Impact on company headcount from using AI to increase employee autonomy - ON-095

Preferred Disciplines: Either/or: Computational Organization Theory, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Psychology, Organizational Analysis, Organizational Design, Economics, Engineering-economic systems. Master, PhD, Post-Doc.
Company: NA
Project Length: 4 to 6 months
Desired start date: As soon as possible
Location: Waterloo, Ontario
No. of Positions: 1
Preferences: North American Universities.

About the Company: 

We’re building a platform to accelerate employee performance, and to lay the foundation for the post-manager workplace. Using recent advancements in ML and NLP, we’re helping employees develop their self-management capabilities to grow an autonomous and self-directed workforce.

Project Description:

We seek to determine whether those companies that use AI to increase employee autonomy see a resulting change in number of jobs available.

Research Objectives:

To investigate 6 different companies from 2 different verticals in target market.

To identify whether productivity gains (ie. time/focus, profitability, sales/revenue, quality of outputs, employee retention, customer retention) from a more autonomous/self-managing workforce result in an increase in company headcount, or a planned increase in headcount.

To identify whether companies repurpose talent that comes available from a reduced/changed workload (ie. Managers).

  • In what ways do leaders repurpose or envision repurposing talent that comes available.
  • What tools/systems/resources do companies/leaders have in place to effectively repurpose existing talent.
  • If no tools, what are the needs of an organization seeking to repurpose talent.

To identify any impact on employee culture and morale if changes to organizational makeup exist and then become evident (ie. new job creation, terminations, reporting changes, fewer jobs available, role changes, role-responsibility changes).


Qualitative study with simulation exercise, coupled with criterion sampling, where sample is composed of professionals currently employed at companies belonging to a target market. 

Interviews, Focus Groups, Observations. We believe that holistic results can be achieved by employing a combination of these three methods.

  • Individual Interviews (structured and unstructured to capture nuance missed by using a single approach) to establish norms and determine changes in perception of job function/role, engagement, expenditure of time, goal attainment, etc. from three job-level groups: Executive, Manager, Employee.
  • Focus Groups to facilitate discussion about observed phenomena, and to identify norms and changes in group dynamic, from three functional groups: Human Resources/Talent Management Professionals, Enablement Professionals, Mixed Professionals.
  • Observations of employees performing day-to-day functions to gain rich picture of norms, fluctuations, workplace culture.

Expertise and Skills Needed:

    • Ability to run a simulation exercise (proxy for our technology) with participants
    • Verbal communication
    • Empathy for research participants
    • Respectful of privacy, confidentiality, consent of participant companies & individuals
    • Interest in intersection of ML/AI technologies, organizational behaviour, employee performance, company operations, productivity tools


    For more info or to apply to this applied research position, please

    1. Check your eligibility and find more information about open projects.

    2. Complete this webform. You will be asked to upload your CV. Remember to indicate the title of the project(s) you are interested in and obtain your professor’s approval to proceed!

    3. Interested students need to get the approval from their supervisor and send their CV along with a link to their supervisor’s university webpage by applying through the webform.