Artificial Intelligence (AI) has rapidly become an integral part of many industries, transforming the way businesses operate and the jobs that people do. However, this rapid adoption of AI, specifically generative AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, is raising concerns about the potential impact on workers’ mental health. The exponential surge of stress in the workplace, attributed to increased workloads and expectations, has prompted experts to call for a closer examination of the effects of AI on employees’ emotional well-being.
KPMG U.S. Deputy Chair and COO, Laura Newinski, has been sounding the alarm about the toll that the rapid transformation of jobs could have on the mental health of an already overstressed workforce. The pace and magnitude of change, along with the uncertainty it brings, can be particularly taxing. Newinski emphasizes the “whipsaw” effect brought on by the introduction of generative AI, in which workers who were previously unaware of the technology suddenly feel threatened by it.
As the tsunami of AI adoption continues to reshape industries, workers are bombarded with uncertainty about their job security, the potential changes in their roles, and the need to rescale their skills. This fear of the unknown can lead to heightened anxiety and stress among employees, creating a challenging environment for their mental well-being.
The concerns over AI’s impact on mental health are not unfounded. A recent survey conducted by KPMG among executive women found that 91% perceived a significant surge of stress in the workplace compared to pre-pandemic levels. Out of the respondents, 70% attributed this increase in stress to the mounting workloads and expectations. Moreover, nearly 6 out of 10 women reported having additional responsibilities related to managing the mental health and wellness of their teams on top of their own.
The survey results highlight the pressing need to address the impact of AI on employees’ emotional well-being. While it is difficult to determine the exact extent to which AI-related job changes contribute to workplace stress, it is crucial for employers to recognize and support their workers through these transformations.
Laura Newinski emphasizes the role of employers in helping workers navigate the changes brought about by AI. Building trust and providing guidance are key factors in alleviating employees’ concerns and fears. Employers must communicate how AI can be used responsibly and demonstrate how it augments and supports workers, making them more productive and efficient.
To ensure a smoother transition, employers should offer resources and training programs to help employees adapt to the new technology. This includes reskilling initiatives that enable workers to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills needed to work alongside AI tools. By actively addressing their employees’ concerns and providing them with the support they need, employers can minimize the negative impact on mental health during this transformative period.
In the face of AI-driven changes, leaders must encourage open discussions about self-care and mental well-being, normalizing conversations around these topics. By acknowledging the stress and anxiety that employees may experience, employers can foster a supportive work environment where individuals feel comfortable seeking help and support.
Furthermore, employers can implement strategies to promote work-life balance, such as flexible working hours or wellness programs. These initiatives can help alleviate stress and create a healthier work environment where employees can thrive despite the changes brought about by AI.
In addition to addressing the mental health impact of AI, companies must also prioritize ethical considerations in the adoption of AI technologies. It is crucial to establish guardrails and guidelines to ensure the responsible use of AI, safeguarding against any potential harm to employees or society as a whole.
Employers should provide training and education on the ethical implications of AI, helping employees understand the boundaries and potential risks associated with the technology. By fostering a culture of responsible AI use, companies can mitigate the negative effects and build trust among their workforce.
The rapid adoption of AI, particularly generative AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, has raised concerns about the potential impact on workers’ mental health. The significant changes brought about by AI can create stress and anxiety among employees, leading to a surge in workplace stress. Employers have a crucial role to play in supporting their workforce through these transformations, providing guidance, reskilling opportunities, and promoting open discussions about mental well-being. By prioritizing ethical considerations and responsible AI adoption, companies can ensure a healthier and more productive work environment, where AI is seen as a tool that augments and supports workers rather than a threat to their well-being.
First reported on Fox Business