BCG Henderson Institute

Enjoying work matters — a lot. Our earlier research has shown that employees who enjoy their work are about 50% less likely to look for a new job. But increasing this emotion is about more than free lunch and other perks. People work at work — and it is therefore critical for any effort to improve joy to be grounded in the day-to-day rhythms, routines, and tasks that employees spend their time on.

This is particularly important today, as companies look to integrate generative AI and other technologies into workflows. Instead of just pursuing productivity gains, organizations must also consider the impact these technologies have on employees’ enjoyment of work. Yes, if your rollout is successful, people will be able to work faster and better — but it should also enable them to spend more time on the parts of their jobs that make them happy and reduce the parts that feel like endless toil or cause overwhelming stress.

Our research shows that employees can only tolerate so much toil (defined as work they don’t enjoy) in their day-to-day roles. Beyond four hours a week, people start thinking about leaving their job. This doesn’t mean employees need to be in a state of ecstasy every moment they are working; we found that employees are unlikely to look for a new job if they spend at least 10 hours per week on tasks they really enjoy.

With those thresholds in mind, how can leaders use gen AI to move the needle?

To answer this question, we recently conducted a study of 522 administrative and HR professionals at BCG, in eight countries. As part of this study, participants were offered a portfolio of gen AI tools to help with their day-to-day work, as well as access to training materials to help them use these tools. (The technology and training were delivered differently for our control and experiment groups, which we’ll discuss below.) Our early findings suggest practical ways that companies can encourage adoption, enhance enjoyment, and decrease toil.

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