Study Finds Applying Generative AI Correctly Can Improve Productivity by 40% 

By: Sarah Roberts
a woman and a man working on a computer in a modern looking office

Generative AI can boost the performance of highly skilled employees by as much as 40% according to a new study by professors from Harvard Business School, The Wharton School, The Warwick Business School and MIT Sloan. These improvements make gen AI the shiny new tool for business leaders to consider. However, understanding the right ways and areas to apply it, as well as help your teams feel comfortable using it, is a different story.

Any time there’s a new app or technology you’re springing on your employees to learn, some are bound to find it daunting and be reluctant to use it. However, gen AI is not one to put on the back burner for later. Business leaders who are applying it correctly are already reaping the benefits to grow their companies and increase their profits. Here are some tips on how to successfully incorporate generative AI into your workplace.  

Telling results from study on applying gen AI

The hype surrounding generative AI might make it seem like the technology is ready to take on nearly anything. Overconfidence in the capabilities of AI, though, could present a problem for businesses that don’t approach the tool with a clear plan and consideration of its true strengths and weaknesses. 

The study also found that in the wrong situations, the tool can even harm employee performance. Researchers looked at two tasks – one where generative AI (in this case ChatGPT) performs well, and one that was just outside of its capabilities. Those using the technology for a task that it is well suited for performed 40% better than those not using the tool. However, those using ChatGPT for a task outside of its capabilities performed 13% worse than the control group.  

Interestingly, when the participants received some training on how to use ChatGPT, they performed a little better when using it for the right tasks. However, even after training they performed 24% worse when using it in an area it wasn’t designed for versus the control group. 

One of the researchers suggested that the reason for this reality is that people tend to “switch off their brains” and go with the output of the tool, even when that output’s quality is subpar.  

The results showcase the power of generative AI to make employees more productive and the critical importance of identifying the right use-cases for the technology.  

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Identifying the right ways to use generative AI 

It’s clear that generative AI is great for certain tasks. ChatGPT can produce clear text that serves many workplace purposes, including time consuming ones like drafting many versions of a sales email tailored to different audiences. Image generators like DALL-E can convert text-based prompts into new, unique images to complement marketing efforts.  

The key here is to find tools tailored to meet a specific need. For instance, tools like Tome rely on generative AI to create professional, unique slide decks for sales pitches, meetings and other purposes. Verbit’s new tool, Gen.V, leans on generative AI to produce useful summaries of transcripts to help students study more effectively. Other tools help with spreadsheets and even coding. There are so many useful applications, but it’s critical to also investigate generative AI’s limitations.  

One of the most notable mistakes companies and individuals are already making is relying on generative AI for information. The tool can state in convincing language “facts” that are entirely fabricated. As a result, using generative AI to write anything that is based on facts or sources, from a news update to a legal motion, is very risky. These shortcomings make it important to have careful human oversite of any AI outputs to avoid embarrassing errors, bad PR or even legal repercussions. As a result, it will be necessary to have employees who know when and how to use AI effectively. However, reports suggest that finding these individuals could be a challenge.  

Helping teammates overcome technophobia 

Another hurdle for modern businesses results from a lack of personnel with AI know-how and a potential reluctance to learn and adopt these new tools. This fear of the latest technology is nothing new. With generative AI though, such concerns are more widespread and growing. A recent survey found that 38% of individuals fear that AI will replace some or all of their roles. Against that backdrop, it’s likely that employers will see some resistance to these new tools, which employees may feel are replacing their positions and putting their livelihoods at risk.  

Such employee fears will ultimately impact employers. For instance, 66% of those concerned about AI impacting their roles said that their employer believes their workplace is mentally healthier than it really is. Also, because of their concerns, 46% plan to look for another job.  

Fortunately, there are several ways that employers can combat these negative feelings about generative AI.  

Promote and offer AI-focused training 

Employees who learn how to leverage AI will become more valuable to their employers. Since generative AI is so new, employers can help fill their need for knowledgeable employees by providing them with training and education opportunities. Here are some training considerations to make. 

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Improve communication channels  

Many employees currently feel unsure about how generative AI will impact their jobs. Some people are excited about its capabilities, while others feel that their employer might soon replace them with a chatbot. Businesses leaders who want to keep valuable members of their workforce should be communicating about how they foresee AI changing practices and roles. If employees are left guessing, they may start looking for another role where they feel less threatened. Without clear communications, employers may lose people they wanted to keep.  

Create a policy that encourages strategic incorporation of AI 

Recent statistics indicate that just over half of the population hasn’t used generative AI. Many others may have used it, but just out of curiosity or for fun, not for work. Without having tried or learned about the capabilities of generative AI, employees might not realize how it could help them get more work done.  

It’s likely that many people who are reluctant to try these new tools aren’t sure how their employer feels about their use. Employers can overcome these issues by creating generative AI policies that explain how employees can and can’t use it, which technology the company allows and any that the business may want their teams to avoid. For instance, employers may want to be clear about which information they don’t want their employees to use in programs, like ChatGPT, because of data security concerns

With the right training, open communication and clear policies, businesses will be in a good place to benefit from generative AI. 

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Make plans now to embed more gen AI into your company’s future 

Business leaders who do research and understand how and where gen AI can be applied correctly will see an uptick in team productivity. It is important to stay vigilant in understanding generative AI’s limitations too. Taking the time to apply AI and teach your team members more about it will help not just your bottom line, but help you get true buy-in and ideas from your teams on how to further implement it.

At Verbit, our leadership is constantly reviewing data and listening to podcasts on the topic. Our own application of gen AI to our transcription technology came as a result of a company hackathon. With our new gen AI addition, Gen.V., our customers are now able to reap more benefits than receiving a transcript alone. We’ve been able to help users lean on gen AI to scan their transcripts faster, produce titles of them, have keywords predetermined for them and more. These applications are helping them to work more productively once they receive our transcripts. 

Contact Verbit to learn more about how our gen AI applications and transcription solutions are boosting productively and aiding accessibility initiatives that support employees and audiences with disabilities around the world.