AI at work is here. Now comes the hard part.

 |   Microsoft New Zealand News Centre

People innovating at work

Microsoft and LinkedIn’s annual Work Trend Index reveals the state of AI at work, the cultural shifts at play and what businesses and employees need to know.

A year since generative AI arrived on the landscape, Microsoft’s fourth annual Work Trend Index – its first collaboration with LinkedIn – provides a comprehensive view of how AI is reshaping work and the labour market. To coincide with the report, Microsoft has also announced new innovations in Copilot for Microsoft 365 with guidance on how to create prompts and tailored support.

The Work Trend Index combines survey data from 31,000 knowledge workers and leaders across 31 countries, as well as trillions of productivity signals, telemetry data and LinkedIn jobs and labour data to show how AI is taking hold in the workplace.

Lucy Debono, Modern Work Business Director, Microsoft Australia and New Zealand, says 2024 is the year AI at work will become “real”.

“Organisations that apply AI to drive growth, manage costs, and deliver greater value to their customers will pull ahead. The data also shows that AI will play a major role in the labour market, with greater value placed on AI – both as a skillset and aptitude among job seekers, and for its ability to reshape workflows so employees can enjoy their work more.”

The Work Trend Index reveals three key themes:


  1. Employees want AI at work – and won’t wait for companies to catch up

New Zealand workers are among the strongest adopters of generative AI in the workplace, with 84% using the technology at work, higher than the global average of 75%. Employees who are using AI say it, saves time, boosts creativity, and allows them to focus on their most important work.

However, the rapid uptake means New Zealand leaders are more worried that their organisation lacks a plan and vision to implement AI (74% of New Zealand leaders, versus 60% of global leaders).

While leaders agree AI adoption is critical to remaining competitive, employees often aren’t waiting to be formally trained or introduced to the tools via their IT departments and leadership teams. 81% of AI users in New Zealand are bringing their own AI tools to work. The challenge (and opportunity) for every leader is to channel this momentum into return on investment, through a cohesive AI strategy.


  1. AI skills are giving jobseekers the edge

While AI and job loss are top of mind for some, Work Trend Index data shows employees with AI skills will get first pick.

In Australia, LinkedIn research shows 87% of hiring managers plan to hire or expand their workforce this year. However, in New Zealand, unemployment is forecast to rise to at least 5 per cent by the end of 2024.

This makes it even more important for New Zealand workers to upskill. However, only 39% of LinkedIn users, globally, have received AI training from their company.

So, professionals are skilling up on their own. As of late last year, there’s been a 142% increase in LinkedIn members adding AI skills like Copilot and ChatGPT to their profiles and a 160% increase in non-technical professionals using LinkedIn Learning courses to build their AI aptitude.

“Leaders have made their land grab for technical AI talent – with hiring up 323% globally in the last eight years. Now they’re turning their sights to non-technical talent with AI-aptitude. While leaders recognise the value of bringing on new employees with these skills, they’re missing the value of developing their own people by investing in AI tools or products for their teams and implementing training that’s specific to their industry and employees’ job functions,” says Matt Tindale, Managing Director, LinkedIn Australia and New Zealand.


  1. The rise of the AI power user and what they reveal about the future

Through the Work Trend Index research, four types of AI users emerged– from sceptics who rarely use AI, to power users who use it extensively. Compared to sceptics, AI power users have reoriented their workdays in fundamental ways, reimagining business processes and saving over 30 minutes per day.

Approximately 8 in 10 Kiwi power users frequently start their day with AI or use it to get ready for the following day, in line with the global average of 85%. Over 90% of power users say AI makes their overwhelming workload more manageable and their work more enjoyable.

However, the data shows New Zealand is behind other countries on engagement from business leadership. Power users in New Zealand are 36% more likely than the average worker to have heard from their CEO (compared to 61% globally), and 33% more likely to have heard from their function or department lead (compared to 40% globally), on the importance of using generative AI at work. This could be holding New Zealand back from driving greater ROI on AI investments.

The data also shows New Zealand workplaces need to encourage a culture of greater AI experimentation and training. Only 33% of power users in New Zealand say they are experimenting with different ways of using AI (compared to 68% of global AI power users); and just 24%  are frequently asking co-workers what prompts they find most useful (versus 40% globally). AI power users in New Zealand are also about 10% less likely to receive training on how to use AI for their specific role or function compared to global AI power users.

New innovations in Copilot for Microsoft 365 provide help with prompts

Many Microsoft customers have shared that writing the right AI prompts is the hardest part.

As part of the Work Trend Index launch, Microsoft has introduced Copilot for Microsoft 365 innovations to help customers add greater context to their AI prompts and get more from the generative AI technology. Over the coming months, auto-complete and rewrite features will be added to help improve prompts, along with a “catch-up” function that automatically suggests how to prepare for upcoming meetings. A Copilot Lab feature will also provide prompts tailored to specific teams and work duties.

Interested to level up your AI skills? LinkedIn has made free over 50 learning courses to empower professionals at all levels to advance their AI aptitude.

Head to WorkLab for the full Work Trend Index Report, and head to LinkedIn for more from LinkedIn’s Chief Economist, Karin Kimbrough, on how AI is reshaping the labour market.

For all blogs, videos and assets related to today’s announcements, please visit the Microsoft microsite.