading author of the study. While the original hypothesis theorised that less experienced employees would benefit more from the help of AI, the research found that employees with greater task-based experience benefited more. Senior employees with greater experience gained less from AI than their junior colleagues.

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The study also found that the relatively lower productivity lift from the usage of tech was not a result of seniority but employees’ higher sensitivity to the imperfection of AI, which lowers their trust and willingness to experiment with the technology. This presents a dilemma, said Ritu Agarwhal, of Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and co-author of the study, as senior employees are in a better position to leverage AI for productivity.

The researchers urge employers to carefully consider different employee experience types and levels when introducing AI into the work, and addressing the unique challenges was key to productive human-AI teaming.