ChatGPT for HR: Learn it ‘now, now, now’ or risk being replaced

When OpenAI released its ChatGPT solution last fall, it took just five days to reach 1 million users—driving a hype that experts say is unmatched by any piece of technology.

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The conversations at the HR Technology Conference in Las Vegas this week were so focused on generative AI that Johannes Sundlo, senior HR manager at Swedish videogame maker Avalanche Studios Group, opened his presentation joking that he hoped never to hear “AI” again—and his presentation was on AI.

The hype may seem overblown, but that doesn’t mean HR can ignore it, Sundlo notes, pointing to a quote from researcher Roy Amara: “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”

‘True efficiency gains’

Already, 80% of Fortune 500 companies are using ChatGPT in some capacity; in particular, HR functions are turning to the technology for everything from drafting job postings to candidate communication and skills matching.

And they could be seeing a big payoff. Boston Consulting Group estimates a 30% increase in efficiency among companies that deploy ChatGPT for HR tasks. Even if that projection were high and ChatGPT only drove a 10% efficiency improvement, for instance, Sundlo says, that’s a half-day per week HR practitioners could get back.

See also: HR Technology Europe announces keynoters for inaugural event

Research from Harvard Business School also found that consultants who utilized ChatGPT finished 12.2% more tasks than those not relying on tech and completed tasks 25% more quickly, with 40% higher quality results.

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“There are true efficiency gains to be had here,” he says.

Sundlo, one of HRE‘s Top 100 HR Tech Influencers this year, often turns to the tool in his own work. Recently, when preparing a presentation about the company’s shifting organizational model, he asked ChatGPT to play “devil’s advocate” and help him compare the traditional and new models, including questioning his beliefs. It’s a 45-minute exercise that he says made his presentation much stronger.

When HR leaders use ChatGPT, they need to “drop the Google mindset”—don’t think you can ask it one question and then walk away, or, if you didn’t get the results you wanted, ask a different way. Treat the interaction as a true dialogue.

“Talk to ChatGPT,” he says. “Constantly give it feedback.”

Sundlo acknowledges he could’ve consulted colleagues for their feedback, but using the technology offers built-in efficiency.

“[Colleagues’] time is scarce. ChatGPT’s time is never scarce.”

More from Johannes Sundlo: HR Tech 2023 Blew My Mind – AI, Vendors, and Why You Must Go to HR Technology Europe!

Getting started with ChatGPT for HR

More than half of employees surveyed by Gallup said they don’t feel prepared to use ChatGPT. While it may take time for the workforce to warm up to the tech, HR has no choice but to dive in, Sundlo says.

He cited several generative AI-driven HR products already on the market—Microsoft Copilot, Duet AI and Workday’s HCM platform.

Johannes Sundlo
Johannes Sundlo at HR Tech

“It will impact our jobs. This is coming for all of you whether you like it or not,” says Sundlo, urging HR leaders to remember Amara’s theory about “overestimation.” “If we don’t start to think about this now and don’t plan for the future, don’t decide the future, then we could be in a place where we’ll be out of jobs.”

Because, he says, jobs aren’t necessarily going to be replaced by machines—but rather by humans who know how to use those machines.

So, how to get started?

Sundlo offers a four-pronged approach:

  • Be curious: Try ChatGPT, he advises. And then try it again and again.
  • Educate yourself: Resources abound about the tool and other forms of generative AI, so read, watch and learn.
  • Work together: Gather your HR team for roundtables and practical learning sessions where members bounce their experiences with the technology off one another.
  • Formalize a strategy: Organizations should consider forming an AI council, including leadership from HR, IT, legal and other units across the company to consider how it can leverage the technology for business success.

Sundlo’s most direct advice for getting started? “Just start.”

“Just start doing, start exploring, start thinking. We need to create this together, but we need to start,” he says, noting that HR should keep the long game in mind as their motivation for doing the work. At next year’s HR Tech, for instance, he doubts ChatGPT will have necessarily revolutionized the HR function. But 10-15 years from now?

“I’m 100% certain everything will have changed,” he says. “And that’s why we don’t need to do this later. We need to do this now, now, now.”

Join HRE and keynote speakers Josh Bersin, Madeline Laurano, David Green and Hung Lee at HR Technology Europe next year, set for May 2-3, 2024, in Amsterdam. Learn more and register here.

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Jen Colletta
Jen Colletta is managing editor at HRE. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in writing from La Salle University in Philadelphia and spent 10 years as a newspaper reporter and editor before joining HRE. She can be reached at [email protected].