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Confusion Over Generative AI Drives Employee Division

New research released by Veritas Technologies shows that confusion over generative AI in the workplace is simultaneously creating a divide between employees while also increasing the risk of exposing sensitive information. 

More than 70% of office workers acknowledge using generative AI tools such as ChatGPT at work—including risky behavior like inputting customer details, employee information, and company financials. However, nearly a quarter (23%) do not use these tools and think coworkers who do should have their pay docked. Regardless of their disposition towards generative AI, 90% say guidelines and policies on its use are important, but only 36% of employers currently provide any mandatory directions to employees.  

“Without guidance from leaders around generative AI, some employees are using it in ways that put their organizations at risk, even as others hesitate to use it at all and resent their colleagues for doing so,” says Sonya Duffin, solutions lead at Veritas. “Neither situation is ideal. Organizations could face regulatory compliance violations or miss out on opportunities to drive productivity. Both issues can be resolved with generative AI policies on what’s okay and what’s not.”  

Roughly a third (31%) of office workers admit to inputting potentially sensitive information like customer details, employee information, and company financials into generative AI tools. This is likely due to 61% failing to recognize that doing so could leak sensitive information publicly and 63% not understanding how this could cause their organizations to run afoul of data privacy compliance regulations.   

While 56% of office workers say they use generative AI tools at least weekly, 28% say they do not use them at all. The reason this sizable portion of the workforce is not using generative AI may be because only 57% of respondents have received any guidance from their employers on what is acceptable and what is not.  

This has at least two negative outcomes: First, it increases the potential of employee infighting and negative workplace culture, as 53% say that some employees using generative AI have an unfair advantage over those who are not. Second, many office workers are not increasing their efficiency with the help of the appropriate use of generative AI. For example, those who are using it say they benefit from faster access to information (48%), increased productivity (40%), automating mundane tasks (39%), generating new ideas (34%), and finding advice on workplace challenges (22%).  

More than three-quarters (77%) of employees want guidelines, policies, or training from their employers on using generative AI within their organizations. The top reasons given include employees wanting to know how to use the tools in an appropriate way (68%), to reduce risk (43%), and to create a level playing field in the workplace (25%).  

“The message is clear: thoughtfully develop and clearly communicate guidelines and policies on the appropriate use of generative AI and combine that with the right data compliance and governance toolset to monitor and manage their implementation and ongoing enforcement,” Duffin says. “Your employees will thank you and your organization can enjoy the benefits without increasing risk.”    

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