This is the question that many working in Wellbeing are grappling with right now in relation to AI, with many nervous, understandably, about how it could affect their roles.
However, there’s no doubt that AI is here to stay and the best thing for professionals to do is be curious at this embryonic stage, and embrace the new technology to discover how it can be a valuable support.
Ignoring it and pretending it doesn’t exist is not an option; if you do that, you may well find yourself rendered obsolete.
HR/Wellbeing needs to partner with tech
“Chat GPT (and other tech) can help with wellbeing in the workplace if we partner with the tech,” says Catherine Stagg-Macey, who is a career coach and has recently discussed this topic at length on her career themed leadership podcast Unsaid @ Work.
“If we pretend it’s not going to change the way we work, then that feeds into people’s anxieties about what ‘might happen’. As humans, we are good at focusing on the negative (a survival mechanism). So, our role as business leaders is to help people see how to leverage this new tech.”
What should leaders/managers be doing?
In terms of what leaders/line managers can do at this time when many employees are experimenting with tools like ChatGPT out of their own curiosity, she suggests:
· Help staff make a perspective shift to see the tech as something that could support wellbeing in the workplace
· Provide simple guidance on how to use Chat GPT without putting the company at risk
· Celebrate innovative uses of Chat GPT and best practice within the business
· Be open to input from colleagues about what they think is an important use of the tech
HR is rethinking its role in light of AI
AI is already having a significant effect on HR, with 63% of companies rethinking the entire role of the function because of it, according to research from people management software provider Advanced, with most HR professionals (60%) believing that AI will have a positive impact on how HR operates.
“AI is seen by some as a threat, with its mechanisation of huge numbers of tasks and sometimes entire roles – but it is also an opportunity to rethink the organisation and take ownership for smarter ways of working,” says Alex Arundale, Chief People Officer at Advanced, whose clients include the NHS, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and Virgin Money.
AI can improve the employee experience
As she rightly argues, many HR professionals, and executives in people-centred roles generally, go into their line of work because they want to make a difference and improve the employee experience. But they are often prevented from focusing on this due to overwhelming amounts of admin, bureaucracy and data management.
AI could alleviate some of this pressure and free up more time for strategic, value-adding work and more personal interactions. That said, while it’s a useful tool, to get the most out of it, AI needs to be well managed by the HR professional directing it; ChatGPT excels at streamlining processes but it still needs to be checked for accuracy, nuance and adding a human touch.
AI will replace half of manual processes
Advanced’s research also shows that one in three business leaders think that AI will replace at least half of their manual processes; which is potentially a huge amount of time freed-up.
Arundale cites examples where AI could lessen the load as:
- Automating tasks like ticketing and generating insights
- Objectively reviewing processes like pay reviews ensuring fairness
- Analysing social network data to gauge employee sentiment
- Streamlining processes such as recruitment by sifting candidates, booking and re-booking interviews, sending reminders, etc
- Reducing workflows
- Enhancing communications
- Allowing teams to share one true version of information immediately
- Enabling staff to access real-time information about holiday, expenses, and payroll without needing to ask
- Being the contact point for employees requesting holiday, submitting expense forms, answering common questions, answering surveys etc
How to get the best out of ChatGPT?
Stagg-Macey, who is well-acquainted with putting questions to ChatGPT, demonstrates the importance of a conversational tone (for which it has been designed) and using specifics in these examples of how an HR/wellbeing professional could use the AI:
· If you want to use it as a brainstorm buddy you could say: “remind me what headings I need in an internal business case”
· If you want to use it as a recruitment coach you could say: “I need to recruit a new person to my team. Suggest what I need to be thinking about as I start this process.” “What needs to be included in the job spec?”
· If you want to use it to get a pep talk coach you could say: “I’m feeling anxious about an upcoming meeting. Can you give me a meditation exercise to help?”
· If you’re busy at work and haven’t got time to look for recipes for a healthy meal when you get home you could say: “I’ve got these items in my fridge – give me a healthy recipe for dinner using these ingredients.”
It could be the ultimate HR/Wellbeing assistant
As she says, approached in a smart, strategic way, ChatGPT and other tech could be the ultimate “assistant you never knew you could have or needed”:
“You can get your ‘assistant’ to brainstorm with you, do some of the heavy lifting, ask you great questions to help get you thinking. While Wellbeing remains a people-focused role within workforces, there are some great ways to incorporate tech into your business wellbeing plan.”
The time to act is now
Arundale agrees. And to quell any worries about robots stealing jobs, she says she’s convinced that this type of technology will not replace HR/wellbeing jobs, but will actually transform them for the better:
“HR Business Partners could become the ‘front end’ of HR, backed by a vast amount of AI doing the transactions. But the time to act is now: HR departments need to urgently address the opportunities and challenges associated with this transformation.”