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Generative AI for HR pros: What it can – and can’t – do

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It seems that no matter where you turn lately, there’s talk of ChatGPT replacing jobs, changing industries and revolutionizing the way we work. 

Generative AI like ChatGPT, although in its early stages, is already being used to automate tasks and perform other technical duties, such as finding information, generating writing from prompts and answering questions. In fact, almost half of firms are already drafting ChatGPT policies.

Despite the admiration generative AI is receiving, it can also bring about fears for employees about AI replacing their job or rendering their career field obsolete. In the HR space, you’ve probably heard that ChatGPT could take over many of the day-to-day HR tasks and usher in a new era of HR. 

But there are still many tasks in the HR space that generative AI can’t replicate. Here’s what you need to know about what generative AI can – and can’t – do for your HR department. 

What a generative AI future might look like

Depending on who you talk to, generative AI is either way overhyped or an earth-shattering new technology that will change the world. The truth is probably somewhere in between that, though. 

Generative AI, defined as a type of artificial intelligence technology that can produce various types of content including text, imagery, audio and synthetic data, has many uses for HR, from payroll to recruiting. But overall, it could be used to help make HR more about humans and less about resources. 

“HR pros will have more time to dedicate to individual employees and their unique, timely needs while AI takes care of the transactional side of the function,” says JD Dillon, chief learning officer, Axonify. 

AI-powered tools can do a range of tasks, such as:

  • Helping people find information quickly
  • Answering standard questions
  • Assigning employees the right training, and 
  • Analyzing large amounts of data.

AI could help HR make a real impact on essential workplace factors like engagement and communication. “AI allows HR to go beyond the annual engagement survey and traditional communication methods to foster improved connections across the company,” says Dillon. “Now, HR pros can leverage a variety of inputs to assess the current state of the workplace and take proactive actions to improve the everyday experience.”

But that doesn’t mean that generative AI could replace all HR duties. There are many things that HR pros bring to a business that ChatGPT simply can’t replace. “[Generative AI is] unable to understand nuance or express empathy, understanding and discretion,” explains Dillon. “A human touch will continue to be essential for helping people work through challenges such as mental health struggles, performance issues and interpersonal conflict.”

Considerations for implementing AI at work

Whether or not generative AI is right for your business depends on many factors such as company size, budget, industry and more. 

There are some considerations you have to factor into the decision to implement this technology, such as the risks that AI brings. “Getting fed made-up details about a television show is one thing. Being pushed inaccurate information about a work product or process is another,” says Dillon. “The stakes are much higher, so companies must be careful when they select and implement AI-powered tools.” 

Plus, extra considerations are at play when using AI for tasks such as recruiting or promoting, as the technology has inherent inaccuracies and biases. “This is why we can’t rely solely on technology to make decisions for us. Instead, we must use their output as yet another input into how we manage our operations,” says Dillon. 

If your company decides to implement generative AI into your workplace, it’s important to ensure that your employees have the knowledge and skills to effectively use these technologies and take full advantage of them.

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