Employees use AI in secret at work, CEO says remote workers don’t work as hard

Plus, how to navigate mental health in a multigenerational workplace.

Greetings, comms pros! Let’s take a look at some recent news stories and see what we can learn from them.

1. Employees and their covert use of AI at work

The rise in popularity of generative AI continues to have impacts on how we view the world of work. But some employees are using AI in secret to accelerate their productivity.

The BBC reports::

Whether the technology is explicitly banned, highly frowned upon or giving some workers a covert leg up, some employees are searching for ways to keep using generative AI tools discreetly. The technology is increasingly becoming an employee backchannel: in a February 2023 study by professional social network Fishbowl, 68% of 5,067 respondents who used AI at work said they don’t disclose usage to their bosses.

Even in instances without workplace bans, employees may still want to keep their use of AI hidden, or at least guarded, from peers.

Can AI help us do our jobs more quickly? Sure it can! But there’s a debate to be had about the ethical frameworks of AI usage at work.  Using AI to help drive inspiration or simply employing it to help a project along while you do the legwork will likely be considered acceptable use cases, but hiding things from your employer and colleagues is not a great way to foster a transparent and trustworthy environment for working with automation.

Communicators should help set up clear guidelines around acceptable uses of AI, then work to ensure that they’re followed in order to create a more transparent workplace.

2. CEO blasts remote workers

Remote and hybrid work probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But if Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman had his way, things would be different. Schwartzman recently said that those who work from home “don’t work as hard” as their in-office counterparts while speaking at a panel at the Future Investment Initiative, adding that they aimed to save money on commuting, work attire, and lunches.

Are there benefits to in-office work that remote work can’t emulate? Of course, there are — but that doesn’t mean there’s no value to hybrid arrangements and that people who work from home don’t make valuable contributions.

People want and expect to hear messages from leaders that reinforce a sense of stability and culture, and even when leaders are speaking on panels to different audiences they should always assume it could be picked up by a journalist and come back to the workforce.

The most adored leaders take care to publicly reinforce that all employees, no matter their work situation, are integral parts of the team. Anything short of that risks negatively impacting the employer brand while alienating current and future talent in the process.

3. Mental health and the multigenerational workplace

As more members of Gen Z enter the workforce, a multigenerational approach to workplace communication should be a priority for comms pros. But how can you adopt a multigenerational approach to talking about mental health at work?

According to the Harvard Business Review:

The numbers also suggest generational discontent. Recent data from the American Psychological Association found that only 45% of Gen Zers reported that their mental health is very good or excellent, and a SHRM survey found that 27% of Generation Z reported feeling depressed by their job at least once per week in the last six months, compared to 18% of Millennials, 14% of Gen Xers and 7% of Baby Boomers and Traditionalists.

You can play a role in helping this wellness issue by segmenting the focus of your messages to address the distinct needs of Gen Z. Research and poll each generation to learn what they’re  looking for out of their wellness benefits in order to better and more effectively engage.

  1. How about some good news?

Have a great weekend comms all-stars!

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.


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