SHIFT – November 2023

Our November issue of SHIFT explores the impact of AI in the workplace; what is emerging about the effects of remote work; why women are held back at work; and how to give honest feedback to employees.

Embracing AI in the workplace

A recent article in Forbes observes that innovations like artificial intelligence (AI) are being introduced so quickly that once we comprehend one concept, it seems as though it’s already obsolete. There are concerns about AI outperforming all of us, and the World Economic Forum predicts that tech innovation and automation will displace 85 million jobs by 2025. Perhaps a more accurate statement, according to the report, is that these jobs might be repositioned. The outlook is that 97 million new roles are expected to be created as we adapt to this technology and that the potential proliferation of human job creation from AI will continue to generate as the technology advances.

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What we do and don’t know about the effects of remote work

Early results about the effects of remote work on employees and the economy are emerging, according to a report in the New York Times. They reveal a mixed economic picture, in which many workers and businesses have made real gains, and many have also had to bear costs. Studies of productivity in work-from-home arrangements are all over the map. Some papers have linked remote work with productivity declines of between 8 and 19 percent; still other research has found productivity gains of 13 percent or even 24 percent. Nick Bloom, an economist at Stanford, said the new set of studies shows that productivity differs between remote workplaces depending on an employer’s approach — how well trained managers are to support remote employees and whether those employees have opportunities for occasional meet-ups.

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The New York Times

What’s holding women back at work?

The struggle women face landing senior leadership roles in corporate America is commonly blamed on the "glass ceiling,” but new research indicates that the problems for women in the workforce begin far lower down the professional ladder, as reported by CBS News. Women early in their careers are far more likely to stumble on a "broken rung," according to a new study from consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and Lean In. That failure to climb the ladder isn’t due to lack of ambition, with the survey of 27,000 workers finding that women have the same goals for advancing their careers as men. But bias may play a role, with corporate leaders often promoting young male employees on their potential, while young women are judged more by their track records — a tougher standard when female workers are just starting in their careers.

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CBS News

The biggest mistake bosses make when giving feedback to employees

Former Apple and Google executive Kim Scott coined the phrase ”radical candor” to describe an effective way to be honest with employees and avoid what she calls feedback failure. The approach is meant to help you show that “you care personally while challenging directly.” Leaders worry about upsetting workers when providing firmer feedback, but that is no excuse for being a poor communicator, says Scott. You must be willing to challenge directly, sometimes going even further than may be comfortable for you, while also being aware of how what you’re saying is landing. You can be so worried about not upsetting someone or hurting their feelings or offending them that you fail to tell them something they’d be better off knowing.

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