A man carrying a box leaves the office, which has glass walls and people situated throughout, as he has decided to work elsewhere.
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Irish workers are embracing AI ahead of their employers

27 Jun 2024

A Microsoft Index report showed that Irish employers may be falling behind on the AI wave, causing many workers to jump ship.

Microsoft have today (27 June) released the 2024 Work Trend Index, which shows that the number of employees moving jobs in Ireland has increased to its highest level in three years. 

The survey, which was conducted by Amárach Research, collected information from 650 workers across a range of organisations in Ireland and shows that one-in-four respondents had changed their employer in the previous 12 months. 

The top reasons given for changing employers were mental health, lack of promotion or raises and lack of work-life balance.

Are employers out of touch?

The Microsoft Index suggests that the movement witnessed in organisations throughout the last year is largely driven by the younger demographic. More than half (53pc) of Gen Z and one-third (33pc) of millennial respondents moved jobs last year, with more than 50pc of this cohort saying they are considering a move in the next 12 months. 

Irish workers are open to AI, with more than two-thirds willing to accept training in AI tools and more than one-third believing that AI skills are critical to stay competitive in the jobs market. AI interest is being driven by younger workers with almost half of under 35s saying they use AI in their roles. Despite this interest from employees, adoption rates by workplaces are significantly lower in Ireland at 29pc than the global average of 75pc.

Ireland has been particularly vocal about the importance of regulating AI activity, for example, the recent halt to Meta’s AI training plans in response to concerns from the Irish Data Protection Commission. However, the survey suggests that by inadvertently compelling employees to bring their own AI tech into the workplace, these tools may not be “aligned to company policy with privacy, security and data protection controls built in”. 

For Microsoft Ireland chief operating officer Ronan Geraghty, AI is the most transformative technology of our time, with the potential to reduce heavy organisational workloads and enable employees to prioritise high-value, satisfying tasks. 

He believes the failure to embrace AI could result in a missed opportunity to re-engage with and invigorate “a workforce that is currently grappling with a sense of greener pastures elsewhere”. 

How can employers retain staff?

The survey also shone a light on the challenges people in the workforce are dealing with, explaining that internal issues, such as limited promotional opportunities, poor work-life balance and struggles with wellbeing and mental health are largely responsible for an employee’s decision to change organisations.

In light of this, employers may have to work harder to address the issues within their own companies. As the survey indicates, employees are becoming more aware of the alternatives to their current roles. 

In Ireland, nearly half of workers are considering alternate forms of revenue, via side projects and other businesses, meaning employers have a tough job on their hands to retain staff. 

The report also identified a growing sense of isolation among remote and hybrid respondents, with 86pc of Gen Zs and millennials finding aspects of hybrid working to be challenging. 

According to Geraghty, in the last three years, workers have been expressing how overwhelmed they are due to poor work-life balance and the disconnect created by hybrid-working models. 

“This draws a parallel with the increasingly transient nature of our workforce and now an emerging trend of many seeking additional ways of earning income. For employers, there is a need to create a more flexible, inspiring and compelling employee experience to avoid such retention issues and directly address the concerns that are most impacting workers.”

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Laura Varley
By Laura Varley

Laura Varley is a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic. She has a background in technology PR and journalism and is borderline obsessed with film and television, the theatre, Marvel and Mayo GAA. She is currently trying to learn how to knit.

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