ChatGPT only debuted in November 2022, yet it has already proliferated many businesses, promising numerous possibilities, says Toby Hough.
However, since its debut people have been both excited and worried about the impact it is going to have in the workplace.
In the current economic climate AI is appealing to many businesses as a tool for shrinking budgets and downsizing, so the main question on everyone’s mind is will I be replaced by AI?
For HR professionals, AI is a huge disruptor that will require careful navigation. In terms of people management, in just a few months almost every aspect of HR has been touched by AI from L&D and training to culture and DEI&B.
While HR must grapple with how AI will impact their own roles and work process, in addition it has to alleviate employee’s fears of being replaced, as organisations adopt the technology.
Generative AI’s initial impact on the workplace
Research has revealed that one in four companies have already replaced workers with ChatGPT. A shocking figure, which understandably, makes many employees feel insecure. However, just because some companies may be replacing people with AI, doesn’t mean companies should. Yes, it can be beneficial to incorporate AI and automation tools into the workplace, however, in my opinion, AI should be used as an efficiency tool to free up employees to focus on more valuable business actions – for example building relationships, thinking creatively and strategic development.
With huge employee implications, it’s HR’s responsibility to help companies integrate AI smoothly into existing ways of working that can boost efficiency and optimise processes – giving employees the time for ‘intelligent’ work which will help business differentiate themselves and thrive.
Incorporating AI into HR practices
Despite the splash that ChatGPT has made, AI isn’t new. It’s been a fundamental part of HR automation tech for several years. There are numerous processes and outcomes that automated HR tech can help with such as benchmarking salaries, onboarding employees, workforce planning, budgeting and more. It’s made HR teams faster and more effective, so they can focus on the softer, people side of HR, for example, mitigating employees fears around AI.
As AI continues to develop, its benefits will only increase if it is implemented correctly. The question is, how can we smoothly integrate these developments into day-to-day working?
AI and human collaboration
While employee’s may be worried about their future, they shouldn’t be. People will always be essential in business. After all, customers are human, partners are human and so is the rest of the workforce. People value and rely on genuine human connection.
AI will change the way we work. But I firmly believe that the future of the workplace is a collaboration between AI and human intelligence. Therefore, employees must learn how to work alongside AI to continue to thrive at work.
HR teams need to ensure employees are educated on the use-cases of AI. If an employee doesn’t know that AI can enhance their working day, it is a lose, lose situation. Investing in AI training and development will show employees how to optimise processes, improve efficiency and outcomes, and keep up with the demands of the current, and future, working world, while actually doing less administrative work. Knowledge is power!
As well as AI’s benefits, employees also need to be aware of its downfalls. At present, AI cannot promise to deliver factually correct information, therefore, the human touch is crucial. In addition, anti-AI law and legislation is on the way. Employees need to keep ahead of upcoming regulations to ensure the business is compliant.
A new era is dawning
Undoubtedly, AI is changing the very fundamentals of the world of work forever. HR professionals need to ensure they think about the implementation and operation of AI, including the resulting workplace conditions and circumstances. But for those that work to get it right, AI can offload pressure on people by cutting into the administrative burden, and allowing HR to focus on tasks that are strategic and revolve around helping an organisations people.
AI is a tool that employees need to embrace as it is only going to grow in prominence. Therefore, it’s vital that professionals learn how to incorporate it into their daily workflow in the most efficient way possible. At the end of the day, AI is there to help offload the burden of repetitive and mundane tasks but should not be replacing the creativity and innovation that people’s minds bring. AI and human collaboration should be the ultimate goal for all businesses who want to continue to thrive in the future.
Toby Hough is the People & Culture Director at HiBob.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.