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As socially-isolating AI adoption mounts, Gen Z employees say they want more human interaction: They prefer to learn skills from peers, not from AI

by | Aug 8, 2023 | Public Relations

As the AI age threatens to reshape the workplace into a less collaborative, more isolated environment, many younger employees foresee a bleak, lonely worklife in their future, with only their generative AI programs to share their days—and learn from. The tech is already being used to some degree in nearly 90 percent of corporate learning organizations—those that have a framework that encourages employees to expand their knowledge, opportunities, and skills—and just as AI is expected to reduce repetitive tasks, it’s almost a foregone conclusion that it will also accelerate the trend towards a more socially isolated workplace. 

New research from HR research and membership firm Executive Networks and cohort-learning platform NovoEd reveals that most individuals still remain apprehensive about the technology’s impact on their professional and personal lives—and that this impending reality will escalate the demand for learning experiences that center on human interaction and are built to create organizational alignment.

As socially-isolating AI adoption mounts, Gen Z employees say they want more human interaction: They prefer to learn skills from peers, not from AI

The firms’ new report, Cohort Learning in the Age of AI, brings to light several key findings about sentiment regarding generative AI and the ways in which this wave of technological disruption is accelerating the transformative value of peer-driven, experiential learning. It reveals, for example, that more than half of employees surveyed (52 percent) believe company onboarding should last at least one year or be continuous, and 35 percent say online, cohort-based learning is the best modality for onboarding, more than one-on-one virtual meetings (27 percent), mobile learning applications (22 percent), or virtual reality orientation (12 percent).

The study’s analysis determines that most individuals crave community participation in times of uncertainty and are drawn to learning experiences that encourage and stimulate connection. Cohort learning, in particular, is a powerful way to engage employees in times of rapid transformation, and can be used to both teach and communicate complex ideas and cultivate community within and beyond the boundaries of traditional enterprises.

As socially-isolating AI adoption mounts, Gen Z employees say they want more human interaction: They prefer to learn skills from peers, not from AI

Connection matters across every facet of the enterprise, both internal and external, and can even be a competitive advantage

“Companies must expand their audience and approach to learning to engage a larger pool of potential talent,” said Jeanne Meister, founder of Future Workplace and executive vice president of Executive Networks, in a news release. “Extending opportunities for cohort-based learning and pathways to career development for an organization’s full ecosystem also creates natural opportunities for connection with important stakeholders and deepens relationships that matter with employees, customers, partners, and communities.”

Additionally, as workplace demographics and work environments shift, learners are bringing expectations from the on-demand, personalized media of their consumer lives to the workplace. Today’s learners look for experiences that are peer driven and integrate the best possible content with a rich community of deliberate practice. With the advent of generative AI, learning organizations are becoming more free than ever before to think creatively about the content and ideas they are communicating, as well as the learning experience within which that content is enmeshed and delivered.

As socially-isolating AI adoption mounts, Gen Z employees say they want more human interaction: They prefer to learn skills from peers, not from AI

“In the face of generative AI transforming our workplaces and ways in which we approach our jobs, online cohort-based learning is uniquely suited to bring the texture, dynamism, and weight of in-person human interaction into remote and hybrid contexts,” said NovoEd chief strategy officer Todd Moran, in the release. “While the ability to source data from an array of tools gives us all a wealth of information and opportunities at our fingertips, it’s what and how we learn from each other—as human beings—that brings that learning to life. That’s why top organizations are investing in learning that puts peer-to-peer community and interaction at its center. This both decentralizes learning and drives engagement by enabling people to learn the way that they live and connect.”

As socially-isolating AI adoption mounts, Gen Z employees say they want more human interaction: They prefer to learn skills from peers, not from AI

Download the full report here.

The survey was jointly conducted by Executive Networks and NovoEd, and includes the insights of 505 professionals evenly split between the U.S. and the U.K., representing a range of age groups, company sizes, and demographic communities. The research reached corporate learning executives as well as both full-time and part-time workers. Join NovoEd product marketing lead Jacob Nikolau on Aug. 22 at 1 P.M. EST for a live webinar to learn more about the findings of the survey.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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