New research from Upwork reveals generative AI’s impact on workplace dynamics and hiring trends. Conducted by Upwork’s Research Institute, the study surveyed 1,400 U.S. business leaders ranging from senior managers to C-suite executives. A key finding is that two-thirds of C-suite leaders plan to boost hiring due to generative AI, indicating potential benefits for small businesses seeking to optimize their workforce.
Generative AI, powered by tools like ChatGPT and Midjourney, is witnessing widespread adoption among leaders, with 59% embracing these advanced technologies. Interestingly, these tools are increasingly accessible to non-technical users, further democratizing AI’s usage. However, the study also identifies a disconnect between leaders and their workforce in terms of generative AI’s adoption and anticipated impact, suggesting an opportunity for greater alignment and training within organizations.
The study’s key findings underscore that generative AI is set to influence hiring trends significantly. Around 49% of business leaders expect to hire more freelancers and full-time employees due to generative AI. Among the C-suite respondents, 64% predict an increase in hiring across all professional types – the highest level of agreement among the surveyed.
A noteworthy finding is the apparent disconnect between C-suite executives and their leadership teams on generative AI adoption. While 73% of C-suite executives believe their company embraces generative AI, only 54% of VPs, 52% of directors, and 53% of senior managers share this perspective.
Remote-first companies and mid-sized firms (501-5,000 employees) emerge as more likely to embrace generative AI, with 68% and 62% adoption rates, respectively. In comparison, 53% of companies operating full-time in physical offices and 41% of larger companies (5,001+ employees) are leveraging generative AI.
“The early findings from our study reveal that embracing generative AI throughout all levels of an organization will be imperative,” said Kelly Monahan, Managing Director, Upwork Research Institute. She pointed out that the disconnect between C-suite executives and their teams likely stems from a lack of training and understanding of generative AI’s work impact. She emphasized the need for a comprehensive change management strategy, including clear communication about AI’s expected outcomes, clear policies, and promoting a learning orientation among teams.
In light of these findings, small businesses may find value in evaluating their AI adoption strategies, considering the potential for increased workforce productivity and innovation and the imperative of building a culture of learning and digital fluency across their organizations.