Checkr surveyed American workers from four generations to uncover their feelings about adoption of generative AI tools at work; whether workers believe AI might one day replace them; their usage of AI tools at work; how AI might impact jobs and compensation in 2023; AI’s impact on work/life balance; which generation of workers is most fearful of AI’s workplace role, and much more.
In the rapidly evolving landscape of technology, one trend has emerged as a game-changer for businesses worldwide: the widespread adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the workplace. As we venture into 2023, AI has transitioned from a buzzword to a transformative force that is revolutionizing the way organizations operate, innovate, and interact with their customers.
AI adoption in the workplace brings a myriad of benefits for companies and employees. But as the popularity and implementation of AI grows, it’s important to recognize the risks, challenges, and fears within your organization and among employees of all ages and varying technological skill sets.
AI adoption in the workplace is impacting different age groups of workers in distinct ways. Most may assume that younger generations generally embrace technology, while older workers are more likely to express concerns about job security and the changing nature of AI usage.
- Are Millennials and Gen Zers more excited than Boomers and Gen Xers about AI at work?
- Do the older generations have any interest in educating themselves about AI?
- Will AI have a profound impact on work/life balance as it takes tasks off the plates of many workers?
- Are workers of all ages concerned about cybersecurity risks and the potential of a pay decrease due to AI adoption?
To find out, Checkr surveyed 3,000 employed Americans — an equal number of Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Zers — to shed light on the current state of AI tools in the workplace to help us better understand excitement levels, concerns, and overall sentiment surrounding AI at work. In this survey, when we refer to AI tools, we’re generally referring to generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Jasper which use algorithms and machine learning to analyze and process large volumes of data that typically would require human intelligence and decision-making.
The data gathered can be useful for organizations looking to learn more about AI adoption, improve the education of workers as it relates to AI, and gain a better understanding of what workers really want when it comes to AI in the workplace.
Before we get into the summary of key findings, let’s take a look at the age groups of each generation surveyed:
- Baby Boomers: 59-77
- Gen X: 43-58
- Millennials: 27-42
- Gen Z: 18-26
Summary of key findings
- 85% of American workers have used AI tools to perform tasks at work. Millennials lead the group with 89% saying they’ve used AI at work.
- 69% of American workers — 63% of Boomers, 65% of Gen Xers, 76% of Millennials, and 71% of Gen Zers — said they either agree or are on the fence about being afraid to tell their managers about AI use at work for fear of being replaced by the tools they’re using.
- 79% of American workers feel pressured to learn more about AI tools. Millennials lead the group with 85% feeling the most pressure at work.
- 57% of American workers — 53% of Boomers, 49% of Gen Xers, 59% of Millennials, and 65% of Gen Xers — said they would take a pay cut in exchange for an AI-enabled four-day workweek.
- 86% of American workers — 85% of Boomers, 82% of Gen Xers, 84% of Millennials, and 92% of Gen Zers — said they would take a pay cut to work less, in general, if AI could help them get all of their work done.
- 79% of American workers — 75% of Boomers, 81% of Gen Xers, 82% of Millennials, and 76% of Gen Zers — said they are fearful or on the fence about AI leading to lower pay for people in their positions.
- 74% of American workers — 71% of Boomers, 70% of Gen Xers, 81% of Millennials, and 73% of Gen Zers — said they agree or are on the fence about the adoption of AI tools leading to them losing their jobs.
- 67% of American workers — 59% of Boomers, 61% of Gen Xers, 77% of Millennials, and 69% of Gen Zers — said they would spend their own money to enhance AI knowledge to avoid being replaced.
- 74% of Americans — 70% of Boomers, 69% of Gen Xers, 78% of Millennials, and 79% of Gen Zers — said they believe AI layoffs are going to occur within the next six months to two years.
Current AI usage and planning for the future
AI is being increasingly utilized in various aspects of work, from automating repetitive tasks to enabling advanced data analysis and decision-making.
But just how many Americans are using AI to produce better work, work more efficiently, and make things easier on themselves at the office? And should younger generations — Millennials and Gen Zers — look to quickly adopt AI in the hope that it increases their chances for career growth and obtaining a future leadership position?
To start, we asked workers if they have ever used generative AI tools to perform tasks at work. The results are staggering, as 85% said they have used AI to get their work done, with Millennials leading the charge at 89%.
How many Americans are using AI in the workplace in 2023?
To find out whether the aforementioned AI usage is self-motivated or ordered from management, we asked respondents if they feel pressure from their managers to learn more about AI in order to increase productivity and efficiency. 79% of all respondents said they definitely feel pressure from higher-ups, with Millennials (85%) feeling the most heat related to AI learning and education.
We know that managers are eager for employees to learn more about how AI can help them perform better at work, but what about company-wide plans for the formal adoption of AI in the workplace? When asked how their company is preparing for the adoption of AI, workers across all generations shared that their companies are “actively researching the adoption of AI,” while just 6% said they’re not permitted to use AI at work under any circumstances. Clearly, AI is coming and organizations are preparing.
It’s no surprise that workers enjoy using AI-powered tools which can analyze vast amounts of data quickly, and provide insights that enable more informed decision-making. This can allow workers to focus on high-value tasks, utilize their expertise, and achieve greater productivity and efficiency in their work.
While the tools are useful, with them comes a bit of risk for the employee. Are they willing to credit AI or are they keeping a secret from management about performance-enhancing AI?
To find out, we asked respondents if they were scared to tell their manager about using AI for fear of being replaced by those same tools, and 69% of all workers said they are either fearful or unsure. Across all generations, Millennials (76%) and Gen Zers (71%) are the most fearful about negative repercussions from AI usage at work, while Boomers (63%) and Gen Xers (65%) are less afraid of sharing their AI usage with management.
Clearly, concerns exist in the workplace when it comes to AI usage. When asked about their biggest concerns, Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials said they’re more worried about cybersecurity risks, while Gen Zers said they were most fearful of employee resistance to AI causing issues at work.
Generative AI is a new concept, and with anything new, risks are involved with adoption. From cybersecurity to job loss, AI may be a cause for concern for many across America. Businesses may wish to explore all facets of AI before widespread adoption, and pay close attention to the needs and desires of employees of all ages.
Four-day workweeks and fewer hours
A goal of AI development is to enhance the ability of a worker to get tasks done in an efficient manner — something both managers and employees are always striving for. A 2021 study from GoodHire revealed that 83% of Americans would prefer a four-day workweek if made available by management. Additional reports have shown that four-day workweek pilots were extremely successful in the largest trial of late.
Could AI be the driving force toward a four-day workweek or less than 40-hour weeks? To find out, we asked workers if they would take a pay cut in exchange for a four-day workweek if AI could help them complete their work in less time. While it’s no surprise that workers are excited about a potential four-day workweek, it was shocking to learn that more than half (57%) of workers would sacrifice their own money for an AI-enabled four-day workweek.
To dig deeper into this concept, we again asked workers if they’d consider a pay cut to, in general, spend less time working if AI could help them work more efficiently. A whopping 86% of workers said they would definitely take some sort of pay cut to work less.
Would Americans take pay cuts to work less due to AI assistance?
To follow up, we asked how substantial of a decrease in compensation — between 5% and 25% — they would actually agree to in order to work less. Interestingly, the most popular answer for each generation was not simply the lowest amount of 5%.
Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials agreed on their most preferred pay cut amount of 10%, while Gen Zers said they would forfeit up to 15% of their pay to work less if AI could help them do their job more efficiently.
Workers have made it clear: they prefer to spend less time on the job even if it means sacrificing their own money.
Organizations can learn from these results and work to understand what motivates and drives their employees to remain productive. Those same companies might also consider unique work schedules and environments to keep employees engaged and support efforts to retain top talent even if that means a shorter workweek driven by AI’s capabilities.
Compensation concerns and pay cuts
We know American workers are eager for shorter days and fewer hours, and they’re even considering a sacrifice in pay to get what they want. AI has the potential to become a huge component of working less and an ally to workers looking to become more efficient and spend less time at the office. However, workers should also consider the contrasting side — what if AI helps them so much at work that management feels a need to decrease pay without the aforementioned shorter weeks and fewer hours?
To reveal their thoughts on this concept, we asked workers if they thought AI tools were a threat to their pay and could lead to wage declines across the country, and 78% of all workers said they agree or were on the fence about this issue. Additionally, Millennials (82%) were the most fearful of wage declines, while Gen Xers (78%), Boomers (77%), and Gen Zers (74%) echoed the same sentiment.
Do Americans believe their compensation is at risk because of AI?
While workers may have expressed a willingness to take less money for shorter weeks and fewer hours, they don’t feel equally as comfortable working a full week or normal hours for less pay, as not many would.
Recently, we learned that IBM is planning to pause hiring and said that nearly 7,800 jobs could be replaced by AI in the future. This is scary news for any employee across the country. To find out if AI strikes direct fear in them, we asked respondents if they thought their positions, specifically, were at risk of pay decreases due to AI taking over some of their tasks.
79% of all Americans said they were fearful or unsure about potential AI-driven pay decreases for their position, and Millennials again show the most fear with regard to AI, as 82% of them said they were fearful or unsure. Additionally, at least 75% of Boomers, Gen Xers, and Gen Zers echoed that statement.
Managers and higher-ups may want to pay close attention to employee sentiment related to AI-driven layoffs and pay cuts, as fear in the office can play a big role in talent retention and employee engagement issues.
Job security threats and proactive education
The workplace is a delicate space to navigate for both managers and employees. Most workers really do value their jobs and the opportunities they provide, yet they aspire to work fewer hours to maintain a healthier work-life balance while prioritizing their personal interests and well-being. But we also know that workers are eager to do more meaningful work, even if that means getting paid less. But ultimately, the thing that can create a safe, positive, and meaningful environment for employees is job security.
Job security provides workers with a sense of stability, peace of mind, and the ability to plan for the future, ultimately fostering financial security and overall well-being. We’ve learned that AI can be a hugely helpful tool for workers, but that risks and concerns exist as well. So, what kind of role does AI play in the job security landscape?
When asked if they feel threatened that their manager would prefer to replace them with AI if the work being done was comparable, 49% of all Americans agreed with this statement. Generationally, Millennials and Gen Zers shared the most fearful outlook as 57% of both generations said they do feel threatened about being replaced by AI. On the lower end, Boomers (43%) and Gen Xers (40%) shared that they feel less threatened by AI than their younger counterparts.
To uncover more about job security issues related to AI’s adoption at work, we asked workers to rank their level of concern about being replaced by AI and completely losing their jobs. The concern is real, as 74% of all workers said they have real concerns or are on the fence about AI fully replacing them at work. Drilling down deeper, we learned that a common theme among generations continues, as Millennials (81%) are the most worried, followed by 73% of Gen Zers, 71% of Boomers, and 70% of Gen Xers.
Are Americans lacking confidence in job security because of AI?
On top of that, workers of all ages are in complete agreement that the department most likely to suffer layoffs because of AI adoption is web development and programming. Workers also said graphic design, administrative jobs, and logistics positions could be at high risk. Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Zers all believe these layoffs could begin to occur in just 6-12 months. In contrast, Boomers believe AI-driven layoffs are further away, and may not begin for 1-2 years.
Are Americans paying to go back to school to keep up with AI?
Clearly, workers are excited about the possibility of their work being enhanced by AI, but at the same time share major fears about AI adoption resulting in lower pay and potential job loss.
So, what can workers do to mitigate the risk of AI-driven layoffs and pay decreases? Much like any new skill, the place to start seems to be education and training. Since we learned earlier that the majority of companies are still in the research phase of workplace AI adoption, employees are most likely to be self-educating in the short term.
To find out how willing workers are to do just that, we asked if they would consider spending their own money to go back to school or take classes outside of work to enhance their knowledge of AI in order to retain their jobs.
67% of all workers said they would spend their own money on AI education to prevent job loss, showing they’re serious about AI education and training and aren’t willing to sit back and wait for potential layoffs to occur — a promising mindset for the workforce showing the impact AI may have going forward in 2023 and beyond. Again, Millennials lead the charge, as 77% of them said they’d be willing to spend their own money on AI education, followed by Gen Zers (69%), Gen Xers (61%), and Boomers (59%).
With workers showing an eagerness to learn about AI, as well as fears around being replaced by it, management and leadership may want to consider investment in company-wide education sessions and training programs to lessen the worries of employees across the country.
The future of AI adoption in the workplace
We’re witnessing AI becoming a transformative force in the workplace, driving significant advancements in productivity, customer experiences, and decision-making processes, but the results of our survey show AI has also created potential fearfulness within the workforce as it relates to pay decreases and potential job loss. AI adoption is littered with both positives and negatives, benefits and risks, excitement and fear for all levels within the workforce, with varying degrees of all based on the age of the worker and the generational-based experiences they’ve had.
As we venture into 2023 and beyond, the widespread adoption of AI is reshaping job roles and responsibilities, promoting collaboration between humans and machines, and unlocking new opportunities for innovation and growth.
While challenges remain, organizations that thoughtfully navigate the ethical considerations and invest in upskilling their workforce stand to reap the benefits of AI, fostering a future where intelligent technologies augment human capabilities, leading to a more efficient, productive, and prosperous working environment.
Embracing AI’s potential and harnessing its power will be key in shaping the workplace of tomorrow for all generations at work.
For more information on Checkr’s research or to request graphics or an interview about this study, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
All data found within this report is derived from a survey by Checkr conducted online via survey platform Pollfish from April 27-28, 2023. In total, 3,000 employed adult Americans were surveyed — an equal number from each generation. The respondents were found via Pollfish’s age filtering features. This survey was conducted over a two-day span, and all respondents were asked to answer all questions as truthfully as possible and to the best of their knowledge and abilities.
The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.
About the author
Sara Korolevich serves as checkr.com’s editor and content manager. In this role, she produces educational resources for employers on a broad range of screening topics, including background check compliance and best practices. She also writes about Checkr’s company and product news to keep customers updated and informed.