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Impact of AI in the Workplace: Improving Human-Centred Approach Nov 28, 2023

AI Impact on Workforce

The rise in popularity of artificial intelligence and automation has ushered in a transformative wave within our workforce. Let’s rewind to 2017, when the McKinsey Global Institute’s report offered a glimpse into the transformation of our workforce through AI and automation. This report painted a compelling picture: only a mere 5 per cent of occupations were projected to be fully automated, but a substantial 60 per cent were poised to see at least 30 per cent of their tasks automated. It was a clear signal that the workforce dynamics were on the brink of a profound shift, with most fields transforming and non-routine tasks poised for automation.

Fast forward to today, the velocity of AI’s advancement has ushered in a new era of disruption. The World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs Report warns that 43 per cent of work tasks will be automated. Furthermore, a quarter of jobs are poised for transformation by 2027. This shift extends even to process-based tasks. It’s clear that if a task doesn’t require a strong human-emotional connection, it’s poised for automation. Sam Altman, founder of Open AI, suggests that machine learning will likely supplement repetitive tasks not reliant on human emotional bonds.

While STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is rightly emphasised as the future of work, we must remember the enduring value of human interaction and the unique skills that make us distinctly human.

The future of work unfolds as a blend of technology and manual intervention. Regardless of how advanced our workforce tools become, people remain at the heart of envisioning, building and navigating the seismic shifts in our work environments. The sustainability and growth of businesses pivot on their ability to retain a people-first mindset while embracing new technologies.

To unlock the full potential of generative AI, or indeed any technology, organisations must adopt a holistic, people-centred perspective in an increasingly digital world of work. The seamless integration of technology and the irreplaceable human touch will ultimately define the future of work.

Using AI in the Workplace

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) is leading the way in transforming the workplace. It can turn user input into valuable outputs, such as custom code, data analysis, and draft reports. This innovation presents a significant business opportunity, with projections estimating that spending on AI software will reach a substantial $64 billion by 2025.

Organisations need to find a balance between utilising efficient tools and processes to create sustainable value and investing in the growth of their workforce. This investment should aim to provide an exceptional employee experience and support the holistic development of employees.

AI goes beyond automating mundane tasks. It can potentially personalise employee training, address biases, and promote workplace inclusion, ultimately contributing to a healthier work-life balance. We should embrace these opportunities and recognise AI’s potential to achieve a better equilibrium between work and personal life.

While generative AI is exciting, its full potential can only be realised by those who use it. We must expand our capabilities with new tools, gain better insights, and deliver rapid solutions while preserving our humanity. The thoughtful integration of generative AI can significantly impact the overall employee experience.

Technology profoundly influences employees in their personal lives, shaping specific expectations in the workplace. Younger employees seamlessly blend their physical and digital lives, placing a high value on authenticity and transparency. When implementing generative AI, it’s crucial to consider this generation’s preferences for talent retention and attraction.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to technology adoption. Younger employees may benefit from AI-enabled self-services, while others may require additional training and support to adapt to new tools.

Will AI in the Workplace Replace Humans?

As the world increasingly digitises, there’s a common misconception that computers outperform humans in every aspect. While it’s true that computers excel at tasks involving repetitive calculations and vast data processing, they lack the essential qualities of critical thinking and emotional intelligence that humans possess. To truly appreciate the value of both humans and computers, we must recognise and leverage their respective strengths.

Hans Moravec, a mathematician at Carnegie Mellon University, has highlighted what’s known as “Moravec’s Paradox.” AI shines in computational tasks where computers have a clear advantage over humans, while humans excel in tasks that require understanding context, making connections, and comprehending the “why” behind things. In the words of Picasso, computers are limited because they only provide answers, while humans possess the unique skill of asking the right questions to elevate understanding.

It’s crucial to foster curiosity and encourage people to generate prompts that lead to enhanced AI outputs. However, the real superpower of humans lies in their capacity to grasp and interpret context-specific nuances with precision. Therefore, sharpening critical thinking skills is essential when evaluating AI-generated content’s accuracy and ethical implications. ChatGPT may generate many ideas, but it often lacks the contextual understanding that humans possess. Thus, it’s our responsibility to critically assess its outputs and determine their appropriateness for the given situation. ChatGPT may be certain, but it’s frequently inaccurate, and it’s up to us to make informed judgments about its content.

Using AI in the Workplace to Make Business More Human-Centric

Even with the advancement of AI in the Workplace, humans remain the driving force. While the future of AI remains uncertain, we can anchor ourselves in our beliefs, values, and choices. People shape the trajectory of AI, not the other way around.

As AI continues to evolve, we should empower our teams to develop their form of AI – Adaptive Intelligence. This means embracing what’s within their control, like values, beliefs, and purpose, and approaching change with a growth mindset. With Adaptive Intelligence, they become resilient and grounded, ensuring that, as AI integrates further, they can retain their humanity, empathy, and ethics.

A human-centred organisation involves fulfilling a purpose for its users, customers, and community. It focuses on improving human experiences, values its diverse, empowered teams, and embeds these principles into its core. This ongoing endeavour strives for a utopian ideal where work becomes more human-centric.

AI, when thoughtfully implemented, can make work more bearable and human-centric. It has the potential to streamline repetitive tasks, providing a paradoxical blend of efficiency and a focus on human well-being, contributing to fairer working conditions.

Elevation of Human to Human Equation in the Workplace

Humans like humans. AI has its uses in streamlining work but lacks the nuances required for an emotionally complex world. In many cases, automation isn’t the solution. Remember those frustrating encounters with automated customer service? It’s time to prioritise people.

The idea of working purely out of boredom, as John Maynard Keynes once prophesied, isn’t our reality today. However, his words about adaptability and invention being crucial for growth still hold. We can’t stop what’s begun, but can ensure AI’s responsible use and engage in open discussions within our teams and organisations.

Technology can’t replace human connection. We crave it, and without it, our mental health and well-being suffer. To thrive, prioritise the human-to-human equation with these strategies:

  1. Cultivate a Human-Centric Culture: Prioritise employee well-being, mental health, and work-life balance. A supportive, inclusive work environment fosters interpersonal connections and encourages top performance.
  2. Invest in Emotional Intelligence: Training in emotional intelligence equips employees with the skills to understand and connect with others. It builds more substantial teams, enhances leadership effectiveness, and improves customer interactions.
  3. Encourage Collaboration: Break down silos by promoting collaboration across teams and departments. This fosters knowledge-sharing and brings diverse perspectives together for innovative problem-solving.

The human touch remains indispensable in the ever-evolving landscape of work and technology. Prioritising people is the key to thriving organisations and successful teams.


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