Loving ChatGPT for HR? Early adopters should move with caution

Artificial intelligence chatbot tools such as ChatGPT are getting more and more mentions in today’s news cycles. However, a recent survey from global organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry indicates that as HR adoption picks up, organizations are just beginning to consider whether they should be regulating or providing guidelines around the use of chatbot tools and related technologies.

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Just 21% of 312 professionals surveyed work at companies that are discouraging the use of ChatGPT in the workplace. It’s a number that could—and perhaps should—rise in coming months, according to experts. HR and employers should tread carefully when it comes to general HR processes, especially talent management needs, according to Brad Frank, a senior client partner in Korn Ferry’s technology practice.

Related: Read more from HRE on ChatGPT in HR here.

“ChatGPT is a useful tool, but it shouldn’t replace the personalized approach people bring to their daily work or even job searches,” Frank says. “ChatGPT can streamline the process but should always be checked for both accuracy and the nuances that make a candidate or employee stand out.”

Steve Scott, president and chief operating officer at Engage PEO, a professional employer organization providing HR outsourcing solutions to small and mid-sized businesses, says that companies primarily have been using AI technology to automate and optimize non-HR processes. He cites examples including research, ideation, customer service, content creation, writing/improving code, and translation, among others.

“The intended impact is to save time and money and deploy resources toward revenue-generating activities,” says Scott, adding that as with any new technology, when customer service started using chatbots, there was some pushback and slow adoption. Today, he notes, many customers actually prefer this as a way to get quick answers to common questions.

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HR is fertile territory for AI and ChatGPT

As for the role HR can play in using ChatGPT internally in the months and years ahead, even with being new territory HR is a fertile area where AI and ChatGPT can improve people-facing processes and HR performance. With that, Scott’s not surprised by the Korn Ferry finding that a vast majority of organizations are not discouraging the use of ChatGPT and similar tools.

“Human resources has not typically played a role in determining whether a company should use AI in various business processes, but HR has been using it to evaluate resumes and job performance, and in some cases, to evaluate candidates in virtual interviews via facial analysis,” he says.

As an emerging application of AI technology, Scott explains that ChatGPT is still in the experimental phase for many HR uses. With that, some employers and their HR staff will choose to experiment with it, while others will wait for it to develop further.

“HR can play a role in evaluating and recommending whether specific employees can use it in their work, and when they can use it, and then create policies for this usage,” he says. “There are legal risks to consider, mostly around accuracy, bias, confidentiality, privacy and compliance.”

He adds that early HR adopters of ChatGPT must fact-check the results carefully before using them, noting that critics warn that users of ChatGPT risk publishing inaccurate information, a risk potentially significant enough to steer clear of it.

“As for a legal risk, the EEOC is looking into the employment discrimination risks, and employers must keep track of laws restricting its use,” Scott says.

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Tom Starner
Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at [email protected].