AI at work is here — but now comes the hard part

LinkedIn and Microsoft report shows leaders need to build for agility, not stability

AI at work is here — but now comes the hard part

This article was produced in partnership with LinkedIn

With 84% of Australian knowledge workers now using generative AI to enhance productivity and creativity, it’s clear that the technology has taken hold of workplaces across the country. Australia's adoption of generative AI in the workplace ranks ahead of Europe and North America, and according to recent data its use is not only reshaping work, but the Australian labour market more broadly.

The fourth annual Work Trend Index, the first joint report between LinkedIn and Microsoft, combines survey data from 31,000 knowledge workers and leaders across 31 countries, as well as trillions of productivity signals, telemetry data, and LinkedIn jobs and labour data. It provides a comprehensive picture of the impact of more ubiquitous AI usage, including what employers need to know — and what they need to do — about this rapid uptake. 

Upskill and reskill, but don’t stand still

While the impact of AI is top of mind for some, Work Trend Index report data shows employees with AI skills will get first pick as the world of work evolves.

Australian business leaders are clear about the value of AI skills in candidates, with three quarters (75%)  saying they wouldn’t hire someone without AI skills — well above the global average of 66%.

And yet, with only 39% of LinkedIn users, globally, having received AI training from their company, professionals are taking matters into their own hands and skilling up on their own. As of late 2023, LinkedIn saw a 142x increase in members adding AI skills like Copilot and ChatGPT to their profiles and a 160% increase in non-technical professionals using LinkedIn Learning courses to build their AI aptitude.

Having already made their land grab for technical AI talent — hiring is up 323% globally in the last eight years — “leaders are now turning their sights to non-technical talent with AI-aptitude,” says Adam Gregory, Senior Director, APAC Talent & Learning Solutions at LinkedIn.

“While leaders recognise the value of bringing on new employees with these skills, they’re missing the value of developing their own people by investing in AI tools or products for their teams and implementing training that’s specific to their industry and employees’ job functions,” he continues. “Leaders need to build for agility instead of stability and invest in skill building internally that will give their organisations a competitive advantage and create more efficient, engaged and equitable teams.”

It’s increasingly clear that AI is now table stakes for employees, and savvy employers should seize opportunities to upskill and reskill — anything but stand still — as the world of work becomes supercharged by this technology. At the end of the day, it’s about future-proofing your business, says Gregory.

“The biggest thing that will set any organisation up for success is building a culture of continuous learning."

Employers need to develop an AI point of view

While Australian leaders are in line with global counterparts that AI adoption is critical to remain competitive (80% and 79%, respectively) they are more worried that their organisation lacks a plan and vision to implement it (70% of Australian leaders, versus 60% of global leaders).

The Work Trend Index shows many employees are taking things a step further than upskilling: 78% of Australian AI users are bringing their own AI (BYOAI) tools to work. BYOAI extends beyond Gen Z, with more than 70% of employees in every age group driving this movement globally, making it clear that employees are eager to lift the weight of work via AI’s capabilities and they’re not willing to wait for companies to catch up.

This presents an opportunity for leaders to channel this momentum and bridge the disconnect by providing clarity on responsible AI use that aligns with their organization’s security and privacy requirements.

AI in the wild: How organisations are enhancing learning and talent management

For Australian superannuation fund UniSuper, a champion of AI-enabled recruitment, the first win is automation. Adopting AI into workflows has effortlessly cleared employees of administrative tasks and been instrumental in refining content. Before utililsing AI in learning or recruitment strategies, it's important to create a culture that embraces the technology, notes Luke Collard, UniSuper's Head of Talent Acquisition, because AI can cause unease in some people while others can be too quick to jump in without considering its strategic uses.

"It's like the Internet when it first came out: people were very excited and wanted to throw themselves into it, but we need to take a step back and understand where it's best used, so we're not investing our time and money into something that isn't going to give us a benefit."

Legal and consulting firm MinterEllison agrees it’s not just about using AI, but enhancing its learning and development approach to upskill on AI.

"We know Generative AI will increase people's productivity and efficiency, but also improve people's experience in the workplace by freeing up time for more interesting work," says Kate Booth, Head of Learning and Development at MinterEllison.

"Traditionally, learning is seen as attending courses or seminars. Building capability in GenAI is a great example of how we must continue to shift that, to view learning as something that happens in the flow of work – through mentoring and hands-on experimentation with these tools, with strong guardrails."

That means both utilising AI and ensuring employees are equipped to use AI with confidence.

The latter point is particularly important for individuals from a future-proofing perspective, and MinterEllison is helping its employees' future-proof their skills by including AI as a key pillar in its upskilling programs.

"Earlier this year we rolled out an intensive 12-week program across MinterEllison aimed at enhancing capabilities in using AI," says Booth. "LinkedIn Learning has been a crucial partner, providing content that's not only high-quality and practical but also engaging. We curate this content to align with our specific needs, enhancing its impact, to support safe, meaningful experimentation with AI tools."

“LinkedIn Learning’s AI-powered coach helps by providing real-time responses to learners by drawing on the entire LinkedIn Learning content library for advice and helping our people find learning opportunities that are most relevant to them.”

Interested in leveling up your AI skills? LinkedIn has made free over 50 learning courses to empower professionals at all levels to advance their AI aptitude.

Head to WorkLab for the full Work Trend Index report, and head to LinkedIn for more from LinkedIn’s Chief Economist, Karin Kimbrough, on how AI is reshaping the labour market.

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