7 Ways the Most Human Workplaces Will Thrive in the Age of AI

October 4, 2023 Maddie Grant

The dawn of artificial intelligence (AI) has often been portrayed in stark, dystopian terms: machines overtaking human jobs, algorithms making critical decisions, and a future where human input seems redundant. However, this narrative overlooks the profound beauty and opportunity of being human in this Aquarian age of technological advancement. Far from making us obsolete, I believe AI can serve as a foil, highlighting our uniquely human qualities and amplifying our capabilities, especially in the workplace. Here are seven ways that the most human-centric organizations will not only survive but thrive in the age of AI.

1. Creativity Over Code

While AI can analyze data at speeds incomprehensible to us, it lacks the creativity to ideate, innovate, and solve problems in new ways. The workplaces that foster human creativity will always have a competitive edge. In an era where AI can create art or compose music based on algorithms, the raw, emotional creativity that humans bring becomes even more invaluable.

2. Emotional Intelligence

Another area where humans outshine machines is emotional intelligence (EI). The ability to read a room, understand complex emotional states, and navigate the nuances of human interaction (see our Manifesto for a longer list of these human skills when it comes to rethinking management – a topic for a future post!) is far beyond the grasp of current AI. Workplaces that prioritize EI are not only more harmonious but also more effective, as they can better meet the emotional and psychological needs of their staff and clients.

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3. The Power of Collaboration

While AI can simulate conversations and even assist in project management, it can’t replace the magic that occurs when human beings collaborate. We’ve all experienced moments of “synergy,” where the collective output of a team is far greater than the sum of its parts. These are moments that can’t be algorithmically generated; they require the complex AND DIVERSE interplay of human skills, talents, and perspectives.

4. Ethical and Moral Decision-Making

AI operates on data and algorithms, devoid of ethical considerations. Humans, however, are moral agents capable of making decisions based not only on data but also on complex ethical considerations. As we move towards automating more functions, the role of human beings in ethical decision-making becomes more crucial than ever. A responsible workplace will always need humans to guide it.

5. Lifelong Learning and Adaptability

AI can learn from data, but it can’t “unlearn” and adapt in the way humans can. Our ability to change our minds, adapt to new circumstances, and grow intellectually and emotionally over time is a distinctly human trait. Workplaces that promote a culture of lifelong learning will be better positioned to adapt to the ever-changing landscape, with or without AI.

6. The Human Touch in Customer Service

Many of us have had the experience of being stuck in a frustrating loop with an automated customer service system. While AI can handle basic queries efficiently, it often falters when faced with complex, nuanced issues. The human touch—our ability to empathize, offer immediate solutions, or even just lend a sympathetic ear—cannot be replicated by a machine.

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7. Meaning and Purpose

Lastly, the most human workplaces understand that their employees are not cogs in a machine but individuals in search of meaning and purpose. While AI can optimize workflows and enhance productivity, it can’t instill a sense of mission. Workplaces that can articulate and embody a purpose greater than profit will attract and retain talent in a way that no AI-powered perks ever could.

Why this matters

AI has often been framed as the adversary of humanity, but it’s time to shift that narrative. In the age of AI, the most human aspects of our existence become not only more evident but also more essential. By focusing on what makes us uniquely human—creativity, emotional intelligence, collaboration, ethical decision-making, adaptability, personalized customer service, and a quest for meaning—workplaces can not only survive the age of AI but seize it as an unprecedented opportunity to thrive.

So, let’s not fear the rise of the machines. Instead, let’s embrace the technology as a tool that, wielded wisely, can make us more human than ever.


Photo by Dewang Gupta on Unsplash

Maddie Grant

Maddie Grant, CAE, is an expert culture designer and digital strategist who focuses on helping organizations unlock the power in their culture and navigate culture change. She has specific expertise in digital transformation and generational differences in the workplace. She has explored the language of workplace culture for several years through her books, co-authored with her partner in business and life Jamie Notter, including Humanize: How People-Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World (2011), the Amazon category best-seller When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business (2015), the Non-Obvious Guide to Employee Engagement (2019), and Culture Change Made Easy, coming out in Fall 2023.