Blog Hiring How-To Thought Leadership

The Future of HR/People Ops is more than human.

The level of complexity (and, dare we say it…’strategic’ issues) in the lap of the Chief People Officer is real. And while GenAI will play a role in every part of business, including PeopleOps/HR, the question is, how will it serve us? 

The pandemic’s complexity added fuel to the fire of People Ops’ alchemizing from old conceptions of an admin-heavy function to a clear, strategic lynchpin for thriving organizations.

PeopleOps teams are spending more time on strategic work that requires creativity…and is fueled by actionable data that AI can offer up. That’s what we’re seeing, and recent research backs us up. 

Author and HR consultant Josh Bersin says the research behind his Systematic HR model shows that HR teams are morphing into creators, developers, and consultants. The future of PeopleOps/HR is less as support agents and more as consultants, product managers, designers, and advisors.

That leads us to AI. 

As opposed to traditional AI, which performs specific tasks based on rules, GenAI (generative AI) learns patterns and generates new content or data. It can automate mundane tasks and function like a widely read assistant for strategy and building work (and for that, we’re exploring Mem…what are you exploring?). 

Interestingly, 84% of employers surveyed by E&Y expect to be using GenAI, but only 49% of employees said the same. We hope to support you on the ‘how to adopt it effectively’ side!

BCG reports the impact we’ve seen with GenAI as your “co-pilot” – how personalized recruiting, onboarding, and learning journeys free up time for you to do the truly human work. 

For a specific example…one of our Forshay consultants leveraged ChatGPT to build customizable learning paths for employees. Based on employee title, role, skill level, and time available, it would scan content from Workday, LinkedIn learning, the company’s internal knowledge base, and research from HBR and Gartner to develop a learning path with optional daily or weekly assignments. BCG also used GenAI to create a new learning course. 

What they found reminds us of the 80/20 Pareto principle. Even when creating something “new,” 80% of work is often derivative to lay a foundation. Sure enough, AI helped out the most at the front end of the process. It was during the last 20% or so that human input was crucial to provide context and customization. 

Where the doubt is real.

Across the board, these research reports stress a “people first” mindset – making the (sort of obvious) point that instead of focusing on what generative AI does, the real juice is in how it’s going to help companies and employees navigate the “next normal” of work. And here’s the rub – while the people-first mindset seems obvious, it isn’t always what we are seeing in general. 

Our recent posts have pointed out data showing that many companies still operate with a “cost-first” mindset, whether it be layoffs or RTO policies designed to cut costs and employees. 

We’re seeing echoes of this not-so-people-first reality in the AI sentiment data. Again, from BCG: 81% of employers feel the organization is good at managing change, while 62% of employees feel that way.

When asked if they agree with this statement: “The organization has gone through large-scale change and successfully invested in its people,” 57% of employees agree, compared to 80% of employers. 

It’s not too hard to see why employees may be nervous about how companies will navigate and integrate disruptive technology like generative AI. 

To AI or not to AI is not the question. 

EY has identified and studied what they term “thriving companies” – a subset of about 20% of organizations that have successfully integrated a “we not me” approach to build a deep culture of trust.

How about this as the north star for GenAI – How can GenAI help with the goal of “we, not me”? It’s a question worth considering, given that thriving companies show triple-digit improvement in outcomes (EY findings) – 

  • A 140% increase in optimism that the company can attract the talent it needs. 
  • Employees were 204% more likely to agree that company productivity has changed and improved in the last 2 to 3 years.
  • Leadership was 131% more likely to agree that the company successfully navigated external pressure in the last two years.
  • Employees were 187% more likely to agree flexible work has been successfully operationalized.

Holiday Food for Thought

Before you dive into “how to use GenAI,” consider spending some time on the end game. What do you want more (and less!) of in your organization? Where can AI of any kind help? 

Guess what? We asked ChatGPT the following:

For an organization with a strong culture of trust and a “we not me” first approach, what are three to six thought-provoking questions that HR should ask about implementing GenAI?

Here is the ChatGPT response:

Absolutely; here are six thought-provoking questions that HR departments in organizations with a strong culture of trust and a “we not me” ethos should consider when thinking about implementing GenAI:

  1. How can GenAI be aligned with our organization’s core values of trust and collective well-being to enhance rather than dilute them?
  2. What safeguards can we put in place to ensure GenAI tools are transparent and accountable, thereby maintaining our culture of trust?
  3. In what ways can GenAI facilitate more equitable and inclusive team collaborations, keeping in line with our “we not me” philosophy?
  4. How can we ensure that GenAI does not inadvertently perpetuate biases or inequalities that could harm the sense of community and trust within the organization?
  5. Can GenAI be programmed or trained to recognize and reward team-oriented behaviors over individual achievements, thereby promoting our “we not me” culture?
  6. How can we involve all layers of the organization, from leadership to entry-level, in the decision-making process around the adoption and governance of GenAI to ensure it serves the collective good?

Then you could ask it…”provide one high impact, immediate, and easy-to-complete action an organization can take to begin exploring these questions.” Let GenAI serve you. 

Do you agree? We’d love to know what you think.