Bosses play catch-up with workers using AI on the job

Just one year in, AI is influencing the way people work, lead and hire around the world, according to a joint report from Microsoft and LinkedIn.

The report is based on a survey conducted by Edelman Data & Intelligence, covering 31,000 people across 31 jurisdictions, including Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Findings show that the use of generative AI at work has nearly doubled in the last six months. LinkedIn is seeing a significant increase in professionals adding AI skills to their profiles, and most leaders say they wouldn’t hire someone without AI skills. 

However, with many leaders in Asia worried that their company lacks an AI vision and with employees bringing their own AI tools to work, leaders have reached the hard part of any tech disruption — moving from experimentation to tangible business impact.

Ahmed Mazhari, president of Microsoft Asia, said employees are empowering themselves by adopting agile and innovative tools, oftentimes not pausing for the rollout of a coherent AI vision and roadmap from their organisations. 

“Leaders must demonstrate more appetite for rapid experimentation to realise the benefits of both productivity and increased metabolism in the industries they operate in,” said Mazhari.

The report highlights that employees want AI at work — and won’t wait for companies to catch up — with 83% of knowledge workers in the Asia-Pacific region now using AI at work. 

Employees, many of them struggling to keep up with the pace and volume of work, say AI saves time, boosts creativity, and allows them to focus on their most important work.

While 84% of the APAC leaders believe their company needs to adopt AI to stay competitive, 61% worry their organization’s leadership lacks a plan and vision to implement it. 

So, employees are taking things into their own hands, with 79% of APAC AI users bringing their own tools to work—Bring Your Own AI (BYOAI)—missing out on the benefits that come from strategic AI use at scale and putting company data at risk. The opportunity for every leader is to channel this momentum into ROI.

Also, for employees, AI raises the bar and breaks the career ceiling. A majority (55%) of global leaders are concerned about having enough talent to fill roles this year, with leaders in cybersecurity, engineering, and creative design feeling the pinch most.

About three-quarters (76%) of APAC leaders say they’d rather hire a less experienced candidate with AI skills than a more experienced candidate who lacked them.

As of late last year, we’ve seen a 142-times increase in members globally adding AI skills like ChatGPT and Copilot to their LinkedIn profiles. AI mentions in LinkedIn job posts drive a 17% bump in application growth.

Further, there is an emergence of the AI power user—and what they reveal about the future.

AI power-users have reoriented their workdays, saving 30 minutes per day, and 88% of them in APAC bookend their day with AI, using AI to get started in the morning and get ready for the following workday.

“Asia Pacific is witnessing a transformative shift at the workplace due to AI, prompting the need for fresh business approaches,” said Feon Ang, LinkedIn managing director in APAC. 

“With how rapidly our ecosystem is evolving, leaders who prioritise agility and invest in skill development gain a competitive edge by fostering an equipped workforce that is ready for AI,” said Ang.