How enterprises are leveraging AI to power the employee experience era
The race to adopt AI is well underway, but how will the rise of AI power the next phase of employee experience transformation? How are leading enterprises planning to use AI to shape the future of their workplaces? And what advice do industry experts have on using AI to solve pressing EX challenges? We asked them and wrote up our findings.
Can AI = EX?
At Unite 23, Unily’s landmark employee experience conference attended by 600 EX leaders from around the world, one of the hottest topics we tackled was how AI will be used to accelerate employee experience transformation. In fact, we dedicated an entire session to exploring this question.
We brought together a diverse panel, including technology and employee experience experts and two enterprise leaders making waves in the space to share ideas on what the AI-powered future of work could look like, and how enterprises are already using AI to an EX advantage.
- Drew Munn, Strategy Partner: Future of Work at Gallagher;
- Sam Marshall, Director at ClearBox Consulting;
- Maxime Horman, Communications Manager at The Adecco Group France;
- Charisse Soutar, General Manager, Sustainability & Employee Communications at REA Group.
With Unily’s Employee Experience Lead Kaz Hassan facilitating the conversation, panelists answered EX leaders’ most pressing questions about AI, including how to navigate the change management process associated with these innovations and key tips for gaining support from Legal and HR departments.
Here are some of the key lessons we learned through the course of the discussion. For a deeper dive, you can still watch the on-demand recording (linked at the end).
Takeaway #1: Content creation is far from the only AI use case EX leaders should consider
While many EX leaders are eager to begin using tools like ChatGPT to streamline content creation, Soutar encourages them to expand their horizons. “For people that are using [AI tools] for the first time, they should broaden their experimentation rather than just using tools to put out pieces of content. In the employee experience space, we all do engagement surveys and we’ve got people to go through the data and pull out insights. What can we do to use AI to get quick information from there?”, she asks.
In describing an innovative way that Adecco uses AI, Horman says, “Employees can upload their CV and the AI is able to analyze it and suggest skills to the user so they can self assess their skills and develop their careers.”
Marshall highlights robotic process automation as another AI use case that EX leaders should have on their radars, noting, “Robotic process automation has been a big thing for awhile. We have a lot of routine jobs that we do, like exporting all of your data from Salesforce into another system. What’s coming now is AI that will do that and combine natural language instructions to move the data and generate an email. And that will scale really well.”
Takeaway #2: Creating rules and strategies to work with AI is a balancing act
Some EX leaders may see doom-and-gloom headlines about AI and decide to shy away from experimenting with it. However, Soutar warns against such a close-minded approach, noting, “There’s a mindset of ‘If you don’t understand something, shut it down,’ but I don’t think that’s the right way to go when AI is moving at such an accelerated pace.” Instead, leaders like Horman are introducing AI powered tools, as well as structures and guidelines on how to use them. “We have more and more questions to solve, so we’re creating governance that we will install directly in the near future,” he explains.
Rather than fearing that tools like AI-powered chatbots will be inaccurate, Munn argues that these systems may actually be an improvement from the siloed, trickle-down way many employees are accustomed to receiving information. “The first thing HR will say when you ask to build an HR chatbot that’s going to answer employees’ questions is ‘Yeah, but it tells you things that are wrong,’” he says. “But at least when a chatbot is wrong, we can look back and understand why. When we’re relying on ten layers of management and each one is saying something different to employees, then you’re creating this huge conflicting view across the business and you don’t have that one central failure point to de-bug,” he concludes.
Beyond the hype: AI and the digital workplace
Will AI take over your job? Or is it changing the fundamental nature of the digital workplace? Together with AI experts from Microsoft and ClearBox's Sam Marshall, Unily aims to dispel popular myths surrounding AI in the digital workplace and bring you real-world examples of how you can employ AI technologies in your digital workplace.
Takeaway #3: AI will transform daily responsibilities for EX and IC leaders
Contrary to some peoples’ fears, AI is not imminently going after anyone's job; but it will change what day-to-day responsibilities look like for most of us, including leaders in EX and IC. “In EX, we still need humans to deal with humans,” Soutar explains. “But there’s going to be a requirement to skill differently. AI is going to take away some of those grunt tasks.” Marshall expresses a similar sentiment, noting, “EX will become much better because we can take away some of the grit that slows us down. If AI can help us make progress on meaningful tasks by taking care of all the tasks that aren’t meaningful to us, then work can become more rewarding.”
Munn previews what this shift in responsibilities might look like for internal communicators by saying, “Ultimately communicators will do more rewarding tasks. We’ve been told that copywriting is what communications is and it really isn’t. We’re changing the way we’re doing our jobs so everyone can do more high value tasks.”
As a Communications Manager, Horman shares his perspective, noting, “From my internal comms point of view, I think AI will be really helpful for us. Features like an AI publishing assistant is something we’ll be happy to use because it gives us a precious helper to create content for our users. We will continue to write articles but if we can give the AI keywords or tone of voice notes, it will really help is to be more focused on new tasks for our team to continue to innovate as a business partner.”
Watch the full session on-demand
There’s little doubt that AI holds the potential to transform the employee experience and usher in a bright future of work, but how you approach its application will surely define its success. AI isn’t a silver bullet and there’s much to be learned through the experimentation that will abound over the next years. The more we can learn from our peers now, the faster we can accelerate toward meaningful value. For more insights on this intriguing topic, you can catch up on the full session and many more on demand now.
Unite 23 - EX + AI: How employee experience leaders are thinking about AI
AI, automation, machine learning – all are fast becoming the buzzwords of the year, but can they really power the future of employee experience? Our panel of enterprise employee experience are here to reveal how they are thinking about leveraging AI to enhance the next generation of employee experiences. Join us for an interactive discussion on the future of digital employee experience powered by AI and discover how leading enterprises are preparing for an AI-powered future of work.