Already, generative AI is rapidly transforming work and life. But one thing it can’t do? Be human. That’s why, even with technology advancing and dominating business conversations, it’s the soft skills—or “power skills,” as Erica Keswin calls them—that are becoming more and more critical for leaders to develop in themselves and nurture in their teams.

Keswin is a bestselling author and workplace strategist who’s worked with some of the world’s most influential brands over the past 25 years. In this episode, she talks about the need for increased humanity in the workplace; not in spite of generative AI but because of it. She also talks about her latest book, The Retention Revolution, which casts a modern light on how leaders should think about employee retention.

Keswin is the latest guest on Microsoft’s WorkLab podcast, in which host Molly Wood has conversations with economists, technologists, and researchers who explore the data and insights about the work trends you need to know today—from how to use AI effectively to what it takes to thrive in our new world of work.

Three big takeaways from the conversation:

  1. During the pandemic, Keswin says that many leaders were more human, and that increase in humanity led to higher employee engagement and job satisfaction. Now as generative AI changes how we work again, leaders have the same opportunity to practice vulnerability and empathy. “From where I sit, generative AI, in addition to being a great technology, is making human skills more important,” she says.

  2. Not every company with a structured flexible working model has the resources to fly their people to one place for gatherings, but Keswin urges business leaders to do their best. “Unless somebody organizes it and figures out the format and logistics, it won’t happen,” she says. “And we cannot leave connection to chance.”

  3. The younger generations view their careers as a portfolio, not a ladder to climb up. If leaders understand that people will likely not be at their company for a lifetime, they can be more intentional with onboarding, offboarding, and helping that person grow on the job—up, sideways, even down. “We need to think about internal mobility. How do we move someone across? Or even down or out? Sometimes the best new role for somebody might be outside of your organization,” Keswin says.

WorkLab is a place for experts to share their insights and opinions. As students of the future of work, Microsoft values inputs from a diverse set of voices. That said, the opinions and findings of the experts we interview are their own and do not reflect Microsoft’s own research or opinions.

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Here’s a transcript of the episode 7 conversation.

MOLLY WOOD: This is WorkLab, the podcast from Microsoft. I’m your host, Molly Wood. On WorkLab, we hear from experts about the future of work, from how to use AI effectively to what it takes to thrive in our new world of work. 

ERICA KESWIN: People of all levels and all roles want to feel connected to the purpose and mission of what you do. So my hope is that as generative AI takes over, and all tech takes over certain aspects of a leader’s job, that leader can have more time to connect with his or her employees as humans.