5 minute read 11 Dec 2023
Using AI to unlock human potential in your firm

How can your organisation use AI as the catalyst to release human potential

By Tim Bergin

EY Ireland Partner, People Consulting Innovation Lead

People and Innovation Leader. Passionate about transforming the people agenda. Proud family man.

5 minute read 11 Dec 2023

As AI transforms the workplace, it prompts questions about the future 'human differentiator.' A people-focused approach to AI adoption can address job displacement fears and unlock economic growth, fostering a thriving and human-centric future of work.

In brief
  • AI has huge potential to enhance productivity and revolutionise work, but its integration should consider the changing role of humans in the workplace.
  • Overcoming reluctance and fear toward AI integration requires a clear plan for employee engagement and skill training, which currently only 22% of employers prioritise.
  • Emphasising the relief AI provides from mundane tasks can be a key in reshaping workplaces for better experiences, as AI's effectiveness relies on being human-centric.

With the rapid proliferation of AI, are we overlooking an immediate and golden opportunity to reimagine the role that our people play in the workplace?

The rise of Generative AI prompts business to ask critical questions when it comes to their workforce, it’s impact and indeed opportunities for people. AI is a transformative technology with the potential to revolutionise the way work is accomplished across all industries and sectors. Alongside disrupting traditional workflows and processes, it also possesses immense potential for generating insights and even novel solutions across a range of contexts.

AI’s positive impact in the workplace is multi-faceted, with the potential to contribute towards enhancing employee productivity and experience, collaboration, cost-efficiency, as well as unlocking the potential for our workforce to play a new role in areas that are being disrupted by AI.

With increasingly advanced AI-driven solutions disrupting the traditional workforce, what will the ‘human differentiator’ become?

One of the primary and widely recognised benefits of AI is to create efficiency by automating and augmenting in order to release workforce capacity. The use cases to achieve this objective are well-documented, from process automation to enabling self-serve and self-solve through the use of intelligent chatbots. Indeed, AI can also improve experience by allowing hyper-personalisation based on historical preferences and improving workplace experience by supporting complex tasks and collaboration.

However, the less explored impact of AI is the topic of what the ‘human differentiator’ will become in this new world. Where AI enables improvement in efficiency and experience, what will we do with the human capacity that is released when these solutions are introduced? A recent study has found that the introduction of AI tools resulted in an average productivity increase of 12.2%¹  & more than 40% of CEOs say they use Generative AI to inform their decision-making processes.²

Will we focus on building emotional intelligence and empathy to improve colleague and customer interactions? Will we reskill to create internal mobility to retain top performers? Will we redesign jobs and careers to acknowledge the enduring impact that Generative AI will have on traditional roles? These are crucial questions that must be addressed in parallel to successfully realise the holistic benefits of Generative AI, beyond the application of narrow use cases.    

How can we navigate AI adoption to successfully realise the longer-term benefits of transformation?

Synchronicity between an organisation’s people and the tools and technology they use is the key to any successful digital transformation project. A recent survey reveals that 84% of employers expect generative AI to be integrated into the workplace within the next year, a sentiment shared only with 49% of employees³. This significant disparity highlights the importance of clear communication & preparation by employers to engage with their employees on the topic of AI adoption in the workplace.

Successful AI Integration requires an organisation’s people to be at the heart of the change journey, surfacing and addressing any potential fear or reluctance related to the introduction of AI in the workplace. Traditionally, with the introduction of technology, we have focused on selling the benefits of what’s coming. However, with AI, ‘loss aversion’ is likely to be of greater importance to address, with workers already expressing concern about what they might lose with the broad range of applications associated with Generative AI.

This is evidenced in the recent 2023 EY Work Reimagined Survey which shows only 22% of employers are prioritising training in generative AI-related skills. Therefore, to successfully deliver the long-term value of Generative AI it will be crucial to engage the workforce and demonstrate a holistic plan. This must include a coherent view of what the ‘human differentiator’ will become in the future for our organisations, and how talent management and training and development strategies will facilitate employees upskilling and reskilling to take on new roles and responsibilities.

Investing in the overall AI transformation journey and putting people at the centre will help to allay fears about job displacement & privacy concerns and unlock the potential for economic growth which is forecasting AI integration within organisations to make a contribution to job creation that outweighs job displacement.⁴

How can we engage our people to unlock the endless opportunities associated with AI?

In addition to allaying concerns about the impact of AI on our workplaces and ways of working, we can also highlight the significant benefits that AI can bring to the more mundane and repetitive tasks that are still prevalent across most organisations. This can be done by working with our people to identify the tasks that have the most detrimental impact on experience such as repetitive data entry, responding manually to recurring queries of the same nature, and a wide array of processing tasks. In this way, the onset of AI can provide the stimulus to work with our people to reshape the workplace and day-to-day experiences to allow us to deliver better employee and customer experience.
Dr. Mary Coghlan
EY Ireland Partner, Data, Analytics & AI

In essence, the integration of AI in the workplace holds immense potential, cultivating both productivity and innovation while fostering greater diversity and inclusion. However, it is crucial to understand that the effectiveness of technology relies on human-driven utilisation.

  • Show references#Hide references

    1. Navigating the Jagged Technological Frontier: Field Experimental Evidence of the Effects of AI on Knowledge Worker Productivity and Quality
    2. IBM Institute for Business Value, CEO decision-making in the age of AI
    3. 2023 EY Work Reimagined Survey
    4. Global impact of AI and Big-Data Analytics on Jobs 2023-2027 – Bergur Thormundsson


By embracing human-centric values during the implementation of AI, we can ensure a thriving and engaging future of work for our workforce.

About this article

By Tim Bergin

EY Ireland Partner, People Consulting Innovation Lead

People and Innovation Leader. Passionate about transforming the people agenda. Proud family man.