Microsoft’s 2024 Work Trend Index Report showcases increased appetite for AI at work, highlights opportunity for leaders to transform enthusiasm into productivity gains

Organizations globally across industries have been forced to confront a new reality where employees, impatient with the pace at which their senior leadership has been adopting and deploying Artificial Intelligence across operations, have decided to bring their own AI tools to work. This is one of the key findings of Microsoft’s fourth annual Work Trend Index (WTI) Report.

The report, titled “AI at Work Is Here. Now Comes the Hard Part” conducted in partnership with LinkedIn, provides a comprehensive view of how AI is not only reshaping work, but also the labor market more broadly. It revealed that three in four employees (75%) are already using AI at help them tackle their daily workloads; the use of Generative AI at work specifically has doubled over the past six months. The report also found that despite 79% of business leaders agreeing that their company needs to adopt AI to stay competitive, a lack of clear AI vision and pressure to showcase immediate return on investment (ROI) is stalling plans for widespread adoption. As a result, a significant number (78%) of employees, unwilling to pass over the many benefits of utilizing AI, are bringing their own AI tools to work. However, more than 50% of AI users say that they don’t want to admit to using the technology at work for fear that their employers might think of them as “lazy” or “replaceable”.

Zubin Chagpar, Senior Director and Business Group Leader, Modern Work and Surface Devices, Microsoft CEMA, said that the findings of the report couldn’t be clearer on the massive appetite for AI adoption across the global workforce. “The biggest challenge now is for business leaders to take on a more agile approach when it comes to implementing AI to empower their employees, many of whom are struggling to keep up with the pace and volume of work today. Failure to do so will result in employees continuing to utilize their own AI solutions without the benefits that come from an organization’s strategic use of AI at scale such as enhanced cybersecurity and data privacy.”

Arda Atalay, Regional Director at LinkedIn, noted that the accelerated pace of AI adoption across various industries is impacting the labor market on multiple fronts, with employees looking to level up their AI skills to advance their careers, while employers continue their efforts to secure top talent that is proficient in leveraging AI. “In the UAE, this sentiment has translated into a relatively high net inflow of AI talent into the market, reversing a trend of net outflow of AI talent leaving the country. For example, our research revealed that AI talent with AI engineering skills represented 0.23% of LinkedIn members in the UAE in 2023, up from 0.08% in 2016. In addition, we also found that the ratio of AI talent hiring relative to overall hiring in 2023 has grown by a remarkable 13.4% year-over-year. This indicates the success of the UAE’s efforts to secure the best AI talent to accelerate its ambitious digital agenda.”

Microsoft’s 2024 WTI Report also found that close to 70% of professionals believed that AI would be instrumental in helping them get them promoted faster, while 76% said that they need AI skills to remain competitive in today’s job market. When it comes to acquiring talent, 66% of business leaders said that they would not hire someone without AI skills, and an even greater number (71%) said they would hire a less experienced candidate with AI skills over a more experienced candidate without them. 

“Our research with LinkedIn has shown that there are a growing number of career opportunities for professionals with aptitude in AI-powered tools such as Microsoft Copilot, which have been at the forefront of helping professionals across the UAE and the region tackle their digital debt and spend time on more fulfilling and enjoyable work. Alongside this, we have seen a significant increase in job listings for positions tied to the use of AI that didn’t exist a few years ago – Head of AI, for example, is a leadership role that grew by more than 28% in 2023 alone,” said Chagpar.

He added: “We recognize that concerns about AI replacing jobs will continue to linger in the labor market, given the pace at which the technology continues to evolve. However, we firmly believe that the future belongs to those that embrace opportunities to enhance their AI aptitude and constantly adapt to the dynamic workplace.”

To learn more about the findings of Microsoft’s fourth annual WTI Report, click here.