Learning & Development, Recruiting, Technology

How Artificial Intelligence Tools Will Evolve How We Think About Talent

Since the introduction of ChatGPT, the online artificial intelligence (AI) tool has created a firestorm of discussion and opinions around how generative AI technology will transform society, the workplace, and how you interact with information. Some corporate leaders, like Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, see these tools as the harbinger of a new golden age in which AI helps us bring people closer together. Others have prophesied they will help us solve currently unsolvable problems like curing long-standing diseases or help society to become multi-planetary. Others see them as a potential threat to humankind whereby we become so reliant on the technology that we jeopardize our own freedom or autonomy. With all these wide-ranging thoughts circling the Internet, it’s hard to understand how you should think about these tools. As HR professionals, ChatGPT requires additional focus on what it means for your role and for your company. 

First, What Actually is Generative AI?

First, it’s probably important to clarify what generative AI like ChatGPT is and how it works. These tools are really machine learning tools, trained as “language machines” to talk and respond like humans, and are trained off of a huge set of data from the Internet: facts, research studies, statistics, opinion columns, cooking recipes, blog posts, etc. They have been trained basically off of everything we have put on the Internet. (GPT 3, which is what ChatGPT uses, was trained on 45 terabytes of text on the Internet.) So these tools aren’t really intelligent per se―ChatGPT doesn’t comprehend what it is saying back to you―but it’s a much smarter and more human-like way of providing you information. Think of it this way: Rather than sending you a bunch of links for you to search and find an answer, like Google, ChatGPT does all that research for you and returns a combined response to your query and writes it in a way that sounds human. Other generative AI tools work similarly but not for text. Dall-E 2 and Stable Diffusion 2 create images based off text prompts, while Looka creates business logos off key words you choose and Sounddraw creates music based on directions you provide it. These tools aren’t perfect, but like ChatGPT and incoming rivals, they will continue to get better over time.

So What Does This Mean for Me and My Company?

Here are a few key implications that will emerge soon as generative AI continues to pick up steam:

  1. Chat GPT won’t take people’s jobs, but it will change them. ChatGPT and other generative AI tools, once properly trained, can take over many of the transactional duties humans need to do today, like customer service agents answering questions, QA engineers testing and fixing computer code, and even editors reviewing articles. These roles won’t go away, but they will change to focus on more value-added tasks and will be asked to help train chatbots or become skilled at using them to properly complete some of these transactional tasks, review them for accuracy, and adjust for company-specific needs that a more generic tool would miss. HR operations teams looking to respond to employee requests can use tools like this, as well, to more efficiently respond to employee questions.
  1. HR leaders will need to broaden their skill sets to think about people and AI when designing organizations. HR leaders will be expected to understand the capabilities of these tools and help consider from a strategic perspective where and how AI talent can be deployed and where human skills and capabilities should be focused. They will also need to develop general guidelines and policies around the use of AI, which will require working closely with their counterparts in legal around governance and IP protection, IT around how to effectively train these tools (including what they should and should not say), and with each functional leader as they look into the job-specific implications. This work is already underway. A study by IBM in May 2022 estimated 35% of companies used AI to serve their organizations, and 44% were working to “embed AI into current applications and processes.” Gartner predicts that by 2025, the market for AI software will be more than $130 billion as enterprises look for solutions. As companies continue to push for efficiency, proactive HR leaders will be trying to understand the capabilities and opportunities for their organizations, as well.
  1. Recruiting can be transformed. Similar to how LinkedIn transformed the ability to source talent  (there are now an estimated 875 million people on LinkedIn recruiters can discover and connect with), generative AI can further transform how companies find and select talent. For example, tools like Olivia from Paradox will actually screen candidates and help answer their questions about your open roles. (It will also schedule and onboard talent for you.) These types of tools can be specifically trained for a particular role to be quite effective, e.g., for a restaurant server or for a hospital charge nurse. Additionally, tools like ChatGPT can help write job descriptions and interview guides for hiring managers, giving recruiters and hiring teams more time to focus on prepping interviewers, spend more time with candidates who pass screening processes, and determine how they will integrate their new team members. And back to LinkedIn: As AI tools become more effective, consider what a LinkedIn AI tool could do to help you proactively find candidates based on your job description and needs, then suggest candidates. That’s an exciting future.

  2. Helping managers be more effective and helping employees be at their best. Generative AI conversation tools can help coach managers on the right way to approach a performance conversation, provide ideas around the next steps for people to grow in their career, or even help managers assess where they still need to develop to be more effective in their roles. HR teams can also use generative AI to help create competency guides to enhance performance management tools and career guides to help provide more detailed career advancement discussions and calibrations. 

    Employees may one day be able to use these types of tools to help them work through stress, anxiety, family issues, and more. Virtual counseling services using AI are already being tested.  Benefits teams are always looking for a host of tools for health benefits, mental health, and more, and AI will increasingly find its way into those areas and help enhance ways employees can access these important services.

  3. Make workplaces more transparent, open, and fair. As tools like ChatGPT continue to proliferate and gather the content of the Internet, they will get smarter and more accurate.   Traditionally closely held areas like compensation ranges and promotion criteria will be more readily available for employees and companies. Imagine a generative AI research tool that can find all the posted salary ranges (especially as that trend becomes more prevalent) for any given role and provide that information to companies, candidates, and employees. It will help companies respond more quickly to the market and ensure candidates and employees have access to the right information to properly value their roles and responsibilities and negotiate for what they feel is fair. It will also help those from varying socioeconomic backgrounds, as anyone with an Internet connection will have access to some very powerful tools, which, over time, can help address equity and representation in the workplace.

As mentioned before, these tools aren’t perfect. ChatGPT has already been shown to provide the wrong response or respond erratically if prompted multiple times with a request that is outside its regularly trained subject areas. And previous AI chatbots were shown to be particularly subject to bias and could be turned toward negative stereotypes if not properly engineered or trained. Also, the image generation and music generation tools I referenced earlier need to be validated to ensure they don’t violate intellectual property rights. HR teams and leaders should therefore partner with their legal and IT counterparts to properly think through how these should be used in the workplace. 

This will remain a dynamic and growing area for years to come, and the best HR teams will proactively think through their uses, the risks, and the opportunities to help differentiate their organization in the exciting future ahead.

Jesse Meschuk is a career and HR expert, as well as a Senior Advisor with Exequity. Meschuk has more than 20 years of consulting and HR experience and has worked across a wide variety of industries, including technology, entertainment, gaming, retail, hospitality, and sports. His work has spanned the Americas, Europe, and Asia.

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