HSM Spotlight: How Generative AI Will Shape the Future of Work

Earlier I had a phone call with my parents in Hong Kong. My dad, a retired banker in his mid-60s, excitedly shared with me his latest adventure. He has been tuning into a podcast about ChatGPT and successfully applied the recommended prompts to generate a list of health tips. Unsurprisingly, he was addicted to this ubiquitous generative artificial intelligence (AI) tool since then and started asking questions every day for life hacks to solve daily hassles.

And we all know generative AI can do far beyond than that.

Generative AI has taken the world by storm since November 2022. Not only are individuals like my dad embracing tools like ChatGPT, but thousands of organisations are also hopping on board. Many have already prioritised generative AI as a key business imperative, pouring in huge capital to develop their AI models for higher productivity and efficiency.

According to the latest McKinsey Global Institute report, generative AI could create £3.4 trillion in global corporate profit annually and could automate at least 50% of people’s time spent on work activities by a midpoint of 2045. Over the last few decades, organisations have used technology to automate routine and manual tasks and generative AI has kick-started another rapid change in how we work, particularly for knowledge workers. It augments non-routine and analytical tasks

J.P. Morgan Chase is developing ChatGPT-liked AI models to assist investors in selecting customised financial products, whereas Salesforce is empowering its customer relationship management to imbue AI-generated automatic responses with more personalised and closer-to-human experiences.

While more successful use cases continue to surface, it is worth being mindful that generative AI also sparks concerns over job security. BBC News reported an outcry of ‘AI Anxiety’ this year when people feel apprehensive about their jobs being displaced by AI machines. Meanwhile, optimists believe that generative AI will create more roles and jobs, complemented by the new skills and ways of working.

Professor Lynda Gratton, the founder and CEO of HSM Advisory, expands on Daron Acemoglu’s research on human and machine connections at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, using the analogy of ‘winners’ and ‘losers’:

Winners – people who successfully acquire new skills and transition to a higher-paid jobs.
Neutral Workers – people who are reskilled and transition to equivalent new roles.
Losers – people at high risk of job displacement due to technology, necessitating a move to lower-paid and less secure positions.

So, what can leaders do within their organisations to address these challenges? Several actions can be taken at different levels to help people adapt to the emerging new normal:

Individuals – adopting a growth mindset and sharing best practices within the teams.
Managers – role modelling learning behaviours and creating a safe environment for experimentation.
Organisations – communicating a clear vision of the AI strategies, building narratives to reassure people on job security, and ensuring career resilience for people even with generative AI .

To navigate the future of work as generative AI continues to evolve, organisations and their people are poised to embrace the opportunities, share the ownership, and champion the changes, in order to adapt to this big shift effectively.

As Richard Baldwin, a professor of international economics at IMD Business School, said in the World Economic Forum 2023, “AI won’t take your job, it’s somebody using AI that will.”

Author: Nik Cheng, Consultant at HSM Advisory