The future of AI in the workplace: What to expect in 2024 and beyond


By Vasudeva Rao Munnaluri, RVP, India & SAARC, Zendesk

Employee expectations are rising–they expect knowledge and support to be readily available from anywhere, regardless of whether they are in-person, hybrid, or remote. That is why staying connected, improving productivity and increasing employee satisfaction needs to be top of mind for organisations in the new year. And given that employees are increasingly asked to do more with less, digital tools are needed to enhance productivity, not detract from it.

Thankfully, recent advancements in AI have brought hope for brighter days in 2024, and employees are optimistic about what it can do for their productivity. Globally, more than half (52%) of employees globally expect to see some positive impact of AI on their career over the next five years, with nearly a third (31%) saying it’ll increase their productivity and efficiency at work, a recent PwC study found.

With the whirlwind of new AI tools and capabilities entering the market, organisations need to be thoughtful and strategic about how they use it to enhance employee experience. Although it is still in the early days, businesses should be prepared to move swiftly because the future of work is already here.

AI as a virtual assistant, driving productivity
In 2024, organisations are expected to use AI to improve productivity in IT, HR and operations. EX solutions with pre-configured bots eliminate the need to train the AI as it can be deployed in minutes and not months. AI could act as a virtual assistant, helping employees with mundane, repetitive and time-consuming tasks, freeing up their time to focus on higher value work and minimising distractions in their day.

AI can prompt HR and IT teams with insights and suggest the right macros to apply to solve the employee’s issue quicker. It can also easily classify incoming requests and allow teams to power workflows based on the right context. Onboarding new employees can become much more seamless and standardised, guiding employees working remotely or in the office through routine training. More organisations are expected to adopt these technologies and as innovations in the industry progress, AI will boost productivity like never before.

Unified, cost-effective employee experience
One of the challenges to AI adoption within a business is organisational silos between its HR, IT, and operations teams. According to a study by McKinsey & Co, 40 percent of employees across the world say that complex organisational structure is a major cause for inefficiencies.

In 2024, AI has the potential to empower better collaboration, allowing the technology to be used in more advanced ways across departments. As AI continues to develop, IT, HR, Operations, and other departments can apply it in various ways to deliver a great employee experience, which can help to control costs and increase productivity. AI will be the unifying factor across a vast network of internal data, applications, and tools.

For instance, most enterprises have numerous policies, protocols, practices and processes. With so much required knowledge, HR teams may become overwhelmed. In 2024, organisations can improve employee welfare with AI solutions that offer teams a way to find the information that they need easily. Reducing stress and workloads helps them become proactive rather than reactive. A great example of AI at the workplace is Workrise, a workforce management solution in the energy sector. With AI for employee experience, the company streamlined operations, reduced costs, and freed up time taken to complete tasks. Workrise was able to save eight hours of work per week, equal to $20,000 in quarterly savings due to AI solutions for EX. With a unifying EX solution, the company was able to utilise it in real-time, reducing repetitive tasks, automating support and more.

Generative AI, a game changer
With generative AI bots built on large specific data sets, they can deliver a lot more on accuracy. Capabilities such as answering questions in real time, intent and language detection, which would have taken months to build and train, can now be deployed in a matter of days with the right EX solutions.

In its existing form, generative AI is great at providing highly conversational responses but it lacks the context to answer questions about the business. If businesses want to adopt generative AI for EX, they must ensure it is built on purpose-specific data sets so accuracy and reliability are ensured. It enables HR and IT teams to deliver empathetic, personalised replies while saving time, as the technology can summarise tickets and adjust the tone of written responses. Generative AI also holds much promise in improving self-service. For employees, finding self-service information—like parental leave policies or the steps involved in replacing a laptop—is often more difficult than it needs to be. A robust knowledge base is an effective and cost-efficient way to improve the employee experience. Generative AI-powered chatbots enable self-service at scale. It detects trends in employee requests and can draft help centre articles for admins to review.

We are only beginning to scratch the surface of what generative AI can do. From creating conversational responses, drafting emails, and summarising meetings to automating repetitive tasks, providing 24X7 employee support and even curating help centre articles, the future of generative AI holds great promise for EX.

The Future
AI will play an increasingly important role in the workplace in the years to come. And when implemented thoughtfully, it will not act as a depersonalising force, but as a tool to make interactions more humanised and personable. Generative AI will empower EX with advanced tools, amplifying the human element.

While there is still no replacement for human connection—especially at a time when workers are faced with increased pressures on multiple fronts–AI will be an incredibly valuable tool in 2024 and beyond. Happy employees will remain crucial to any company’s success and AI will be central to taking some of the pressure off teams, especially those under-resourced.

Organisations exploring ways to harness AI for the employee experience should have a robust human-automation strategy in place to harness AI safely and efficiently to ensure employees feel well-equipped and empowered to use new AI solutions, or it will end up creating more friction than ease. Those that do will surely reap the rewards in the year ahead and beyond.


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