Leveraging AI as an HR professional

Written by Janki Devalia, Senior Consultant

The last couple of years have seen a seismic shift in the world of work as we know it. The advancements in technology and artificial intelligence (AI) are touching all industries and sectors, with HR being no exception. The question now being posed is, how do we benefit from the efficiencies AI in HR can provide, whilst exercising appropriate caution in ensuring legal and ethical guidelines are adhered to?

The answer isn’t simple, and sure enough will not be answered in its entirety in this blog. However, as we continue to have these discussions and experiment, we will become more refined and efficient in our use of AI in HR. As we do this, it is important we work with the technology not against it and to do this, we need to be clear on how to leverage both human and AI’s strengths.

How AI can be used in HR

AI is generally faster, more precise, and more capable of retaining and synthesising data than human beings. Whereas we have the potential to hold invaluable and future-focused skills such as creativity, emotional intelligence, and critical thinking. Using this logic, AI can be used to help automate routine tasks, leaving human beings with more room to tap into our creativity and complete more complex tasks that cannot yet be completed by AI. It is also important to consider how AI sees itself, and what better way to understand this than to ask it directly. When posed with the prompt of “How AI can be used in HR,” ChatGPT provided a long list of suggestions, including the below:

  • Generating job descriptions
  • Create interactive onboard materials
  • Act as a virtual assistant for quick HR-related answers
  • Conduct employee surveys and gather anonymous feedback
  • Clarifying HR policies and procedures
  • Generate insights and trends based on HR data
  • Support data-driven decision making

It’s important to note that the above list is how ChatGPT sees itself as being woven into HR processes – not what experts in the HR field would necessarily recommend. Whilst these are all opportunities for us to enhance the way we operate as HR professionals, to get the most benefit from them as human beings we need to understand how best to instruct and prompt the technology while also exercising our critical thinking to extract the most value from it.

There is also some discussion among HR professionals about whether the technology is competing for our jobs. During a recent conference presentation, we were asked how AI can be used in HR whilst still preserving jobs or work tasks that people enjoy. Essentially, how and where do we build the guardrails to protect the human experience as technology develops at pace?

AI and HR: How can they work together?

To answer this question, we need to recognise the key priorities and touch points of AI in HR. Using this, we can understand what needs to happen for us to work effectively with the technology to enhance our impact as HR professionals. Drawing on research and our recent conversations with professionals in this area, we have identified some key considerations in setting up the guardrails to protect the assessment and human experience as technology develops rapidly:

  1. Facilitate training – For us to work effectively with this technology, we need to ensure that we are trained in managing systems to add to the human experience within the HR space. Consider hosting additional training for HR professionals in key skills such as emotional intelligence, critical thinking, and managing bias which may be useful to counterbalance the limitations AI holds in its prevalence.
  2. Address questions – When using AI in HR practices, we may find that the technology has sifted out end-user questions or comments. As professionals in this area, we need to ensure there are mechanisms in place to respond to all queries, thereby enhancing the human experience.
  3. Provide supplier transparency – As we experience the exponential growth of AI in HR, there will no doubt be new and existing suppliers that come to the market with their technologies. To ensure we are acting in accordance with our ethics and values, it is important for suppliers to shed light on the ‘black box’ algorithms helping to make decisions.
  4. Establishing key decision makers – As the lines between AI and human involvement in a HR process become blurred, it is key to outline who is ultimately responsible for the final decision. Following this, where does the responsibility lie in providing insights and feedback on final conclusions?
  5. Focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) – The algorithms sitting behind AI may lead to largely homogenous spaces, with the data that it draws on being subject to biases. As an industry, we have made leaps of progress in the DEI space, and we need to ensure this remains a priority as the use of AI increases.
  6. Take a holistic approach – Ultimately, whilst we may use technology to help in some areas of HR, it is important not to ignore that we are working with a human being who is complex and has preferences, interests, and performance potential that is important to look at holistically before making any key decisions.

As you have read this article, and no doubt many others about AI in HR, you may have come to a similar conclusion as us, in that it is worth thinking of generative AI as a co-worker. An impressionable co-worker. One that can assist in alleviating cognitive load for routine tasks but also one that requires human oversight. Whilst we need to exercise caution in the extent to which we lean on the technology, it is an exciting opportunity to follow how the landscape of AI in the HR space will undoubtedly evolve in the coming months and years.

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