How can we put people and their well-being first while continuing to innovate?
This question has occupied our minds for several years. To answer this, we have partnered with leading researchers with the objective to bridge the gap between the concept of well-being and science when it comes to our employees.
Researchers at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) used AtmanCo’s cognitive skills assessment to learn about the impact of artificial intelligence on the psychological health of a group of employees.
The results of the study revealed that the impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) at work puts humans and their psychological health at the heart of the debate regarding the implementation of AI in the daily lives of workers.
The (short) definition of artificial intelligence (AI)
AI is incredibly broad but put simply, it can be defined as a technology that allows automating a specific task, in a specific context. You can find many examples of AI around you; the phone in your pocket to facilitate communication with your colleagues, or the software and digital platforms you use every day.
AI research is booming mainly due to the positive effects associated with this technology, such as reducing the repetitive workload for your employees.
Until now, research has been focused on the development aspects of AI and its legislation.
The discovery of the psychological impacts of AI at work opens a new path of research on the importance of being more attentive and listening to our employees.
If you have or want to integrate artificial intelligence tools into your organization, this is your guide on how to make the AI experience as positive as possible for your employees.
An employee's perception of AI can anticipate whether it positively or negatively affects their psychological health.
What is psychological health?
Contrary to the common perception of psychological health, this concept does not represent happiness or well-being alone. It is more complex.
Psychological health is a continuum between well-being and psychological distress.
Good psychological health is therefore represented by high well-being and lower distress.
How do we support our well-being or the well-being of our employees? One way to answer this question is through a theory known as self-determination theory.
This theory suggests that: to increase our well-being, we must satisfy our basic needs, including:
- The need for competence,
- The need for autonomy,
- The need for affiliation.
If these are not satisfied, the impact could affect the level of well-being of your employees at work.
Apart from psychological health, these needs would also be related to the perception your employees have of the use of AI.
Cognitive ability to predict how our employees perceive AI
[Fun fact] A cognitive ability assessment does not measure intelligence as we used to believe.
While cognitive ability is considered one of the best predictors of job performance, this assessment measures whether an employee prefers to operate in concrete or abstract contexts, while measuring their ability to understand complex situations.
Implementing an AI tool in an organization is a new challenge for employees. They may perceive it as useful or threatening.
In other words, cognitive skills will allow us to modulate our perception in new or adverse situations.
The ability to understand complex situations would allow us to have greater confidence in our abilities and thus perceive this new tool more positively.
To date, research has found that:
Cognitive skills would play a role in an employee's perceived usefulness of artificial intelligence.
The perception influences the attitude that the employee adopts toward this new technology, which may or may not allow them to satisfy their basic needs.
HR best practices for all your AI projects
Keep in mind that your employees hold some of the power to implement a new technology successfully.
- Listen to your employees to promote the acceptance of artificial intelligence in their daily lives. Be curious about your employees' perceptions during your one-on-one and team meetings. You can even take the time to survey them on the subject.
- Involve your employees in the implementation of an AI tool. They will better understand its benefits and perceive it as a lever to facilitate their work instead of as an obstacle.
- Understand the psychological impacts of AI to anticipate the consequences associated with its implementation by setting up procedures to support and involve employees in cultivating their psychological health.
The equation works. If a new technology is accepted by your employees and their basic psychological needs are met, you may see an increase in their motivation, engagement, performance, and even see an impact on their retention.
7 questions to ask yourself before implementing a new AI technology
Here are some things to think about when it comes time to implement new technology in your organization.
- Is the purpose of this new tool clear to my employees?
- What are the benefits of this new technology? Have I presented them to my employees?
- What concerns do my employees have about this new technology?
- How do I want to support my employees in the implementation of this tool?
- How can I make the use of this tool more tangible for my employees?
- How will my employees be trained to use this new technology?
- What strategies can I use to involve my employees in the implementation of this type of tool?
Now that you’re armed with a better understanding of AI, psychological health, cognitive ability, and how they all connect, you’re well on your way to successfully introducing AI into your organization. While implementing any new technology comes with its own set of challenges, you can now feel more confident knowing your approaching it with knowledge, empathy, and understanding.
*This article is based on a study by Stamate, Sauvé and Denis (2021).