People Science Predictions: The impact of AI on the employee experience
Published Dec 14 2023 10:21 AM 7,365 Views
Microsoft

As Microsoft Viva People Scientists, we spend a lot of time hypothesizing and analyzing emerging trends and important employee experience topics. We like to put our skills to good use and end 2023 with our collective thoughts on the hot topic of AI - more specifically, how AI might impact the employee experience and high performance in organizations.  

 

Here are our top predictions from the Viva People Science team!  

 

Prediction 1: Employees will initially feel a widening skills gap, and a pressure to upskill 

As organizations roll out AI tools, the skills gap that some employees already feel between their technology skills and those of their more tech-savvy colleagues may seem even wider. Organizations should pay attention to AI-enablement activities, with a focus on inclusion and an understanding of the different starting points to the AI learning journey to truly democratize the use of AI across the entire organization. Avneeta Solanki, Principal People Scientist  

 

Prediction 2: AI will help talent professionals elevate within their organizations  

In the upcoming year, talent professionals will become more comfortable using AI in their daily work lives, allowing them to shift their time and effort toward more strategic tasks. Talent professionals will experiment with different ways to use AI (e.g., create a job description, list five ways to recognize an employee, write an email welcoming a new team member) and reallocate time to more strategic, business imperative tasks (e.g., coaching managers on how to have a difficult conversation, working with leaders on creating new job opportunities for key talent). More strategic work aligned to organizational priorities will help elevate the role of the talent professional within organizations. Melissa Barry, Principal People Science Manager, Head of Customer Empowerment   

 

Prediction 3: The balancing act: maximizing AI productivity while safeguarding security 

With the increasing availability of AI tools, employees will be empowered to boost productivity by streamlining tasks, evaluating ideas, and refining deliverables. However, AI utilization will raise concerns, particularly regarding data security and the protection of proprietary content. Organizations will look to address these challenges and put guardrails in place, and those without sufficient investment in their own AI capabilities and tools may discover that potential productivity enhancements fall short of expectations. Freyja Quick, Senior People Scientist 

 

Prediction 4: Employees will use AI for augmentation, not just automation  

While conversations about AI in the workplace often go to task automation – and, in more of a doomsday outlook, a full replacement of roles – there are many exciting potentials for augmentation of work. Instead of AI being a replacement for human thought, it can be a powerful tool to build upon the human take. From creating a draft communication to build upon and personalize, to generating additional considerations in a brainstorming session, AI can be a powerful tool to getting us more quickly to a quality output. We will, however, always be most powerful together. Carolyn Kalafut, Principal People Scientist 

 

Prediction 5: AI will call for a resilient workforce 

As generative AI becomes integral within organizations, employees will need to develop a mindset of continuous learning to become proficient at handling change. Jobs will change all around you, even if you don’t change your job. The need to keep up with AI advancements will foster tech-savvy workforces that value adaptability and innovation, and a culture that thrives on experimentation and new ideas. But resilience and adaptability to AI-driven change will require leaders to bring their people along on the transformative journey by clearly and compassionately alleviating concerns about the unknown and fostering a strong sense of ownership and learning. Sonya Bedi, Senior People Science Manager, EMEA Team Lead 

 

Prediction 6: Our humanness will be amplified, both as managers and employees  

As generative AI shoulders analytical tasks within organizations, we will all become increasingly valued for our humanness. Managers with human leadership, soft skills, and emotional intelligence will stand out. Managers will also play a pivotal role in mitigating bias in AI systems by monitoring and re-aligning AI-driven decisions with the values of their organization. There will be a premium on those moments in which we all interact with each other, human to human. Think about those moments when you call a help line and begin to realize you are talking to AI or a computer and all you can think about is that you just want to speak with a human being. We can’t neglect connection, empathy, and relationship building. Sonya Bedi, Senior People Science Manager, EMEA Team Lead and Christina Rasieleski, Senior People Scientist 

 

Prediction 7: AI will impact how future roles take shape 

It’s been said that the type of job a child starting kindergarten today will hold in their future has not even been dreamt of yet. We don’t know what jobs of the future look like. However, we do know that many current positions are taking new shapes as AI advances. Organizations who will thrive moving forward are talking about skills and roles needed in the future – now- and building a plan to upskill current talent to fit these roles. Read more here about how the future of jobs is changing in the age of AI. Christina Rasieleski, Senior People Scientist 

 

Prediction 8: In a world filled with new AI tools, prioritization will be critical 

AI can provide faster answers, automate routine tasks, and deliver personalized experiences, but its pace and impact also pose significant challenges. One of the key skills that will help us navigate the age of AI is prioritization. Prioritization helps us manage our time, energy, and resources more effectively, and align our actions with our values and vision. Prioritization enables us to cope with the uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity that AI brings, and will continue to bring, to the workplace. 

Prioritization skills can help leaders and managers empower their teams, partners, and stakeholders by identifying and focusing on the most valuable and impactful AI use cases, allocating and optimizing resources and budget, balancing the trade-offs and risks of AI, and fostering a culture of learning and innovation. Bryan Dobkin, Principal People Scientist 

 

Prediction 9: Humans that adopt AI will remain relevant for longer 

Introducing AI to your employees is like bringing home a significant other to meet your parents. On both sides, it can feel awkward, but the quicker your parents accept your partner and all their wonderful quirks, the better the relationship will be long-term. Similarly, employees that embrace AI as a growth opportunity to drive personal and professional success will reap the benefits. The best organizations will capitalize on investments by doing three things well:  

1) Focus on the employee experience while enabling AI-driven processes 

2) Create the right conditions for people to succeed, and  

3) Build a resilient culture that is fueled by a growth mindset.  

 

Similarly, employees will need to build increasingly relevant skills such asking the right questions, experimenting with new ideas, challenging assumptions / biases, testing hypotheses, demonstrating curiosity and learning agility, thinking critically about AI outputs etc. Gogi Anand, Principal People Scientist and Keith McGrane, Senior People Scientist 

 

Prediction 10: We don’t have time for data!”  

As the interpretation of data will take less or no time, AI will instead allow conversation and behavior change to become our primary focus. We spend a lot of time analyzing things. Too much time. Now we’ll have time for measurable behavior change. AI can allow us to focus our energy and time on the things that make a difference: communication and changing how we behave. Steven Buck, Principal People Scientist 

 

Prediction 11: Effective AI technology practices can make you an employer of choice 

AI technology can raise questions of trust and fairness. How do you reward the group that uses AI and performs better? How do you treat the group that doesn’t use AI and falls behind? Companies that establish clear guidelines and organizational norms around AI will create a culture of trust and empowerment, while those that do not will see a proliferation of employee suspicion and legal recourse. Employees will seek to work where AI uplevels the workplace for all. Jaime Gonzales, Principal People Science Manager, Viva People Science R&D  

 

Prediction 12: In a world where AI removes many rote tasks, organizations need to watch out for the potential of increased employee burnout with what’s left behind 

One of the most concerning, unintended consequences of the productivity gains that AI will offer, is the chronic and sustained delivery of the “hard stuff” that is mentally taxing and stressful, but AI isn’t ready to handle. Some of the more mundane admin and seemingly superfluous tasks that will likely be removed with the adoption of AI, will  provide a much-needed opportunity for hard working employees to decompress. Organizations need to be mindful of finding opportunities for decompression in other ways, in order to sustain a healthy culture and work environment. Nicola Josephs, Principal People Scientist 

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