Featured in today's briefing:

  • Why we’re often too quick to relax our judgment around AI outputs. 
  • Declining promotion rates for Black workers. 
  • Using AI to achieve a calmer inbox.

AI and Work Radar

  • People may put less effort into a task when working in conjunction with AI, according to a new study in the journal Frontiers in Robotics and AI. The study authors noted that “social loafing”—the phenomenon in which some members of a group lean out and rely on their teammates to pick up the slack—also occurs in human-robot pairings. 
  • JPMorgan Chase has announced that its AI tools, including AI-powered customer recommendations for credit cards and recommendations for workers managing client relationships, are now providing the bank with additional revenue. JPMorgan had set a goal of generating $1.5 billion in additional value from AI this year.
  • Organizations are willing to pay an average of 47% more for IT workers and 38% for sales and marketing workers with AI skills and expertise, according to a new survey by Access Partnership and Amazon Web Services. For finance workers, the average wage premium for AI knowledge was 37%; for HR workers, it was 30%. (This survey mirrors job-posting data workforce-intelligence firm Revelio Labs shared with Charter Pro that also shows AI wage premiums.)
  • Sales teams can use AI to drastically reduce the prep time that goes into personalizing outreach. AI tools can, for example, summarize shareholder calls to help salespeople identify potential clients’ business needs, or track an organization’s business metrics to help sales workers better time their messages. 

Focus on Getting the Most Out of AI

“In a way, we’re all startups again,” declared A.Team founder and CEO Raphael Ouzan at the AI x Future of Work Summit the company hosted this past week. The acceleration of generative AI has forced even the most established companies to experiment and rapidly transform their existing business models. “The homepage on Google generates hundreds of billions of dollars—you don't want to mess with that,” said Ouzan. “And yet they are messing with that, and they're putting a component of generative AI right on that homepage that literally says, ‘This is experimental. Watch out for the results.’” 

Embracing a startup mindset around AI is one of several pieces of advice for organizations that we heard at two separate AI events this week. At both A.Team’s summit and the Evident AI Symposium, we listened to insights from leaders—including a chief people officer at an automotive tech supplier and multiple data and analytic executives at banks—about how AI is changing their ways of doing business.

Here are some takeaways from those events:

  • Continually remind employees to apply their judgment over the long term. Vahe Andonians, chief technology officer and chief product officer of Cognaize, said that we need humans to apply their judgment to AI outputs even when we no longer need to be checking its facts. “I'm going to steal from Nietzsche,” he said, “It should be humans because we are the only ones that can suffer. AI is not going to suffer…so the judgment layer should be us.” George Lee, co-head of the office of applied innovation at Goldman Sachs, added that one thing his team has been focused on is how to encourage employees to keep a sharp eye, even when the AI system is performing well: “After the 10th experience of it looking just great, are you going to pay attention?” (A recent study on BCG consultants, covered by Charter, illustrated the danger of employees ‘switching off their brains’ when working with impressive AI systems.)
  • Just do something. That was the advice of Jeff McMillan, head of analytics, data, and innovation at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, who led the effort to create a tool, built on OpenAI’s GPT-4, for the firm’s wealth advisors. “We went from driving horse-drawn carriages around the streets of New York City and then someone gave me a BMW,” he said. McMillan noted that prioritizing speed led to a less-than-smooth rollout—”We piloted for nine months. We had…20,000 pieces of feedback because the day we went live with this thing, it was not producing high quality”—but that the experience enabled his team to learn a lot, quickly, about how to move forward. His advice is to “get the smartest people you have in the room, engage with these tools in a controlled playground, and invent.” What you shouldn’t do, said McMillan, is spend too much time deciding which model you’re going to go with. “Honestly, they’re all BMWs.”

Charter Pro members can read here more insights from these two events, including predictions from bank leaders about what organizations should prioritize in their AI adoption. Sign up for a discounted Charter Pro membership here to access this coverage.

What Else You Need to Know

Gains in career advancement for Black professionals have stalled. Promotion rates for first-time management roles among Black workers have fallen to 2019 levels, according to a new McKinsey report. 

  • That reverses gains after companies committed to ambitious diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts following the murder of George Floyd in 2020.
  • Last year, Black women received their first promotion into a management role just over half as often as men of all races, and Black men two-thirds as often, both steep drops from promotion rates for Black workers in 2021. Promotion rates for white men and white women remained relatively consistent during the same period. 
  • Fewer first-step promotions have long-term effects for Black workers’ careers, translating into depressed lifetime earnings and delays or limits in future promotions into more senior roles. 

Millions of Americans working informal gigs may be excluded from current employment figures. The number of adults counted as employed would increase by as much as 5.1 percentage points  if those who earn money through gig work, like house cleaning and driving for rideshare apps were fully included, according to a new paper by researchers from Hebrew University Business School and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

  • Employment figures are based on the Current Population Survey, which asks respondents to self-report if they have worked in the preceding two weeks. Many workers who remain uncounted may be those who don’t rely on their gigs as a primary source of income, making them less likely to see their jobs as jobs and therefore more likely to answer “no.” 
  • Researchers identified uncounted workers by asking about specific paid activities like babysitting, driving for Uber, or other gigs. They point to these workers as a potentially untapped source of labor supply, given many gig workers’ desire to work additional hours. 

The University of California’s decision to dramatically pull back from  carbon offsets highlights the challenges organizations face in reliably reducing net emissions. The university system announced that it will no longer rely on third-party carbon-offset companies to achieve its 2025 carbon neutrality goal, pointing to a lack of reliability in existing carbon markets. Instead, it will instead focus on cutting emissions. 

  • Many offsetprojects have been shown to overstate their carbon  impact, leading to charges of greenwashing. 
  • Some carbon offsets will remain a small part of the University of California’s climate strategy. Instead of relying on the voluntary carbon market, however, the university system will work with faculty, staff, and students to create its own offsets and develop its own methods for assessing outside projects. 

More than three-quarters of hybrid workers would come to the office more frequently if paid more for in-person work, according to  a recent NORC poll, though just 4% of the organizations surveyed offered such an incentive.

  • Some 72% said the same of commuter benefits, offered by roughly a third of the organizations surveyed. 
  • Nearly 90% of HR representatives said their organizations hadn’t introduced any new incentives to bring workers back to the office, despite the fact that fewer than a third said that employees were happy about an office return.
  • Some workplaces are hoping that Instagram-friendly design can be a tool to attract workers—especially young workers—back to the office, leaning on a colorful aesthetic meant to pop on social media. The goal is “retaining employees by hyping this fun, enjoyable, hyper-social workplace,” Cornell communication professor Brooke Erin Duffy told The New York Times. 

Charter readers react: In this past Tuesday’s column about how changing workplace friendship dynamics are affecting younger workers, we asked Charters readers how you feel about the role of work in your social life. Some 47% of you said, "My work and social lives are largely separate, and I like it that way." Another 29% of you indicated a preference for blurrier boundaries, agreeing with either "It's a key part, and I like it that way” (18%) or “My work and social lives are largely separate, and I wish there was more overlap” (11%). For those in the latter group, read more here about how to strengthen those relationships.

Here are some of the best tips and insights from the past week for managing yourself and your team:

  • Use AI-powered tools for a more organized inbox. Native tools in email clients like Gmail and Outlook, as well as third-party apps like Shortwave and Sanebox, can help users sift through mountains of emails faster. For example, use Google’s Bard, Shortwave, or Outlook’s summarize feature to get abbreviated versions of long emails, or take advantage of AI features that sort incoming messages into folders based on importance. 
  • Give onboarding a long tail. Continue the process for the first year or two after a new employee joins the company by scheduling regular meetings between the new employee and longer-tenured colleagues, a practice that has been shown to increase retention among women and underrepresented groups in particular. During these meetings, the senior employees should discuss their own challenges, growth, and perceptions of the company from their early months at the company, as well as their newer colleagues’ experiences. 
  • Help teams reframe negative situations with reappraisals. The technique—in which people tell themselves a positive story about a stressful event—also works in group settings. For example, reframe a crisis situation for your team as an opportunity for learning and improvement. Or discuss a less-than-stellar earnings report in the context of larger economic trends. 
  • Make it easy for stressed-out colleagues to say “yes” to support. Asking yes or no questions like, “Do you need help?” can unintentionally encourage people to turn down the help. Instead, give coworkers opportunities to describe the support they need by asking questions like, “What can I do to be helpful to you today?” 

Coda

Not-so-happy holidays. Some 44% of workers are more stressed than usual during the holiday season, while 17% see their overall well-being take a dip, according to a recent survey from the career site Monster. 

  • Not being able to fully unplug may be one factor making the time feel less than jolly: Nearly two-thirds of workers surveyed said they work through their days off during the holidays, most often to address a time-sensitive issue or respond to a manager request. 

Catfishing goes corporate. DevTernity, a high-profile developer conference, was recently canceled after it came to light that organizers had created fictitious profiles for female speakers who didn’t exist

  • Charter Pro members can access our template panel diversity pledge, created both to help organizations hold themselves accountable for having diverse speakers and to help speakers advocate for greater diversity at events they’re part of. '

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect Lee's title. He is the co-head of the office of applied innovation at Goldman Sachs, not the co-head of applied innovation.