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AI-augmented work is here and it’s making the employee experience better, says Zendesk report

Zendesk annual Employee Experience Trends Report shows nearly 80 percent of IT and HR leaders say AI has significantly improved employees’ quality of work

Published May 16, 2024

Zendesk today released its annual Employee Experience (EX) Trends Report, signaling a consensus among businesses that the second half of 2024 will be critical for not just embracing AI, but starting to show impact. Companies will also adopt new work practices, and implement data-centric approaches to support employees. Leaders are proactively adapting to these evolving trends to maintain a competitive edge and foster a workforce that is both productive and satisfied.

“We’ve moved beyond asking ‘when’ technology like AI will impact our work to focusing on ‘how’ it can be most effective. It’s already revolutionized customer experience with smarter solutions, personalization, and increased efficiency. Now, we’re seeing its transformative power in employee experience as well,” said Craig Flower, Chief Information Officer, Zendesk. “We’re entering a new era where AI doesn’t replace human effort but elevates it, creating workplaces that are more intelligent and empathetic.”

The report reveals nearly 80 percent of IT and HR leaders recognize AI has significantly improved employees’ quality of work. Another 84 percent say that they’ve already seen a positive ROI on EX tech investments over the past year. The report also highlights three key trends driving the intelligent EX era:

  • AI-augmented workforce: EX leaders are building an AI-enhanced workforce that improves the entire employee journey, focusing on efficiency and personalized experiences.
  • Adaptable and secure experiences: Amidst the shift to flexible work, EX leaders prioritize tailoring and securing a supportive digital workspace for all employees, regardless of location.
  • Data-driven strategies: EX leaders are using data analytics to optimize the workplace for better performance and employee satisfaction.

Building an AI-augmented workforce
Employee Experience leaders are committed to cultivating a workforce that is intuitive, collaborative, and intelligent. They think AI is the tool that will help with 81 percent believing it is essential in boosting employees’ ability to tackle complex tasks, such as analyzing extensive consumer data to craft the best strategies. They view AI as more than a fix – it is an agent that turns challenges into openings for creativity, innovation, and organizational advancement. Furthermore, close to 80 percent say that integrating AI into their workforce is not just an upgrade – it’s a strategy to carve out a competitive edge in the marketplace. By leveraging AI, teams enhance employee services with innovations in self-service, workflow automation, and training, leading to a more responsive and empowered workforce.

A push for flexibility and personalized approaches
Flexibility and personalization are the new benchmarks for EX excellence. With 82 percent of leaders acknowledging the critical need for flexibility, they are shifting away from universal solutions to more agile, personalized approaches. For example, instead of a one-size-fits all approach to training, companies can leverage AI-driven platforms that adapt to each employees’ skills and learning styles, which helps offer tailored courses and growth opportunities. This shift is driven by a growing preference for self-service and AI, with 81 percent of leaders acknowledging the positive impact of these technologies on employee satisfaction.

“Embracing AI is really about changing the way we work. By taking over tasks such as onboarding, AI empowers teams to concentrate on broader strategic objectives that can push the business forward,” said Caroline Jessen, Chief People and Diversity Officer, Zendesk. “It offers a rich source of insights, helping leaders navigate talent management and workforce planning. This is more than an addition to any leader’s toolkit – it is actively redefining our workplace to be more supportive and efficient for every team member no matter where they are.”

Data-driven strategies steer business decisions
Data-centric approaches are being embraced to guide EX business decisions. The conventional methods of performance measurement are being reevaluated, as 66 percent of leaders struggle to assess the productivity of remote workers. The challenge of maintaining the high productivity levels seen before the pandemic is felt by almost 60 percent of leaders, especially with remote work. The key to improving this is by using AI and advanced analytics, which helps leaders get a clearer picture of how engaged and productive employees are, even when they are not in the office.

These insights go beyond just making day-to-day tasks better; they guide big-picture decisions that adjust the employee experience to match the current economic situation. As focusing on the employee experience becomes more important for businesses, there is a growing demand for clear metrics that truly reflect how well the workforce is doing. By using data, leaders can fine-tune their plans to keep productivity high, make employees happier, and drive the company’s growth through changing times.

The future of EX
Equipping IT and HR leaders with data-centric strategies means setting the stage for a transformative employee experience. With new technologies at their disposal, they are poised to redefine EX, marking this year as pivotal in its evolution. Dive deeper into the future of intelligent EX by downloading the EX Trends Report. Also, register for Zendesk’s EX Trends Webinar on June 11, where experts will explore AI and the future of work.

Methodology
The EX Trends Report is based on a comprehensive global survey, spanning 17 countries and gathering insights from approximately 800 business leaders, predominantly from IT and HR sectors, who are at the forefront of EX decision-making.

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