Microchip with AI letters on it.

Employees Are Using AI Tools To Learn and to Help with Burnout

This Wired article may be behind a paywall, but I wanted to talk about it anyway, just for the headline:

Burnout Is Pushing Workers to Use AI—Even if Their Boss Doesn’t Know

A typical conversation I have is about whether employees use AI. I’ve quickly pointed out that even if you’ve not officially sanctioned it or purchased a license, they’re at least dabbling at getting work done with ChatGPT, Copilot for Windows, etc. Some have probably even bought their own ChatGPT licenses or generated graphics and text from some GererativeAI tool.

Talented and intelligent workers will do that. They know their jobs are at risk and must learn to use AI tools, even if their employers are still in “wait-and-see” mode.

For those reasons, I’ve assumed that we all have employees using AI tools without waiting for an official company rollout. But the reason in that article makes a lot of sense, too.

If you were burned out, overworked, and struggling to keep up with the demands of the job, and a tool promised to save you 30 minutes or more to get your work done, you’d figure out how to use it, too.

Of course, most of them are trying to use these tools without training and instruction from the company, so this is risky. One, because you have no idea what they are doing and what results they’re getting. Two, they might become even more burned out trying to teach themselves before they get to the part where it helps them save time.

On the other hand, I’ve been piloting AI tools and thinking a lot about how to train our users, and I don’t know what that training looks like yet. It’s not easy. I’m not surprised that very few companies have done any training with their employees. This is new territory that seems to change almost daily. I tried to create some basic documentation comparing features and workflows for a couple of different tools, but before the rest of it was done, an entire section was outdated. New features have been rolled out.

How do we develop training that helps when it’s a moving target? I don’t know yet, but I know we need to because we aren’t going to stop overworked people from using tools to save time. As an advocate for mental health, I don’t want to remove a tool that might help with employee burnout. I want to do more for them. Your over-stressed employees deserve that.

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