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Why Are Government Workers Hesitant To Embrace AI?

By Stephen Brandofino

Local government officials often find themselves at an intersection between progress and tradition. They are tasked with the challenging responsibility of integrating modern technology into their daily work lives. Officials recognize the immense potential that digital tools and advanced systems hold for enhancing efficiency, improving public services, and fostering transparency. With that said, this journey towards modernization is oftentimes met with innumerable hurdles, none of which are more pressing than the hesitance and overall resistance from employees. 

It is important for local government leaders to understand the thoughts behind this resistance. Many local government employees have dedicated years, if not decades, to their roles, learning the tools and procedures needed to best serve their community. 

The thought alone of overhauling these processes can be one that can turn many heads. The learning curve of mastering new technologies can be daunting, not to mention the feelings of inadequacy, and the disruption of established workflows.  

It is important to empathize with your employees. Hesitation is not always a sign of unwillingness to improve systems, but a human response to change. 

You must reassure your employees that the experience they have gained is valued, and that they will be adequately supported in the change with training and resources. This creates a difficult balancing act that local government officials must deal with. Weighing the benefits of modernization, while also addressing the fair concerns and responses of their workforce. 

Table Of Contents: What To Expect  

  • Overview of AI
  • Understanding the Basics of AI
  • Key Reasons Employees Are Hesitant To Embrace AI 
  • How to Combat Hesitancy To Adopt AI


What Is AI and Why Is It Valuable? 

Artificial Intelligence, or AI for short, is a branch of computer science that is focused on making systems that are capable of performing tasks that would normally require human intelligence. Some of these tasks may include learning from experience, understanding languages, recognizing patterns, solving problems, and making human-like decisions. AI encompasses a variety of different techniques. Some include, machine learning, natural language processing, and visual information interpretation.

The value of AI lies in its ability to enhance efficiency, accuracy, and innovation across numerous different fields. Some of its main values include, the automation of mundane tasks, nuance insight and analysis of data, accuracy improvement, and the ability to enable personalized experiences. 

AI is valuable because it strengthens capabilities of humans, drives efficiencies, and creates new possibilities across different domains. AI has the ability to process information at a large scale, learn from different data, and perform complex tasks with expert precision. This makes AI extremely valuable in many workplaces, especially local governments. 

Learn all about The Near Future of AI and What Local Governance Will Look Like In 5 years here! 

The Basics of Artificial Intelligence

With the complexities of AI, it is important to understand the basics. AI can be broken down into three main subsets, automation, machine learning, and computer vision. Here is an overview of each subset: 

  • Automation: AI can automate human tasks that make life easier to people every day. Tedious processes and monotonous tasks can be easily performed by AI and are often more accurate than when humans perform them. Automation can and should be integrated into office settings to make processes more efficient such as, notification delivery, appointment scheduling, and online permitting!
  • Machine Learning Capabilities: Machine learning is a subset of AI that focuses on building algorithms and models that enable computers to learn from and make predictions or decisions based on data. These computers process millions of pieces of data in seconds, and then are able to “think” like a human with all the information they combed from the provided data. 
  • Computer Vision: Computer vision involves teaching computers to interpret and understand visual information from the real world. It enables machines to analyze and make decisions like a human would after analyzing data and incoming information. Computer vision can identify images and is responsible for Face ID, facial recognition technology! 

Learn everything about Adopting Modern Technology Into The Municipal Workplace here. 

A Deeper Understanding: Why Are Government Workers Hesitant To Adopt AI Technologies

The hesitancy of workers to begin adopting AI technology to their work lives can be understandable. From fear of replacement, to lack of knowledge, these reservations are bound to happen. Here is a list of a few common doubts when it comes to artificial intelligence:

1. Fear of Being Replaced At Work

The fear of being replaced at work by AI technology is a serious concern across all industries, including within government workers. This stems from the idea that AI technology can automate a lot of tasks that are traditionally done by human workers. However, in reality AI is being integrated into public and private sector workplaces in order to augment the work of employees, who are wasting countless hours on tasks that are below their pay-grade. 

Consider Local Government Employee Retention here to learn more. 

2.  Lack of Knowledge 

Not understanding what modern technology can do to improve their jobs is a common misspell by government workers. It is common for fear of the unknown to lead to hesitations on the part of workers who may be intimidated by the task of mastering new technology. However, many employees who don’t have extensive knowledge on AI and automation simply don’t see how much help they’d get from these solutions! Digital transformation is meant to make life simpler and make work easier for employees.

Make sure to inform employees how their repetitive processes can be done for them, in seconds to save them time in their day! 

Take a minute to learn about Emerging Technologies in Local Government here. 

3. Lack of Training

The lack of familiarity when it comes to Ai is a common barrier to adoption, in all industries. Government workers may feel like they are incapable of utilizing new and advanced technologies. To some workers, especially older employees who have been working the same way for decades, there may feel like a large learning curve that they would rather not encounter. 

Providing employee training programs or onboarding support offered by government management software providers such as GovPilot. New users will feel empowered to use these digital solutions when they are trained on how to use it and why they should be!

Read our guide on How to Train Government Workers on Cyber Security Threats with our resource. 

How Can You Combat Employee Hesitancy?

Employees may be hesitant to embrace AI for a variety of different reasons, often all relating back to a confusion about what AI has to offer them. These tactics to make employees feel more comfortable learning about AI will surely help the adoption of artificial intelligence and other software solutions in your office: 

  • Be Understanding and Patient

Often, all employees feel when they are not adopting technology fast enough is a sense of confusion and frustration. Dealing with these emotions in the workplace can present challenges for employees, and manifest as anger or disobedience to learn about AI and their training. 

Being patient with employees while they learn about AI, what it is capable of, and how to work with it is crucial to ensuring they have a positive experience adopting this new technology. Positive reinforcement and the willingness to answer questions goes a long way in making new learners feel comfortable to dive deeper into the new technology and how to use it. 

  • Explain the Benefits

    Many employees might think that embracing AI and other modern tech solutions is simply futile. However, they’ll be less hesitant if they see all the positive impacts that these new technologies can have on their workplace. Make sure you take time to guarantee the understanding of these technologies to workers, so that they can understand why working with them is important. 

AI integration in the workplace really just results in time-savings and the elimination of monotonous tasks for employees. These two benefits alone will likely convince local government employees to adopt technology designed to simplify their jobs. 

Learn about Addressing Challenges Governments Face Moving to an Online Capacity

  • Host Classes and Lessons 

Is there anything more frustrating than needing to master a task or learn how to do something and not knowing what to look up, or how to research the topic on your own? Employees often feel this struggle when supervisors ask them to adopt new technologies without providing them with resources they need to succeed. 

Host classes and workshops about emerging technologies, even during work hours, to invest in your employees and educate them about the modern tech they will soon be working with. Setting employees up for success means going out of your way to make sure they all have equal opportunity for growth and learning about what is to come in the future of their work. Modern software solutions and AI capabilities require a deeper dive of explanation and classes or workshops can provide a more relaxing environment for new learners to familiarize themselves with the tech. 

  • Encourage Progress 

When employees are learning about emerging tech, a subject that may be daunting and overwhelming to them, it is important to give them positive reinforcement and feedback while they try to learn. Whenever an employee goes above and beyond in their course or attempts to learn more about emerging tech for their workplace, encourage their progress and thank them for their effort.

This goes a long way in creating a positive learning atmosphere for workers where they have a higher change of flourishing. 

Consider which Technology & Public Policy Trends Shaping the Public Sector

Combat Employee Hesitancy To Adopt AI 

It is time for local government officials to do everything they can to combat hesitancy that workers often feel to work with AI. Incorporating modern tech requires patience, communication, and an understanding that we are all human. If you approach this process with empathy and a commitment to support, local government officials can pave the way for a more efficient unit of public service. 

Government workers achieve a lot and put much effort into serving constituents and improving lives, they deserve simpler solutions to complete their work and tasks. Book a consultation with GovPilot to become familiar with government management technology solutions and learn how they can improve your workplace!  

Embracing AI FAQs

  • Should workers fear AI? 

The short answer is no, workers should not fear automation or AI as it is intended to make their lives easier, and give them time to focus on their more important tasks. Automation and AI are intended to help workers, not replace them and take their jobs. 

  • What can machine learning achieve? 

Machine learning is an advanced, and still emerging form of AI that allows people to trust AI with creative tasks, instead of simply repetitive and obvious tasks. Machine learning can take millions of data pieces and create content based on what it “learned”  through scanning various data sets, which is how it achieves such impressive results. 

  • Are there AI applications for my office? 

Yes, there are AI applications to benefit the workflows and operations of any office. Whether you opt to utilize virtual assistants, AI scheduling systems, or auto-generated meeting notes, there are AI solutions that will make your life easier at the office. 

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Tags: Government Efficiency, Digital Transformation, GovTech