“Big Four” accounting firm looks to AI to curb future mass layoffs

Why it matters: Deloitte is a multinational professional services network and is considered one of the “Big Four” accounting companies in the world, along with EY, KPMG, and PwC. The consulting giant employs hundreds of thousands of people, which is becoming an issue needing some AI-based magic to avoid future mass layoffs.

In 2023 alone, Deloitte hired an additional 130,000 staffers. Now that the demand for professional services is slowing down, the UK-based corporation is trying new technology solutions to find a place within the company for hundreds of those newly acquired employees rather than resorting to layoffs.

Deloitte wants to use AI algorithms to evaluate the skills of its existing staff, creating plans to effectively shift employees from unproductive parts of the business to more productive roles. Other consulting companies have already begun experimenting with AI-based placement to eliminate repetitive, time-consuming tasks like prepping documentation for internal meetings or gathering data for a client pitch.

Generative AI programs are very good at making sentences or even extensive essays when responding to user prompts. Deloitte bets that machine learning algorithms are also suitable for skill evaluation and human resource management, an area where the colossal corporation currently has issues.

During this year’s hiring spree, Deloitte began informing thousands of US and UK-based employees that their jobs could soon become “redundant.” Deloitte global chief talent officer Stevan Rolls said avoiding large swings of hirings and layoffs should be the ideal target for a consulting firm. Rolls remarked that artificial intelligence could help Deloitte become more “efficient and effective” in finding the right people for the right job.

Deloitte’s current headcount is nearing 460,000. The company hires 3x more people than a decade ago, while revenue has only doubled. Rolls said that if Deloitte can keep a successful business going by doubling its size again, it would need to hire a quarter million people yearly.

If AI experimentation with staff management is successful, the consulting giant could still aim to double revenue while counting on a less fluid and shifting headcount. Rolls said it might not be fewer, but it might be the same as they hire now.

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