Since ChatGPT launched in November, many HR professionals have used the generative artificial intelligence tool to perform some of their daily tasks. While anxiety remains about "robots taking our jobs," ChatGPT can make HR professionals more productive, freeing them up from repetitive tasks and allowing them to spend more time on strategic work.
ChatGPT as an HR Tool
Like any emerging technology, ChatGPT offers both benefits and risks. Using it effectively requires a willingness to learn and experiment. "ChatGPT saves me hours of work every week and boosts my productivity," said Declan Daly, managing partner at Bundoran Group, a recruitment agency. "I'm constantly discovering new ways to use it in my work."
Caroline Reidy, managing director of The HR Suite, an HR services firm, shares Daly's enthusiasm for ChatGPT: "You might not get perfect results every time you use it, but generating a quick, working draft with ChatGPT can significantly reduce the time you spend on document development and other administrative tasks."
However, relying uncritically on ChatGPT without performing a careful, human review of its generated content has some large potential risks. "ChatGPT's generated content may sound reliable, but it's also generic and historical," said author Dave Ulrich, winner of the Society for Human Resource Management's 2020 Michael R. Losey Excellence in Human Resource Research Award. "Generative AI can synthesize what others may have said in the past, but it can't offer specific guidance about what your company should do now in a specific circumstance. Organizations will always need HR professionals who can do their own thinking."
Common HR Tasks ChatGPT Can Perform
People are already paying attention to ChatGPT for its ability to write job descriptions. LinkedIn, for example, just announced it will soon introduce a feature enabling AI-written job posts. Here are six other HR tasks the tool can help HR professionals perform:
1. Recruiting. "You can use ChatGPT to generate relevant interview questions to ask candidates for roles you aren't familiar with," Daly said. "You can also ask for the average salary for specific jobs or common benefits that are offered by other industries for a particular role, narrowed down by geography."
2. Onboarding. HR professionals can set up ChatGPT to give real-time support to new hires by answering questions about company policies, procedures and benefits, as well as offer them guidance on completing necessary paperwork.
3. Administrative tasks. ChatGPT can help HR professionals craft and send announcements and reminders to employees about events, such as training programs. The AI tool can also be used to write all sorts of documents (from handbooks to policy memos and beyond), as well as send automatic e-mail responses.
4. Employee self-service. ChatGPT can be leveraged to build conversational chatbots, providing instant support for common questions about benefits, vacation policies and payroll. More complex employee issues can be escalated from self-service tools to an HR professional for follow-up. The human follow-up could be blended with ChatGPT as well.
5. Employee surveys. You can ask ChatGPT to craft survey questions for measuring employee engagement. "ChatGPT enables you to conduct companywide polls to gauge opinions on specific workplace issues, such as the pros and cons of hybrid work and the viability of a four-day workweek," said Sean Stevens, director at Immerse Education, an academic services firm in the U.K.
6. Performance reviews. "ChatGPT can help with performance management by supplying HR professionals and managers with instructions on how to conduct performance appraisals and by responding to inquiries from employees about performance metrics," said Adam Wood, co-founder of RevenueGeeks, which helps businesses sell products on Amazon.
Maximizing ChatGPT's Benefits, Reducing Risks
ChatGPT's generated content comes from the Internet and can be inaccurate or biased. For example, if the source data ChatGPT scours through says "The moon is made of yellow cheese," its generated content would reflect that. HR professionals can provide ChatGPT with detailed source information, including employee data, internal company knowledge bases and HR policies or procedures, to generate customized content and answer questions.
Another challenge in using ChatGPT is that generated content can have the wrong tone. "As an HR professional, you sometimes work on sensitive topics where automating replies might work against you," said Ryan Faber, founder of Copymatic, an AI-based business writing platform. "Sensitive tasks such as layoffs and terminations should never be handed over to ChatGPT, because human empathy and nuance are required."
Finally, the generated content might not comply with data privacy or other legal standards in HR. Again, be sure to review what ChatGPT writes to make sure the content is useable and compliant.
'Trust, But Verify'
What former President Ronald Reagan once said about negotiating with the Soviet Union also applies to using ChatGPT: "Trust, but verify." Or as Daly said, "I recommend using ChatGPT as a starting point, but would still speak to an expert or refer to another data source for verification of what the tool generates."
Being able to use ChatGPT effectively, and with the right safeguards and controls in place, "will become an essential HR skill moving forward," Reidy said. "It will take some time for HR professionals and organizations to become good at using the tool."
At the end of the day, ChatGPT is an important HR tool that should be deployed critically and selectively for HR tasks, with a clear-eyed understanding of its strengths and weaknesses.
Joseph Romsey is a freelance writer based in Boston.
SHRM toolkit tips
Mitigating Bias in AI
Employers that are considering using AI-powered tools in their workplace should consider taking the following actions:
- Develop multidisciplinary innovation teams that include legal and human resource staff.
- Continue human review of AI-assisted decision-making.
- Implement disclosure and informed consent when necessary and appropriate.
- Audit what is being measured before implementing the program, and on an ongoing basis.
- Impose tight controls on data access.
- Engage in careful external vendor contract reviews.
- Work with vendors that take an inclusive approach to design. Consider whether the designers and programmers come from diverse backgrounds and have diverse points of view.
- Insist on the right to review external validation studies.
Read the full SHRM members-only toolkit: Using Artificial Intelligence for Employment Purposes
Making HR Tech Easy: ChatGPT 101 for HR Pros, SHRM Online, January 2023