Artificial intelligence (AI) is driving major innovation across industries—but for many employees, it’s also a source of concern. Modern generative AI tools can almost instantly create imagery, text, and datasets, raising questions about long-term job security. In fact, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that 27% of jobs globally were at high risk of being automated. Fortunately, the answer to future success lies in augmenting workforces, not replacing them.

While AI represents a major competitive advantage, many companies are still in the process of identifying potential use cases. In doing so, it’s essential that businesses don’t lose sight of the human element, and ensure that their HR teams are involved in key AI decisions. Businesses that want to succeed in the new world of work have to answer three questions: How will AI change each employee’s workflow, what are the potential benefits of AI, and how can AI support human productivity? 

What Is an Augmented Workforce?

An augmented workforce refers to any organization where humans and machines work together in partnership. Through this collaboration, AI systems and human workers produce far greater results than either one working in isolation. This marks a shift from a working model premised solely on labor force to one premised on integrated technologies.

In addition to defining augmented workforce, it’s worth defining some related terms. Ensuring your employees understand the role of artificial intelligence within the workplace is critical in creating an augmented workforce. Here is some key terminology to help define the function of AI:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI): the ability of computers and machines to carry out tasks traditionally seen as requiring human cognition. Primarily intended for problem solving, AI now has a huge number of applications, from data analysis to image generation.

  • Machine learning (ML): a subfield of AI dedicated to training machines with algorithms to learn through repetition. Rather than following explicit instructions, ML systems use statistical models to adapt based on patterns within the data.

  • Intelligent automation: The act of automating repetitive manual processes to streamline employee workflows. Not only do automation tools boost accuracy and efficiency, they also enable employees to focus on higher business priorities.

An augmented workforce refers to any organization where humans and machines work together in partnership.

The Impact of AI on the Global Workplace

Organizations enabled by augmented workforces are already creating major changes in the global marketplace. Data from AlphaSense showed that almost 40% of companies in the blue-chip S&P 500 index mentioned AI or related terms in 2023 earnings calls. Business leaders must recognize that a major technological revolution isn’t just imminent—it’s already happened. But what does such a seismic change mean for the workplace?

According to research by McKinsey, less than 5% of occupations could be fully automated. However, for the majority of companies, complete automation isn’t the goal. That same study found that nearly 60% of workers had roles where over one-third of their activities could be automated. That represents a substantial change in role, responsibility, and the overall future of work.

If full automation isn’t the goal, the question remains as to how AI can support humans, not replace them. A 2023 Workday study found that 45% of decision-makers say AI and ML will benefit workers by creating new career paths. Despite this, a 2024 Workday study found that only 62% of leaders and 52% of employees welcome AI. That’s why it’s critical that businesses take the time to understand the potential benefits an augmented workplace offers.

The 5 Benefits of an Augmented Workforce

With more and more companies discussing how they use AI, it’s clear we’re undergoing a major shift. What differentiates AI from other more-focused technological innovations, however, is the breadth of its potential applications. That means the benefits have the potential to impact every aspect of your organization.

Each of the following five categories covers an area where augmented workforces are outperforming their competitors. Whether through automating repetitive tasks, streamlining recruitment, or identifying skills gaps, AI can help unlock your employees’ potential.

1. Increasing Efficiency Through Automation

Increasing productivity without decreasing employee satisfaction can be a difficult balancing act. What distinguishes intelligent automation is that it works from a human-centric perspective. AI automates routine and repetitive processes, freeing up employees to tackle tasks that require a human touch. AI organizes complex data and analyzes it, and then makes predictions, while employees think creatively and look at the bigger picture.

Critically, this human-machine relationship is collaborative, meaning that employees make decisions from data collected by AI. For decisions involving people, from employee scheduling to team reorganizations, important personal factors might not be captured in the data. Ultimately, your managers know their offices and assembly lines best—AI just helps them take action more swiftly. By keeping a human in the loop, you enable a more productive and satisfied augmented workforce.

Here are three areas where AI is already driving major efficiencies for organizations:

  • Optimizing schedules by matching labor demand with worker skills, availability, and preferences
  • Surfacing pertinent employee feedback when it matters most
  • Improved demand forecasting accuracy, matching changing markets and avoiding inventory shortfalls

A 2023 Workday study found that 45% of decision-makers say AI and ML will benefit workers by creating new career paths.

2. Streamlining Recruitment and Onboarding

First impressions matter, and that’s particularly true in recruiting and onboarding. Convoluted hiring portals, confusing interview practices, and poor scheduling can make acquiring talent impossible. That’s why HR departments spend a huge amount of time and resources on recruiting and onboarding. An augmented workforce solves many of those issues.

For recruiting, AI speeds up the recruiting process by identifying candidates with relevant skills for screening by human recruiters. Then, once an employee is hired, AI chatbots can provide quick answers to onboarding questions by using natural language processing. In both instances, AI enables HR professionals to make smarter, more effective decisions. Plus, by tackling simple requests, AI frees up employees to identify more pressing issues new hires may be having.

Here are three areas where AI is already streamlining recruitment and onboarding:

  • Drafting content for job requisitions and job descriptions based on simple prompts
  • Scanning huge numbers of job applications to identify candidates with the right skills for a role
  • Suggesting additional job opportunities to candidates based on their experience and skills

3. Improving the Employee Experience

Discussions around employee experience often focus on improving in-person aspects. More spaces to socialize at work, better desk equipment, or a wider array of snacks. However, limiting discussions on employee experience to the physical work environment is a mistake. A major benefit of workforce AI is in creating a company culture that is more accessible and inclusive.

In addition to streamlining workflows and automating common tasks, augmentation can reduce the barrier to entry for certain jobs. AI can provide tailored support and information based on employee needs, and support employee collaboration across the world. In doing so, it enables disabled employees to work where they can, and how they can. Most importantly, businesses can use AI to help measure employee engagement as a result of these changes.

Here are three areas where AI is already improving the employee experience:

  • Providing suggested trainings and learnings that match user needs
  • Tailoring shift patterns and workflows for each individual employee
  • Searching vast amounts of employee feedback to generate top-line insights

4. Enabling Personalized Employee Learning

Research by Forum and PwC shows that investing in skills training could increase GDP by $6.5 trillion by 2030. Despite this, only 0.5% of global GDP is invested toward adult lifelong learning. Often, businesses struggle to identify where skills gaps exist, and what skills they require. By using AI to process that data in real time, business leaders can gain a full view of their skills portfolio.

AI gives HR leaders a comprehensive dataset, revealing the relationships between different skills as well as development opportunities. In addition, AI can generate personalized learning paths based on reskilling needs. 54% of leaders say using AI to identify hidden skills would help them reskill their workforce and retain displaced talent. With intelligent automation, supporting employee learning and internal mobility is easier than ever.

Here are three areas where AI is already personalizing employee career development: 

  • Identifying and promoting growth opportunities to upskill workers and retain top talent
  • Delivering individualized learning pathways to workers in their natural flow of work
  • Tailoring recommendations for skills development based on employee preferences and career goals

5. Safeguarding Employee Well-being

When employee well-being suffers, the knock-on effects can be significant and wide ranging. In an augmented workforce, the early warning signs of declining well-being can be much easier to notice. HR can leverage AI analytics to flag issues that range from patterns of absence to declining employee engagement scores. Then, your people leaders can take direct action with the delicacy required.

Employee well-being also depends on psychological safety—meaning that employees thrive when they have a way to provide feedback confidentially. With AI, people leaders can surface trends and insights from their teams’ survey responses without sacrificing that security. By providing employees with a safe space to share their thoughts and then acting on the insights provided by AI, you create an inclusive culture.

Here are three areas where AI is already safeguarding employee well-being:

  • Calculating well-being and attrition risks and providing suggested actions
  • Summarizing high volumes of employee comments to identify trends and concerns
  • Enhancing personal assessments by providing data free from bias

“The Future of Jobs Report 2023” predicts that AI will automate 43% of work tasks by 2027.

Creating the Augmented Workforce of the Future With Workday

AI has already impacted millions of jobs, and the pace of change is only accelerating. “The Future of Jobs Report 2023” predicts that AI will automate 43% of work tasks by 2027. Companies must act now to reassure existing talent and further support them with the proper systemic integration of AI. Not only will early adopters get an immediate advantage, but they’ll also reap further benefits as AI continues to adapt and develop.

Tackling change management at that scale can be intimidating, but augmenting your workforce doesn’t have to be difficult. At Workday, we build AI into the core of our solutions, rather than bolting it on after. By embedding AI into our platform, our users can quickly leverage AI technology as part of their natural workflow, saving time on complicated integrations. For example, Workday People Analytics automatically surfaces personalized insights, highlighting top workforce trends, drivers, risks, and opportunities so that leaders can act on what matters most.

Our integrated approach further enables Workday to more easily match the rapid pace of AI development. We continuously implement new features, ensuring that users receive a consistent experience throughout the entire Workday environment. To learn more about how Workday is helping our customers create the workplace of tomorrow today, read “The Future-Ready Talent Strategy.”

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