AI and Your Employees' Mental Well-Being: 3 Tips for HR

25 Jul ‘23
4 min
Work performance
Self-confidence
Editorial Board OpenUp
Gecontroleerd door Psychologist Britt Slief
The rise of AI is perhaps the most impactful technological development of this century, permanently changing the way we work. Because AI’s future evolution is still unclear, it brings many uncertainties for your employees.

 

So how do you reassure employees in the midst of technological developments? How do you encourage them to embrace AI? And most importantly, how do you ensure a resilient workforce that is prepared for future changes?

 

In this article, we provide practical tips to both reassure and prepare your employees for the ever-accelerating developments of AI – by fostering a corporate culture of resilience.

Preparing your employees for AI: 3 tips

  1. Communicate and reassure
  2. Train and experiment
  3. Foster flexibility and mental resilience

Employees’ concerns about AI


Research by Boston Consulting Group shows that 39% of workers are worried about the rapid development of artificial intelligence. This is not so surprising, as according to
OECD, technological development will result in 44% of jobs being partially or radically changed in the near future.

 

Fear of the unknown can make your employees feel overwhelmed, or experience a loss of control. You hear about AI all the time, but you don’t really know where to start”, explains psychologist Britt Slief.

 

Want to know more about AI? 🤖Read AI in The Workplace: How it Impacts Your Organisation and The Well-Being of Your Employees

 

3 tips to prepare your employees for AI developments

 

As an HR or management team, you want to support your teams as best you can with their AI concerns. You can do this in three core ways, all of which contribute to a resilient corporate culture:

 

1. Communicate and reassure 

 

To reassure your employees, it is important to be transparent in raising the changes AI brings. 

 

Open communication is one of the most important parts of a healthy company culture. “Being transparent also breeds trust among your employees. And that in turn is necessary for support from the whole organisation as soon as things change. It then helps to get all noses in the same direction”, adds Britt Slief.

 

What concrete steps can you take?

 

  • Listen to your team’s AI concerns attentively, and be aware that a one-size-fits-all approach is not effective. Perceptions in AI may vary significantly across teams and departments, particularly based on the nature of roles and how AI specifically impacts them. For example, leaders are generally much more optimistic than frontline employees about AI (62% vs. 42%, according to research by BCG)
  • Have managers proactively ask about someone’s concerns about AI, for example 1-on-1 or in team discussions.
  • Emphasise that jobs are not simply replaced by technology, but that technology can help your teams on a daily basis.
  • Be open about your own strategy with artificial intelligence. And if you use AI applications for internal processes, for example in HR, always ask permission for employees’ data.
  • Evaluate how you can concretely respond to your teams’ concerns. This could involve training (see second tip), an information session with an artificial intelligence expert or a meeting with a coach or expert psychologist to relieve any stress caused by these changes.

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2. Train and encourage experimentations

 

Boston Consulting Group research clearly showed that those with little experience of AI are more likely to be anxious about it and less optimistic about it. But at the same time, 61% of employees are also curious about AI.

 

“The answer to fear of the unknown is familiarising employees with AI technology,” explains psychologist Britt. “Probably a lot of people don’t know how to use it very well.” 

 

What concrete steps can you take?

 

  • Provide training on how to (safely) use AI tools.
  • Encourage your employees to explore how AI applications can make their work easier, faster or more interesting, e.g. with an external course or in an internal ‘AI working group’.
  • Don’t forget the importance of practice, either. Britt adds as a tip: “Besides getting information about AI, it can help to see it at work in practice.” 

 

You can let employees practise using generative AI like ChatGPT themselves – for example, to write a report – or share a few tips with each other in a monthly meeting. And if HR, IT or the data department in your organisation is going to use a new technology, give a (online) demonstration to colleagues. 

 

Leading by example is also essential. HR managers and all managers in the organisation should also experiment with and learn generative AI, before encouraging other employees to do so.

 

 

3. Foster flexibility and mental resilience

 

A healthy company culture in which you cultivate positivity and trust will also help your employees cope with rapid changes at work. Like the rise of AI.

 

Mental resilience means not letting circumstances throw you off course. A resilient employee recognises that we can grow through change. That person may also worry, but has the self-confidence to bend along and face challenges.

 

You build a resilient organisation by helping employees to actively work on their mental well-being. And of course, it helps if you also provide resources for this, such as an online platform for mental well-being.

 

What concrete steps can you take?

 

  • Lead with a strengths-based approach: Strengths-based leadership is the ability to identify and make the best use of your own and your team members’ strengths. When it comes to promoting resiliency, focusing on strengths is essential as it allows employees to accelerate in their areas of expertise.
  • Encourage employee self-care:  Actively encourage employees to dedicate time for self-care during the workday. This can include promoting work-life balance boundaries, offering flexible work schedules, supporting employees in doing physical activity (such as walking meetings, a fitness allowance, or cycle to work schemes), and giving employees the right platform to support their mental well-being. 
  • Build an internal support network for your teams: Surrounding your team with positive, supportive mentors is a great step in building a more resilient organisation. 71% of employees with a mentor say their company provides them with good opportunities to advance in their career, compared with 47% of those without a mentor.
  • Set realistic goals with your employees: Employees who are given goals to achieve consistently grow in confidence and resilience with every milestone reached. Using a constructive goal setting approach, managers can establish and encourage steady goal progress while keeping employees motivated and progressing at every step of the way. To avoid overwhelming employees, managers can set smaller, achievable milestones and check-in on progress regularly. 

 

Want to know more about resilience? 👉 This is how to create a resilient culture that is good for the well-being of your organisation

 

The Next Steps You Can Take to Support Employee Mental Well-being with AI 

 

Preparing employees for the advancements of AI takes commitment, training, and above all else, prioritising mental-well being to create a resilient workforce. Discover more about offering your employees a mental well-being platform that includes sessions with psychologists, self-guided care, mindfulness, and more. 

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