Slack, a Salesforce company, has released results from its latest Workforce Index, shedding light on the current state of AI in Australian workplaces.

Using AI tools at work is associated with a host of positive outcomes from improved productivity to higher employee satisfaction but executive urgency to incorporate AI is outpacing its use among employees; two-thirds of workers have still not tried AI tools and 93% do not consider AI outputs completely trustworthy for work-related tasks.

Urgency to incorporate AI tools into business operations has increased seven timesover the past six months – from 5% to 35% of executives – and is now a top concern above inflation or the broader economy.

Among desk workers who use AI tools, 81% say it’s improving their productivity and those who use AI show higher employee engagement and experience scores, including 22% higher overall satisfaction.Yet more than two-thirds of desk workers have never used AI at work,and nearly two in five say their company has no AI usage guidelines.

Just 7% of desk workers consider the outputs of AI completely trustworthy for work-related tasks, with 35% of desk workers saying AI results are only slightly or not at all trustworthy.

While young people are most likely to have experimented with AI tools, Gen Z men are 25% more likely to have tried AI tools compared with Gen Z women.

Salesforce Workforce Lab, Christina Janzer said, “The data shows that employees using AI are having an all-around markedly better time on the job. They’re not just more productive; they’re experiencing greater excitement, fulfilment and pride in their work. Leaders should take note that using AI at work is correlated with a host of positive associations.”

But what’s stopping more employees from experimenting with AI tools? Concerns about privacy and data security followed by mistrust of data quality and accuracy top the list of blockers that desk workers cite as limiting factors.

Slack CEO, Denise Dresser commented, “Companies have urgent, ambitious goals for AI in the enterprise and our research shows there are huge productivity benefits to be gained—but many leaders are still figuring out how to kickstart adoption among employees. While this is truly a seismic shift in the future of work, there are simple steps every business can take starting today to help onboard employees on AI while maintaining trust.”

How leaders can encourage AI update with the PET plan

Permission: To boost workplace AI use, clarify permission by establishing clear usage guidelines. Nearly two in five desk workers (37%) say their company has no AI policy. Desk workers at companies that have established permissions for AI use are nearly six times as likely to have experimented with AI tools.

Education & Training: Only a small percentage of global desk workers (15%) strongly agree that they have the education and training necessary to use AI effectively. Unsurprisingly, the more training and education workers have, the more likely they are to use AI tools, and those who are trained to use AI are up to 19 times as likely to report that AI is improving their productivity.

Education and training are fundamental to building trust in AI tools; desk workers who are well trained in AI are seven times as likely to trust AI tools to assist them with work-related tasks compared with desk workers lacking AI training.

Another significant factor in a desk worker’s likelihood to try AI and to consider it trustworthy is whether that worker feels their manager trusts them as an employee. Desk workers who feel trusted by their employers are 94% more likely to have tried AI for work-related tasks, and they’re also more trusting of AI’s accuracy and reliability.