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The archetypes of workers in the GenAI era

July 9, 2024

A new generation whose co-pilot is generative artificial intelligence is already changing the way people work and view their professional experience. A new McKinsey survey shows that talents feel they need cognitive and socio-emotional skills more than technological skills (as many operational functions can be facilitated by machines). 

What’s more, for these people, flexibility, meaning and relationships take precedence over salary in the ranking of the main motivations for staying with a company. The new research surveyed 12,802 workers from 16 industries and identified four archetypes and needs of the workforce in the GenAI era. These, if well addressed, can pave the way towards the desired growth in productivity:


These employees help build the gen AI models for their organizations and develop the tools and interfaces most of us use to interact with these models. Creators (2% of employees surveyed) tend to be predominantly software engineers, programmers, and machine learning scientists who develop the tools and interfaces most of us use to interact with gen AI.

Heavy users

These employees use gen AI to help them perform most of their core tasks or to enhance their work functions. Heavy users (8%) include a wide range of workers, from designers who use gen AI to expedite 3D modeling to data scientists who use gen AI to verify the accuracy of their coding language semantics.

Light users

Workers in this category use gen AI to perform less than 50% of their primary tasks. Representing about 18% of the sample, they include middle managers, educators, and communications professionals. For example, a manager might use gen AI to create meeting notes or to help delegate tasks, while a teacher may use it to innovate classroom activities. Journalists and writers researching topics might use gen AI to give them a baseline of facts or to help write a first draft.


These are individuals who are either unaffected by or unaware of the impact of gen AI on their jobs. Examples in the sample include nurse practitioners and healthcare workers engaged in direct patient care, as well as retail associates whose primary role is face-to-face interactions with customers. Although these employees currently represent about 70% of the survey, our expectation is that a majority of nonusers will become light or heavy users as the scope and usage of gen AI changes.

“Our research shows that, in general, all these groups value relational elements in the workplace – such as caring and empathetic leaders and colleagues – and support for health and well-being more than remuneration (although this is still an important variable),” the authors highlight.

Source: McKinsey | Brazil Journal