AI that works. Coming June 5, Asana redefines work management—again.Get early access

What is human-centric AI? A critical, empathetic approach to technology

Alicia Raeburn contributor headshotAlicia Raeburn
October 13th, 2023
2 min read
What is human centric ai article banner image
View Templates

In the race to implement new and cutting-edge AI tools, many organizations are overlooking a crucial component—the humans that use them. 

To get the most out of AI, employees need to be able to engage with it first. This concept is what we call "human-centric AI"—the idea that AI should be a partner to employees, not a replacement. To better understand human-centric AI, Asana’s Work Innovation Lab surveyed over 4,500 individuals across various roles in the US and UK to see how organizations are navigating AI adoption. 

The findings show that some organizational levels—like executives—are engaging with AI more than others. This underscores the need for a human-centric approach to narrow the engagement gap and encourage employees of all levels to partner with AI.

What is human-centric AI?

The idea behind human-centric AI is simple: technology should enhance, not replace, people’s natural abilities. In this way, organizations can use AI to augment your innate human capabilities. When organizations replace people with AI, they have weaker outcomes and produce lower value work. But when people work with AI instead, the exact opposite is true. As a result, you can bolster human decision-making, enrich interactions, and drive meaningful outcomes.

AI adoption: A balance of trust and innovation

As AI use grows, taking a human-centric approach to AI adoption will become especially important. Human-centric AI creates a balance—the more that people partner with AI, the better the outcomes will be. And with better outcomes, more people will use and trust AI. 

Research from The Work Innovation Lab shows that executives are leading the charge in AI adoption, with over half (52%) using AI on a weekly basis, compared to just 36% of the broader workforce. This indicates that leaders are more aware of how AI can enhance decision-making and foster innovation, but other role levels are lagging behind. By reframing AI as a partner rather than a replacement for human creativity, executives can encourage even more employees to embrace AI. 

Employees are already finding practical ways to engage with AI, and a human-centric approach can help expand AI use to drive further productivity gains. According to our research:

  • 30% of employees are using AI for data analysis to form actionable insights.

  • 25% of employees are leveraging AI to handle administrative tasks, freeing up time for more strategic work.

A human-centric approach is necessary in order for AI to become a staple in organizational operations. By fostering a mutual relationship between individuals and AI, you can achieve better outcomes, encouraging more trust and further use of AI among the workforce.

Human-centric AI: Better decisions, happier customers

As organizations weave human-centric AI into their daily operations, research from The Work Innovation Lab shows that the impacts extend across decision-making, customer interactions, and operational efficiency.

  • Enhanced decision making: 52% of knowledge workers see AI as a positive influence on their work, indicating a shift toward more informed decision-making. By using AI to analyze data, employees can make more accurate and timely decisions, which in turn can lead to improved business outcomes.

  • Improved customer interactions: With 36% of knowledge workers using AI weekly, there’s a significant opportunity to enhance customer experiences. For example, AI can automate routine customer queries, allowing human employees to focus on more complex, personalized interactions. That focus leads to improved customer satisfaction and stronger relationships.

  • Increased efficiency: Nearly one-third (29%) of employees are worried about job replacement by AI. This highlights the need to discern what AI can automate and what requires a human touch. By automating repetitive tasks, AI frees up employees to focus on the more strategic, creative aspects of their roles. This leads to higher efficiency and job satisfaction.

Human-centric AI promotes a collaborative environment where humans and AI work together toward shared goals. It emphasizes ethical AI use, nurturing trust and transparency in digital interactions. 

Prioritizing people in AI adoption

The journey toward human-centric AI is a collective endeavor, calling for a balanced approach to technology and a deeper understanding of human values and needs. As organizations move forward in this digital age, rooting AI strategies in human-centric principles will foster meaningful interactions and propel businesses toward a more innovative future.

Work smarter with AI or get left behind

Understanding AI starts with the facts. Read our full AI playbook for cutting-edge research on how top-performing organizations are leveraging AI to supercharge their success.

Get the insights
Work smarter with AI or get left behind

Related resources


Don’t let your digital tools sabotage the employee experience