Skip links

Studies show AI use makes staff drink more and feel lonely

Employees who use AI as a core part of their jobs feel lonelier, drink more, and suffer from insomnia more than employees who don’t. These are conclusions from four studies that two researchers present in Harvard Business Review. “To keep pace with competitors and reap the efficiency gains associated with deploying AI, many organisations have lost sight of their most important asset: the humans whose jobs are being fragmented into tasks that are increasingly becoming automated.”

As AI becomes more woven into the fabric of work, it will shape not just how we do our jobs, but also how we relate to each other as colleagues and as human beings, write David De Cremer, professor of management and technology at Northeastern University and Joel Koopman, professor of Business Administration at the Mays Business School of Texas A&M University.

“For this reason, it is essential that organisations understand that with the use of AI to create more efficient and productive workplaces, responsibility needs to be taken that the quality of employee’s interactions and the depth of their relationships with others is maintained.” 

“Accounting for the social costs when looking at the efficiency gains of AI implies that instead of treating AI as a way to replace human workers, it needs to be looked at as a tool capable of augmenting human potential and skills.” 

“And this augmenting perspective on AI can only succeed if the organisation can create fulfilling and socially connected jobs that impact positively the mental and physical health of its employees.”

Read Also:  Users expecting genAI to lead to higher salaries

The researchers say the studies show that the more employees collaborated with AI — as it helped to complete more tasks than ever — the more they felt socially deprived as work took over their entire day.

“These findings paint a complex picture of the social costs of AI in the workplace. On one level, AI-induced isolation may spur employees to invest more in their human relationships, to seek out the social nourishment they’re missing. But on a deeper level, it may erode the very foundation of those relationships — the sense of authentic, shared humanity that underpins true connection and collaboration and as a result undermine their mental and physical health.”

To fight these negative experiences, the researchers recommend companies:

  • Monitor employee well-being and social embeddedness in the organisation, not just performance. Regular surveys, check-ins, and feedback sessions can help surface issues before they fester. 
  • Redesign workflows. Instead of simply layering AI on top of existing processes, organisations must redesign workflows around the unique strengths of both humans and machines. They must create opportunities for employees to collaborate with AI in ways that enhance their autonomy, their sense of control and mastery, and their feeling that their job provides them with a sense of purpose. 
  • Think of AI as a tool. Instead of viewing AI merely as a means to automate and optimise, organisations must see it as a tool for enhancing the human experience at work. The goal of deploying AI systems should be to enrich employees’ jobs. The efficiency these systems create is an opportunity to support employees’ social and emotional needs. For example, AI can take over more tasks, and at the same time leaders must create dedicated spaces and times for employees to connect face-to-face. 
Read Also:  GenAI a door-opener for women

Moonshot News is an independent European news website for all IT, Media and Advertising professionals, powered by women and with a focus on driving the narrative for diversity, inclusion and gender equality in the industry.

Our mission is to provide top and unbiased information for all professionals and to make sure that women get their fair share of voice in the news and in the spotlight!

We produce original content, news articles, a curated calendar of industry events and a database of women IT, Media and Advertising associations.

    Do you want an experienced opinion on a job issue?
    Moonshot Manager is here to answer!

      Moonshot community sharing thoughts and ideas, in a anonymous, safe environment.