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More than Half of Generative AI Adopters Use Unapproved Tools at Work

  • Salesforce surveyed over 14,000 global workers across 14 countries for the latest iteration of its Generative AI Snapshot Research Series, ‘The Promises and Pitfalls of AI at Work.’ The research reveals that, despite the promise generative AI offers workers and employers, a lack of clearly defined policies around its use may be putting businesses at risk. 

While governments around the world — including the U.S. and the EU — have taken definitive and coordinated action to mitigate risk and commit to responsible use of AI, new data suggests businesses haven’t followed suit in implementing clear policies around its use. 

Recent findings from a survey of more than 14,000 workers across 14 countries uncovers that many users of generative AI in the workplace are leveraging the technology without training, guidance, or approval by their employer. Workers have recognized how critical generative AI is in advancing their own careers, and businesses must quickly respond with clear, trusted guidelines to ensure the technology is enterprise-ready and used responsibly.

Generative AI tools are penetrating the workplace without oversight

Over a quarter (28%) of workers are currently using generative AI at work, and over half without the formal approval of their employers. With an additional 32% expecting to use generative AI at work soon, it’s clear that penetration of the technology will continue — with or without oversight. 

Not only do workplace users tap into unapproved generative AI tools at work, they do so while still recognizing that the ethical and safe use of generative AI means adopting company-approved programs.

Users are also engaging in additional ethically questionable activities at work when using generative AI — for example, by passing off AI as their own work or inflating their ability to use the technology. 

  • 64% have passed off generative AI work as their own
  • 41% of workers would consider overstating their generative AI skills to secure a work opportunity 

The onus doesn’t fall entirely on the workers themselves — nearly 7 in 10 global workers have never completed or received training on how to use generative AI safely and ethically at work. 

Global workers report ambiguous or non-existent generative AI policies at work

Not only do respondents report a lack of training, workers around the world note their employers’ generative AI policies are not clearly defined or non-existent. 

Certain industries lag behind more than others — for example, 87% of global workers in the healthcare industry claim their company lacks clear policies. With the level of confidential data held in this industry and others, there is an urgency to skill up workers on responsible use. 

In fact, nearly 4 in 10 (39%) global workers say their employer doesn’t hold a strong opinion about generative AI use in the workplace.

To seize the benefits of generative AI, businesses must guide their workforce on responsible use

Whether or not they use generative AI in the workplace, workers recognize the impact of the technology on their careers — nearly half (47%) of workers believe mastering generative AI would make them more sought after in the workplace, over half (51%) believe it would result in increased job satisfaction, and 44% say it would mean they would be paid more than those who don’t master the technology. 

Users also say they are more productive and engaged since using the technology.

And half of global workers surveyed — regardless of whether they use generative AI or not — believe mastering generative AI will result in: 

  • Increased job satisfaction (51%)
  • Being sought after in the workplace (47%) 
  • Being paid more than those who do not master the technology (44%)

With clear guidelines, employees will be able to understand and address AI’s risks while also harnessing its innovations to supercharge their careers.

Paula Goldman, Chief Ethical and Humane Use Officer at Salesforce

“To realize AI’s full potential, it’s critical that we invest in the employees using the technology as much as the technology itself,” said Paula Goldman, Chief Ethical and Humane Use Officer at Salesforce. “With clear guidelines, employees will be able to understand and address AI’s risks while also harnessing its innovations to supercharge their careers.”  

More information:

Research methodology

Salesforce conducted a double-anonymous survey in partnership with YouGov October 18 – 31, 2023. It included over 14,000 full-time employees representing companies of a variety of sizes and sectors in 14 countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Switzerland, the Nordics, India, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, and the United Arab Emirates. The survey took place online.


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