How ChatGPT and other generative AI tools are transforming HR jobs

Generative AI tools including ChatGPT are infiltrating a wide range of industries—and HR is not immune from the impacts of the emerging technology. Nor are HR professionals free from concerns about AI eventually stealing their jobs. However, experts say that, while the technology could indeed eliminate some HR roles, HR leaders should be more focused on how AI could change the profession and even create new opportunities.

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HR is among the leading professions experimenting with AI, particularly in the talent acquisition space, where it is being used to help generate job requisitions and create policy documents, company handbooks and other forms of relevant content. It can also assist recruiters with scheduling and communicating with candidates and even act as a personal digital assistant.

HR is also tapping generative AI like ChatGPT for its knowledge-sourcing capabilities, which is its top emerging use case according to research from the International Data Corporation, says Zachary Chertok, a workforce research analyst with IDC.

Generative AI tools, including ChatGPT, can provide HR leaders with the ability to extract real-time information based on query searches as well as help cast a wide net across systems and concept silos, Chertok says. And ultimately, the technology can enable an employer to offer the right resources to the right people at the right time, to drive a data-informed people strategy. 

But since that has long been the responsibility of human HR professionals, the shift may have some HR professionals skeptical of embracing the technology. It’s a concern fueled by recent reports: The World Economic Forum, for instance, forecasted a 2% decrease in employment in the coming years, in part because of AI; meanwhile, IBM leadership made waves when it announced a halt on hiring for jobs that could be automated, with a particular focus on HR roles that are non-customer-facing.

ChatGPT to steal HR jobs?

Generative AI and ChatGPT most likely will help HR teams reduce tasks, accelerate work and boost efficiency—not steal HR jobs, Chertok tells HRE.

But in reducing those tasks per HR role, the technology is likely to mean that organizations will need fewer people to do that job, he notes. Think of the evolution of checkout stands in the grocery business, where self-service kiosks reduce the number of cashiers needed—but do not eliminate the need for that role altogether.

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Similarly, HR and IT help desks are expected to be the first departments hit with job losses because of generative AI, including ChatGPT, Chertok says. 

“Naturally, there’s still going to be a certain amount of complex answers that will need to be provided by those teams but answering the simple questions can be automated with generative AI,” he says.

He predicts the same will hold true for positions that require only basic writing skills, such as crafting a job description.

When companies hire fewer people as technology picks up the slack, job demand is inevitably affected, says Rebecca Wettemann, CEO and principal analyst with research firm Valoir. She suggests that HR leaders get ahead of any job losses by taking such steps as developing reskilling and training programs for HR teams and leaning into the creative problem-solving that they do.

HR roles change, emerge with generative AI, ChatGPT

With fewer tasks required thanks to generative AI and ChatGPT, the odds are great that additional roles will be assigned to HR professionals, making those roles “multi-competency” ones, Chertok says.

“They may take on more dynamic responsibilities, depending on their skills and position,” Chertok says. “Any time you have a broadening of skills, competencies or responsibilities in one role, it diminishes the need for added headcount overall because one FTE can do more.”

For example, HR generalists and performance managers may be combined into one role, while talent market intelligence analysts may take on additional recruiting, interviewing and level one hiring functions under a merged role, Chertok says.

Wettemann hasn’t seen new HR job titles emerge because of generative AI yet, but don’t be surprised to see that, she says.

“I think we’ll see a real shift in talent management roles, not just the traditional talent tracking sort of thing that can be automated,” Wettemann tells HRE. “It will be thinking more creatively about what are the real opportunities within the organization, what are the skills, the gaps, and what should a training strategy look like to bring everyone along to be more productive with AI?”

What’s the generative AI adoption rate for HR?

Among the various industries and roles that are experimenting with generative AI, HR is among the most active users based on job roles, according to a report by Valoir. 

“HR has always been ahead of the curve and thinking about the ethical use of data within an organization, far ahead of the customer service people, marketing people and certainly salespeople,” Wettemann said. “No ding to salespeople, but HR has always, always taken the role of data steward very, very seriously.”

ChatGPT-job-role-automationWorkers experiment with ChatGPTHR’s willingness to lean into technology could be affecting companywide perceptions of the impact of automation. When Valoir asked employees to estimate what percentage of their co-workers could be replaced by AI in the next two years, 62% pointed to HR.

Co-workers replaced by ChatGPTHowever, any potential job losses will likely move at a much slower pace, says Chertok.

And although Wettemann acknowledges the reality that some HR professionals will be replaced because of the technology, the need for humans leading HR won’t completely fade.

“HR is uniquely positioned to be part of the game,” Wettemann says. “When you think of replacing part of the HR world, there’s no HR person who says, ‘Boy, I have nothing to do today.’ There are always things on their plate, so [HR should focus on] taking advantage of technology to automate menial parts of the work areas where AI can do some heavy lifting.” 

Dawn Kawamoto, Human Resource Executive
Dawn Kawamoto
Dawn Kawamoto is HR Editor of Human Resource Executive. She is an award-winning journalist who has covered technology business news for such publications as CNET and has covered the HR and careers industry for such organizations as Dice and Built In prior to joining HRE. She can be reached at [email protected] and below on social media.