How the 100 Best Companies Are Training Their Workforce for AI

 Adobe employees in its San Francisco office.
Adobe employees are actively engaged in beta testing new AI tools .

AI (Artificial Intelligence) Developing Training & Development

Here’s how to ensure all employees have an opportunity to learn the latest technology and help co-create your AI future.

Are your workers ready for the generative AI revolution?

Data from LinkedIn shows that four in five U.S. employees want more training on artificial intelligence tools, but only 38% of U.S. executives are currently helping employees become more AI-literate. And, more CEOs report investing in the technology (57%) than developing their workforce’s skills and capabilities (43%).

That’s a mistake, according to companies on the 2024 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® List.

“As the No. 1 World’s Best Workplace, it’s important to introduce and embrace new technology that offers significant benefits to how we work,” says Michael Leidinger, chief information officer at Hilton.

As the technology promises to remake workflows, companies that remain committed to their people are poised to have the most success.

“I’m focused on the future, and without question, the future of work is fueled by generative AI,” says Michael C. Bush, CEO at Great Place To Work®. “Purpose-driven companies will ensure that AI is used to solve the complex problems that come from assuring all stakeholders thrive in this new machine-architected capitalism.”

All employees should innovate

Great Place To Work research has found that companies where more employees participate in innovation more quickly adapt to changing market conditions. For companies where higher numbers of employees report innovation and inclusion, median year-over-year revenue growth is more than five times higher than companies in the bottom quartile for connecting employees to innovation.

When it comes to AI, that means ensuring that all employees who want to participate have an opportunity to explore and learn.

“If AI is being explored only in your technology organization, the effort will fail,” Sathish Muthukrishnan, chief information, data, and digital officer at Ally Financial, told employees. “Because AI is a game-changing technology, the entire enterprise should understand it and be involved in the journey.” 

Here’s how companies on this year’s 100 Best list are enlisting employees to help co-create an AI future:

1. Build cross-functional teams to explore AI opportunities

At Trek Bicycle, the exploration of AI started with its “Advanced Technologies” team, but it launched a company-wide investigation to determine how AI could improve workflows and processes.

The team was convinced that everyone, no matter their position, deserved an equitable opportunity to harness the benefits of AI to make their jobs and lives more enjoyable. The Advanced Technologies team spent several months interviewing every department about how AI might improve their work environment, and employees at all levels of the business were asked to contribute feedback.

From these interviews, the team presented Trek’s senior managers with a list of nearly 40 concrete use-cases for AI. Each project prioritizes current Trek employees’ well-being and is being developed with input from each department.

Companies like Crowe have created a space for employees to share their concerns or questions around AI.

“For many people, we realize that the proliferation of AI in the workplace can be scary, raising questions about the pace of learning, tooling applications, and skills expectations,” says Loretta Cambron, Crowe’s technology relations and advocacy leader. “We offer a robust and evolving AI upskilling program, which supports the way adults learn.” 

Employees start with a course outlining the basics of generative AI, including learning about ethics and risks. They’re then invited to join Crowe’s “AI Guild,” where they can learn together in real time.

Crowe offers more than 10 guilds — groups that address various strategic business and technology capabilities. “These communities are spaces for casual collaboration, networking, and experiential exposure across business units, for any employee regardless of role or prior experience,” she says.

Rocket Companies ensures that any employee can submit an idea for how AI can improve its products and services. With the company’s forum “ChatRKT” — a bit of wordplay based on its stock symbol — any team member can submit project ideas that could use generative AI. Team members can also see what AI ideas are already being developed or are available currently.  

2. Focus on building trust with employees

Research shows that a global trust crisis threatens to keep companies from taking advantage of technology like AI.

“Trust tells workers their employer will use AI in a way that will make their workplace experience better and more equitable,” says Bush. “Consumers will look to see where people work to decide if they can trust their favorite brands. You can trust how a company uses AI if you know their employees trust them.”

At the 100 Best, 83% of employees say people quickly adapt to change at their organization, compared to just 61% at typical U.S. workplaces. How are 100 Best companies building this high level of trust?

Adobe is committed to developing generative AI responsibly, with creators at the center. Across Adobe’s businesses, generative AI tools seek to enhance, not replace, human imagination and artistry, giving creators every advantage to realize their potential. An AI ethics committee and review board oversees the company’s AI exploration, with members of the board representing a diverse set of life experiences and professional backgrounds.

Adobe says its employees are “customer zero” and therefore play a crucial role in beta testing and providing feedback on new technology, such as Adobe’s new generative AI application Firefly, and it’s Firefly-powered features in products like Photoshop and Illustrator. Since its first Firefly beta in March 2023, Adobe has seen a surge of employee engagement in product beta testing, with thousands of employees participating in 30+ betas over the last year.

Adobe also created “AI@Adobe,” a cross-functional working group to promote, govern, and support employee efforts to implement generative AI into workflows, educate on the complex issues around generative AI, and help teams learn from each other.

By co-creating with employees, Adobe is on the cutting edge of generative AI advances to revolutionize a new era of workplace productivity, ideation, automation, and connectivity.

3. Build dedicated AI learning modules

For companies with learning and development programs, AI has quickly become a focus.

KPMG launched a GenAI 101 training program to help people develop their skills around the technology. Learners who take the program are introduced to key AI terminology and learn about how AI can be implemented in the workplace, the risks and ethics around AI use, the mechanics of effective AI prompts, and more. Employees are also required to take a “Trusted AI” training program.

At Ally Financial, quarterly “AI Days” offer an opportunity for employees to hear from expert speakers and observe live demos of AI tools and their capabilities. More broadly, an AI Community offers an opportunity for teammates looking to expand their careers, build skills and their confidence using the tools. Learning from peers is encouraged with monthly gatherings for interested employees to participate in office hours with data science experts within the company.

To engage employees to learn, PwC has gamified its AI curriculum. With a live trivia game called “PowerUp,” employees can participate in quizzes on firm strategy and other content from PwC’s AI curriculum, earning prizes and creating a reason for employees to come together and connect. Since its launch, PowerUp has more than 9,000 participants in each monthly game across the U.S. and Mexico.

Getting employees ready for AI doesn’t mean you should only focus on the specifics of the technology. Companies like Marriott International see that general digital literacy is a crucial foundation for the future of work, and has made learning and development programs a key part of efforts to engage its frontline associates.

Get more insights

Sign up for our workplace culture newsletter.

Ted Kitterman