When two employees quit their jobs at Flycast Media within the past six months, it left the U.K.-based digital marketing agency in a tight spot. The former employees were both writers dedicated solely to posting on social media, and the agency wasn’t able to replace them quickly, both due to budget constraints and not finding the right candidate.
But rather than resort to the age-old method of making the team absorb their workloads, its leadership team decided to use artificial intelligence tools to write and post social media copy.
“We have had to rely heavily on AI tools to catch up with writing tweets and other social media posts,” said Shane McEvoy, SEO specialist and managing director at Flycast Media. “When a significant portion of a team is let go, it’s only natural to consider alternative solutions to fill the gaps and maintain productivity.”
AI could help plug talent shortages in light of resignations — or layoffs.
Most (90%) managers already believe that AI tools will grow in popularity as layoffs continue during uncertain economic times, according to Beautiful.ai’s latest report, The Future of AI in the Workplace: A Survey of American Managers.
“Teams are getting smaller in a lot of industries, and it doesn’t mean that the work’s not getting done,” said Sam Radbil, a research strategist at Beautiful.ai. “People have to work longer hours, smaller teams, and it leans into the great opportunity of what AI can do. It’s a lot of opportunity to try products that you might not have tried or wanted to pursue before smaller teams became more popular. It’s enhancing work and efficiency while teams shrink.”
There are a number of AI tools aside from ChatGPT that are becoming more mainstream. That includes Beautiful.ai, an AI company that generates presentation slides off of short prompts, Canva’s Magic Write, which creates a first draft, and OtterPilot, which takes meeting notes.
A surprisingly high 66% of the 3,000 managers surveyed in the Beautiful.ai report, said they would gladly replace employees with AI tools if the work was comparable. “The economic uncertainty we’re all facing right now, from me to you to CEOs to CFOs to anybody, things are crazy,” said Radbil. “People are uncertain about the finances, people are seeing the layoffs. The 66% stat is the narrative of the economy. If the work was exactly comparable, it would be great to save money and be awesome for the bottom line.”
However, the work isn’t usually comparable to humans. That’s why McEvoy says that while AI has helped the agency avoid having to halt posting regularly to social platforms and not put additional burden on the remaining team, it’s a short-term fix while the company looks for human replacements. Currently, the extra work falls to McEvoy, and he said using ChatGPT saves him at least 10 hours a week of work.
“I’m weary of using it as a replacement for the long term,” said McEvoy. “The human touch needs to come into it.”
Haris Butt, ClickUp’s head of product design, said AI will allow the workforce to redefine and amplify human capabilities. “While much of the conversation is around the jobs that might be replaced, the more impactful thing for organizations to explore is how to restructure their organizations to be more impactful with the help of this technology,” said Butt.
It could mean hiring folks who can help set a social media strategy instead of just preparing copy for social channels.
“When people get back to scaling up and teams continue to grow or get back to where they were, people will find that AI is really a great enhancement and accommodation to those employees,” said Radbil. “But, we do want humans in their chairs at their desks, because ultimately the human aspect of work is very important.”
Jenna Bayuk, founder of business consultancy Kinship Kollective, agrees. Several of her clients laid off staffers in this year and the past year, but they all still see the importance of employing people instead of relying on AI.
“There will always be a natural human desire to connect with people, no matter how efficient platforms are. People will always want that,” said Bayuk.