Employers and staff ready to embrace AI rather than fear it

19 May 2023

  • Over half (56%) of employers think we should embrace AI in the workplace
  • 49% of workers think we should embrace AI in the workplace – with less than a fifth (13%) who believe we should fear the impact of AI
  • However, just one in five (21%) of organisations say they are currently using AI tools such as ChatGPT
  • Less than one in five workers (15%) say they have used an AI tool in their current role – with engagement towards using AI increasing for professions such as marketing and technology
  • Both employers and workers are keen to embrace the positive impacts that AI can bring, rather than fear it according to new research.

Research conducted Hays, which received over 8,800 responses from professionals and employers across the UK found that over half (56%) of employers think we should embrace AI in the workplace. Just over a third (36%) of employers are undecided if we should embrace AI, whilst only 8% of employers think it should be feared.

Workers share a similar sentiment with close to half (49%) saying we should embrace AI in the workplace, and only 13% saying they think it should be feared.

One in five employers using AI tools

Just over one in five (21%) organisations say they are currently using AI tools such as ChatGPT. The main reason for not utilising AI tools currently is a lack of awareness or understanding of the benefits (25%).

When it comes to staff using AI tools, the majority of employers (66%) intend to allow staff to use AI tools but will monitor usage. 3% of employers say they have already banned the use of AI tools and 18% intend to ban tools like ChatGPT.

Less than one in five workers (15%) say they have already used an AI tool such as ChatGPT in their current role – with this figure increasing to close to a quarter (23%) for professionals aged between 20-29.

Usage of AI tools is higher across a number of professions including marketing, as over a third (37%) of professionals say they have used an AI tool in their current role. 30% of tech workers say they have utilised AI tools, followed by 23% of professionals working in architecture and 17% of those working in sales.

Upskilling needed to support wider use of AI

Over half (51%) of employers say they do not have the right skills in their workforce to make the best use of AI tools and technology. For those employers who said they have skills gaps, 45% said both technical and soft skills are lacking, whereas 38% said it was mainly technical skills needed to use specific AI tools.

So far, over a quarter (27%) of employers say they are investing in training for staff to upskill in AI tools and technologies.

Simon Winfield, Managing Director of Hays UK & Ireland, comments: “It’s clear from our research that the sentiment towards using AI within the workplace is largely positive, however the uptake and usage remains low whilst employers across all sectors get to grips with how AI could benefit their organisations.

What’s concerning is the speed at which AI technology is progressing, yet over half of employers say they don’t have the right skills within their workforce to make the best use of AI and technology. It’s a huge opportunity for professionals to upskill in getting to know how AI could affect their profession, and how they can utilise AI tools to advance their careers.”

Sue Daley, Director for Tech and Innovation at techUK, commented: “AI can bring many benefits to businesses and their members of staff, however, as AI innovation continues to advance at an unprecedented pace, it is crucial for employers to invest in upskilling their workforce. Hays’ research clearly shows that embracing AI and providing training opportunities for staff to master AI tools will not only bridge the digital skills gap the UK is currently facing but also position businesses as innovative and desirable in the evolving job market.”

Simon Winfield, continued: “It’s evident from our research that not enough employers are on the front foot by investing in training for staff to upskill in AI tools and tech. Being behind the curve in offering upskilling and training for staff will lead to skills gaps worsening and run the risk of not being an attractive organisation for new hires, amongst other factors.”




About the research: The survey was conducted between 13th April and 9th May 2023 and received 8,853 responses. 3,483 responses were from employers and 5,370 responses were from professionals



Helen Flannery
Senior PR Manager
T: 020 3040 0282
M: 07548 778306

About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is the world’s leading specialist in workforce solutions and recruitment, such as RPO and MSP. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK, Germany and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe, Latin America and Asia. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 31 December 2022, the Group employed over 13,000 staff operating from 255 offices in 33 countries. For the year ended 30 June 2022:

  • the Group reported net fees of £1,189.4 million and operating profit of £210.1 million;
  • the Group placed around 83,750 candidates into permanent jobs and around 250,000 people into temporary roles;
  • 16% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 26% in Germany, 22% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 36% in Rest of World (RoW);
  • the temporary placement business represented 55% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 45% of net fees;
  • Technology is the Group’s largest division, with 26% of net fees, while Accountancy & Finance (14%) and Construction & Property (11%), are the next largest
  • Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, UAE, the UK and the USA
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