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Australian employers bullish on AI, employees fear being replaced

By Nick Wilson | |6 minute read

Though Australian leaders are unusually optimistic about AI adoption compared with their global peers, their employees are ambivalent.

A global study commissioned by Zoom Video Communications has found that Australian leaders are disproportionately favourable towards broader adoption of artificial intelligence (AI). While the vast majority of business leaders globally are optimistic about broader AI use (88 per cent), Australian business leaders came in even higher (93 per cent).

Let’s consider why Aussies are so keen on the emergent tech and whether the feeling is common to employers and employees alike.


What’s to love?

It will come as no shock that the enthusiasm of Australian business leaders is linked to the results they’ve been seeing within their teams. Among those using the technology, business leaders said their teams worked faster (at 88 per cent), more productively (at 84 per cent), and produced work of a higher quality (at 85 per cent).

“Australian leadership’s positive response to AI in the workplace indicates the country’s forward-thinking approach to innovation,” said Bede Hackney, ANZ head at Zoom.

For these and similar reasons, 76 per cent of surveyed Australian leaders see acting quickly to implement AI solutions as a way to avoid falling behind.

“Those who don’t use AI at work likely don’t recognise how much time they could potentially be saving,” explained Ricky Kapur, head of Asia Pacific at Zoom.

“It’s clear that those who aren’t using it may be missing out on an opportunity to improve how they use their time by embracing these transformative technologies.”

As noted by the Harvard Business Review: “The question is no longer if a company should use AI – but where it brings the greatest competitive advantage.”

“What started out as algorithms used to determine loans, select new hires, and employer chatbots (with mixed success) is now deeply embedded and used in everything, from predicting climate risks to picking sales leads.”

Is it just the leaders?

While business leaders are (nearly) all-in on AI, employees are slightly more ambivalent. When polled on the potential drawbacks of the technology, apprehended job losses took first place (89 per cent). That said, 60 per cent of Australian employees report being excited about AI, compared with only 47 per cent in the United States. Meanwhile, the Asia-Pacific region came in first place, with 69 per cent of employees being excited about the technology.

Notably, employees aren’t the only ones acknowledging the possible barriers to broader AI adoption, though it might be said they have more to lose should their fears be realised. Seventy-one per cent of Australian business leaders saw the fear of job losses as a barrier to AI adoption – a perceived barrier second in popularity to training concerns, as 80 per cent of Australian leaders identified training challenges as a roadblock to broader AI adoption.

“Amid such concerns, leadership will be key to unlocking AI benefits, and in fostering adoption. Just as AI can help automate or assist with tasks to improve productivity, it can also help boost collaboration. Educating teams and providing resources are essential steps towards unlocking the full potential of AI in the workplace,” said Mr Hackney.

Fears scale with use

Interestingly, as found in a recent CNBC survey, there is a “direct correlation” between an employee’s use of AI and their concerns about job security: “The more workers leverage generative AI in their jobs, the more likely they fear that automation may replace them,” explained Jack Kelly for Forbes.

The heightened concerns, therefore, among foreign employees might represent deeper and more frequent use of the technology outside of Australia. As noted by Techwire, research shows that Australia uses AI predominantly as a way to catch up or stay apace with global competitors, while China, Germany and the US see the technology as a way to “widen their lead or leapfrog ahead of competitors”.

As adoption continues in Australia, it’s possible that employees will grow increasingly wary of the technology.



When a company can no longer support a certain job within the organisation, it redundancies that employee.


Turnover in human resources refers to the process of replacing an employee with a new hire. Termination, retirement, death, interagency transfers, and resignations are just a few examples of how organisations and workers may part ways.

Nick Wilson

Nick Wilson

Nick Wilson is a journalist with HR Leader. With a background in environmental law and communications consultancy, Nick has a passion for language and fact-driven storytelling.