Featured in today's newsletter:
- Counterintuitive tips for being a workplace ally.
- A prompt template for using ChatGPT as an editor.
- ‘Feedback’ gets a rebrand.
AI and Work Radar
- Organizations’ policies around AI use continue to lag behind office workers’ actual use of the technology: More than half of workers are now using generative AI in their roles, and just under 10% do so daily, according to new research from the Conference Board. While 71% of those who use the tools say their managers or employers are aware, more than two-thirds of respondents said their workplaces either don’t have or haven’t finished developing their AI policies.
- Powering AI data centers and training large-language models is resource-intensive, requiring massive amounts of energy and water. Microsoft, for example, shared in its 2022 environmental report that its water usage had increased by 34% from the year prior, a spike attributed to the company’s AI-related services.
- One challenge for employers in AI adoption is figuring out how to make sure workers have enough oversight, including building workflows that ensure employees consistently check the work produced by AI tools for bias and inaccuracies. “If you put an AI in there, and it works five times in a row, I can see it’s like: If you don’t double check it, what’s the worst that can happen?” Rosalia Tungaraza, assistant vice president of AI at Baptist Health, told The Wall Street Journal.
- Matt Shumer, CEO of the AI writing tool HyperWrite, shared on X (formerly Twitter) a useful template he developed for prompting ChatGPT to edit a piece of writing, a system that starts with summarizing the piece’s key points and then taking the piece through multiple rounds of revision.
AI research spotlight: There’s a trust gap between employees and employers—and it’s a positive thing for leaders. The most recent Edelman Trust Barometer report, Trust at Work, showed that most employees trust their employers more than they do other institutions by an astounding 23-point margin.
We found a similar trend when we asked people what they thought about their employers and AI. Individual contributors Charter surveyed in August told us they primarily rely on their employers for information and education on how to work with AI. We found that overall, employees want clear communication from and to partner with their employers on how to make AI work for their organization.
We’ll be featuring our complete analysis on how to become an organization that your employees trust in our Charter Pro research briefing tomorrow. Sign up now to receive it and get access to all of our other journalism, events, and research, now for just $299 a year.
Focus on Better Approaches to Being an Ally at Work
Some three-quarters of workers say they’ve felt excluded at work, according to new global EY research. One way for organizations to make themselves more inclusive is to intentionally cultivate a culture of allyship, notes organizational psychologist Meg Warren, an associate professor of management at Western Washington University who studies workplace allyship and inclusion. But many workers and workplaces, she argues, aren’t going about it the right way.
We spoke with Warren about common myths around what it means to be an ally and how to embed allyship into organizational culture. Here are excerpts from our conversation, edited for length and clarity:
What are common misconceptions about workplace allyship?
One of the most common ways of thinking about how to be an ally is: If you see discrimination occur, the first step is to call it out. But in study after study that we have done—experiments, qualitative research, quantitative research, survey research—across the board, what we keep finding over and over again is that that is the riskiest way to do allyship. If an ally speaks up and confronts the perpetrator’s bias to support the victim, the victim is more likely to get worse backlash from the perpetrator and other observers. And potential allies are less likely to step up as an ally if confronting bias in this way is the only thing that is understood as allyship. It is much more risky, and you're more likely to burn bridges with other employees and other folks in the organization.
A lot of folks will probably still feel like they must do it, because that's helpful for the organization and for equity. But if it's not helping the victim as much, they may want to reconsider other ways of being allies. This is not to say ‘Don't call out bias.’ It's just kind of a sharp tool. Be careful when you use it. Use it when it's really important and consider from a variety of different strategies what is the best fit. When there is discrimination, it is possible that sometimes a victim may say, ‘I don't really want to get into this, I don't want to call this out, I don't want someone else calling it out. This is one that I want to let go. I have other battles I would like help for.’
At the same time, a leader may decide that allowing this to pass right now is not good for the culture of the organization. It allows this to be seen as normalized and acceptable. So sometimes what a victim wants may be at odds with what is best for the organization in terms of moving ahead towards more equity. The leader might decide that rather than making a point about this with this particular victim in mind, they have a more generalized conversation about how not to engage in these sorts of discriminatory behaviors, without pulling attention to this one person. Are there other ways to do more inclusion work and allyship work without it being a focus on this person?
What are some other approaches?
One useful strategy is highlighting strengths, pivoting the conversation if someone is being discriminated against or at the receiving end of microaggressions. Let's say their competency’s being questioned. Rather than calling out the bias and saying ‘This is not a fair accusation,’ pivoting is saying, ‘Here are all the amazing reasons why this person is really strong, so obviously where you're coming from is not accurate.’ We see from our research that this has long-term effectiveness for changing the situation and starting to move people towards equity. It has less backlash, so it's better for the victim in that way. And from the ally’s perspective, there's less risk involved.
Another more proactive one is what we call ‘impression promotion.’ If you see on the horizon that there might be a situation that's going to be biased for a colleague—one example is when you know that a colleague is pregnant and you may see people starting to question their competency—you could proactively start to promote the impression of this person within your team. Keep reminding folks about the work that they're doing, the achievements that they have, so people already know not to start thinking of this person as someone who will be incompetent in the next few months.
Read a transcript of our conversation, including Warren’s research on the gap between allies’ self-perceived and actual effectiveness.
What Else You Need to Know
Three-fourths of workers worldwide feel excluded at work, according to a new EY survey of workers in the US, UK, Singapore, and India, while some 56% of respondents said they don’t feel comfortable sharing aspects of their identity at work.
- Survey respondents cited regular check-ins with managers and flexible work among the top factors that help them feel a greater sense of inclusion. (Charter Pro subscribers can access our template for weekly one-on-ones, as well as our guide to more productive one-on-ones and our toolkit for fostering psychological safety.)
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new Covid vaccine. As part of a plan to add Covid boosters to the regimen of annual vaccinations that include the seasonal flu vaccine and RSV shots for older adults and infants, federal officials granted full approval for a reformulated Covid vaccine.
- The shots, manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, target the XBB.1.5 variant that was dominant earlier this year.
- The CDC recommends that all Americans six months and older receive the shot this fall in order to avoid a winter surge. The shots are now available at pharmacies, health clinics, and other providers.
- Amid the current surge, organizations can refresh their messaging around Covid safety at work. “It’s more communicating to your workforce about the policies and programs and practices that are in place to support them,” such as paid time off and flexible work for those who get sick or need to care for a sick dependent, Susan Peters, a research scientist at Harvard’s Center for Work, Health, and Wellbeing, told Charter in a recent interview.
Bias remains a hiring hurdle for candidates without college degrees, even as a growing number of employers—including Google, IBM, Bank of America, and several US states—drop their four-year degree requirements for many positions.
- While more than half of hiring managers in a recent survey from OneTen, a hiring network for Black professionals, said that their organizations would benefit from a skills-based approach to hiring, less than a third had actually implemented such an approach.
- Managers’ top reservations about hiring candidates without degrees included beliefs that they would lack soft skills and that they were likelier to have exaggerated their work histories, the survey found, with nearly half of respondents indicating each of these as a concern.
- Effectively implementing skills-based hiring requires employers to make sure job descriptions focus on competencies over qualifications, expanding their recruiting pools beyond universities, and training hiring managers to mitigate bias in their candidate evaluations.
Inflation-adjusted incomes fell in 2022 for the third year in a row. After adjusting for inflation, US median household income was $74,580 in 2022, 2.3% less than the year prior and 4.7% less than its peak in 2019. The decrease was driven partly by high inflation.
- As many pandemic-era supports expired in 2022, the poverty rate increased 4.6 percentage points to 12.4%, as measured by the supplemental poverty measure (SPM), a figure that factors in government aid. The SPM child poverty rate more than doubled, rising from a record low of 5.2% in 2021 to 12.4% in 2022.
- Since December 2022, wages have grown faster than inflation, leaving many economists optimistic that 2023 inflation-adjusted incomes will buck the trend and begin increasing again.
Here are some of the best tips and insights from the past week for managing yourself and your team:
- Use a tab manager to keep your web browsing organized. Get control of your tab overload with a browser extension that lets you save, organize, and then close out of the seemingly endless number of websites you may have open at any given time.
- Aim for 85%. Putting in 85% effort, tracking to hit your goals 85% of the time, or making decisions with 85% of information can help you maintain a challenging enough workload to continue learning while preventing burnout caused by perfectionism.
- Plan your next steps with a career-mapping platform. Digital platforms like the Labor Department’s O*NET offer workers a way to visualize their career trajectory and achieve their goals, with embedded tools like career questionnaires and suggestions for specific career paths based on data from peers in the same industry.
- Borrow techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy to cope with tech stress. If AI’s increasing role in your workplace or your job is causing anxiety or leading you to catastrophize, try CBT tactics to create new ways of thinking about the technology. One is to reframe the situation as an opportunity rather than a challenge. Another is to build your skills in a domain you’re more comfortable with, which in turn can help build confidence in less familiar areas.
Feed it forward. In an attempt to make feedback less anxiety-inducing for workers, some employers are rebranding it as “feedforward” to emphasize a forward-looking approach to workers’ growth. Others are now calling it “perspectives.”
- Also being rebranded at some organizations: the employee review, which has been replaced with “connect” conversations.
RSVP no. As more workers place a greater emphasis on protecting their work-life balance, they’re losing interest in happy hours, office parties, and other social events that take place outside of nine-to-five hours.
- “The flake-out rate is so much higher at events now,” one worker, whose goodbye party from a previous job this summer saw lackluster attendance, lamented to The Wall Street Journal.