HR needs to get comfortable with ChatGPT, not be intimidated by it

HRD sits down with renowned industry expert Josh Bersin to debate how generative AI is a gamechanger for employers

HR needs to get comfortable with ChatGPT, not be intimidated by it

As HR leaders are well aware, it’s crucial to stay ahead of the latest trends that shape the industry. One of the most significant trends in recent times is the emergence of generative AI. HRD spoke with Josh Bersin, renowned global industry analyst and CEO of The Josh Bersin Company, to glean what ChatGPT means for organizations and their leaders in 2023 and beyond.  

 “Well, it's obviously a phenomenon, and we're all learning how to use it,” Bersin says. “I think it has three or four major implications for HR.” 

Firstly, technologies such as ChatGPT have become an enormous help in accessing information at the click of a finger. HR practitioners often require assistance in designing programs, selecting vendors and developing training initiatives – but with generative AI, professionals can easily retrieve information by scanning through thousands of research pages in mere seconds.  

“We’re actually introducing our own co-pilot for all of our research,” says Bersin. “Which is sort of the same idea - where you can go in and scan thousands and thousands of pages of research to get that information.” 

Secondly, issues such as training, recruiting, employee communications, speech writing, and benefits administration rely heavily on effective information dissemination – sending out messaging in a way that teams understand it. ChatGPT can be HR’s ally here.   

 “This is a great writing tool,” Bersin tells HRD. “It's a great way to summarize information that's complex and make it easier to communicate. If you're a recruiter, for example, and you're sending communication to candidates, you can use ChatGPT for that. There are tools coming out that will make that really easy to do, so you don't have to start from scratch.” 

Game-changer for recruitment processes  

In that vein, tools are being developed to facilitate the process of writing job descriptions, onboarding materials, compliance documentation, and much more. Tech such as ChatGPT can condense voluminous information into concise narratives, making it ideal for training purposes and easing the workload of instructional designers.  

“Large volumes of process designs, process standards, compliance rules, sometimes regulatory rules - no one ever reads that stuff,” Bersin says. “If you want to turn that into training, it's a lot of work. With ChatGPT, you can summarize it in just a few minutes and shape that information into the form of a narrative - something to read or listen to. That's a huge value add - instructional designers are going to find their work is way easier.”  

However, when asked about the potential risks associated with ChatGPT technology, Bersin acknowledges the possibility of employees stumbling upon incorrect information online.  

“Employees need to be made aware of the limitations of it - the public versions of the tech,” says Bersin. “But a lot of this is going to come in-house. You're going to be doing this inside your companies, meaning you have much more control over the content.” 

This is where ChatGPT guidelines come in useful. According to data from Gartner, as reported by Bloomberg, 48 per cent of HR leaders are in the process of finalizing their guidance on ChatGPT. What’s more, just three per cent of HR leaders have issued a ban on using AI chatbots for business purposes. But, for employers opting not to explore the new tech on offer, they could risk being left behind.  

“Generally speaking,” says Bersin, “it’s a magnificent toolset for a whole bunch of things in HR.” 

Using chatbots to ease HR’s workload  

Delving into the day-to-day uses of generative AI for HR departments, Bersin highlights several areas of note. Recruiting, training, content development, communications, compliance documentation, regulatory rule interpretation, process documentation, onboarding, and employee support – to name but a few. For instance, HR departments can create chatbots to address employee queries and provide support on various topics.   

“Take all that documentation, put it in a chatbot and let people ask questions,” says Bersin. “They'll get the answers directly. That's what we've done with our research and it works exceedingly well.” 

Process documentation, such as guidelines for using HR systems, changing benefits, or applying for leave, can be compiled into these bots, allowing employees to be served instantaneously. These technologies can prove invaluable for creators, especially instructional designers.

“If you're a creator, if you're if you're an instructional designer, or an author or building a documentation or creating a PowerPoints - these tools are going to be great for that too,” adds Bersin.  

“Everybody in HR needs to be comfortable with this stuff and not intimidated about using it.” 

 Interview by Chris Davis.

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