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Ep 536: AI -Benefits, Risks and Potential

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AI has dominated the discussion for months now, and if recent conversations are anything to go by, this shows no sign of letting up. However, the initial hysteria is fading, and the hype is slowly turning into meaningful discussions about what the AI-driven future will look like.

So what is the potential of AI in TA and HR, what are the current benefits, and perhaps most importantly, what are the risks? I was keen to get the perspectives of a Chief People Officer on all of this, so I’m delighted that my guest this week is Geri Morgan, Chief People Officer at Intellum. Gerri has some excellent advice to share and even got ChatGPT to actively participate in our conversation!

In the interview, we discuss:

• What aspects of employer engagement will benefit from AI?

• Personalization

• The opportunities AI offers HR

• Tech for tasks – AI as our new co-worker

• What are the current use cases?

• Compliance, ethics and legislation

• Keeping the momentum of innovation going

• Mitigating risk

• Building out AI-enabled processes

• What does the future look like for HR?

Listen to this podcast in Apple Podcasts.

Transcript:

Matt Alder (Intro) (1m 2s):
Hi there. this is Matt Alder Welcome to Episode 536 of the Recruiting Future podcast. AI has dominated the discussion for months now, and if recent conversations are anything to go by, this shows no sign of letting up. However, the initial hysteria is fading, and the hype is slowly turning into meaningful discussions about what the AI-driven future will look like. So, what is the potential of AI in TA and HR, what are the current benefits, and perhaps more importantly, what are the risks?

Matt Alder (Intro) (1m 43s):
I was keen to get the perspectives of a Chief People Officer, so I’m delighted that my guest this week is Geri Morgan, Chief People Officer at Intellum. Geri has some excellent advice to share and even managed to get ChatGPT to take an active role in our conversation.

Matt Alder (2m 2s):
Hi Geri and welcome to the podcast.

Geri Morgan (2m 4s):
Thanks, Matt. Great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Matt Alder (2m 7s):
An absolute pleasure to have you on the show. Please, could you introduce yourself and tell everyone what you do?

Geri Morgan (2m 13s):
Absolutely. I’m Geri Morgan and I’m proud to be one of the people and culture professionals that chose this career on purpose. I didn’t fall into HR like so many. I knew right after college that this was a career that would allow me to make a positive difference for others and believed that our work is a critical element for successful businesses. So for me, that started with joining a world-class grocery retailer based here in Cincinnati, Ohio, the Kroger company. And at Kroger I personally experienced the top-notch management development program and how to bring your core values to life in a customer focused environment.

Geri Morgan (2m 55s):
And then from there I really was able to build on that foundation and focused my experience in the technology space, working in pharmaceutical and then most recently real estate technology companies. I’ve been really excited to have create some fantastic people first cultures that have been recognized as top workplaces. And then today I serve as the chief people officer at In Intellum. A little bit about in Intellum is that we’re a single destination for all things education. Whether your audiences, your internal teams, customers or partners, our SaaS platform helps provide everything you need to create, present, manage, track, and engage your audience from a single destination.

Geri Morgan (3m 41s):
I’m excited to be here.

Matt Alder (3m 43s):
We are gonna talk about, basically the only topic that people want to talk about at the moment, which is AI. And it comes up in every single podcast, but in this one we’re sort of gonna talk specifically about it, and you know, your kind of experiences and your thoughts of dealing with it.

Geri Morgan (3m 58s):
That sounds fun. And since I knew we were gonna talk a little bit about the future of AI and HR, I thought it would be fun if we did an icebreaker completely driven by ChatGPT. What do you think?

Matt Alder (4m 14s):
Why not? Yeah, let’s do it.

Geri Morgan (4m 16s):
Perfect. All right, here it goes. So my ChatGPT prompt that I’m using is to create an icebreaker question for a podcast conversation about the future of AI and HR technology. All right. So here’s our question. Imagine a future where AI plays a prominent role in HR technology. What aspects of the employee experience do you think would benefit most from this advancement and why? All right, Matt, you’re up.

Matt Alder (4m 47s):
So, I have to answer this. Okay. So, I think there are so many things that we could talk about, and I’m interested to hear your answer to it in a second. I mean, you know, an obvious one is obviously the kind of the reduction of all the admin work that people have to do. I’m going to take a slightly different angle on this and I’m gonna think about it from a perspective of actually what AI could do to things like software interfaces and the way that software interconnects. So if we’re talking about employee experience, the software that we have to use at work is a key part of that experience and can be very frustrating. And I think that actually AI will make it easier because it can provide that kind of natural language interface into lots of potential applications.

Matt Alder (5m 34s):
I think AI will make it easier for people to do their jobs because it’ll make the software they use at work easier to use.

Geri Morgan (5m 41s):
Perfect. That was a great answer, Matt. I think the employee experience is going to benefit the most because of AI, because that personalized experience that it’s going to provide in software as well as the employee interaction. It’s going to help us not only be more productive and focus on what we’re good at within our jobs, but then that’s gonna help us feel rewarded and engaged so we can unlock new skills and help inspire continued development. So, I think that AI is gonna allow us to focus on improving the employee experience by helping people grow and focus on their strengths and just look out because there’s gonna be some tremendous things that will be coming from the future of AI and what that means in the workplace.

Matt Alder (6m 30s):
Absolutely, and I think that personalization thing is really important. I suppose take a slightly more sort of take a step back, take a bit more of a helicopter view about this and also building on what you’ve just said. What opportunities does AI present for HR in particular?

Geri Morgan (6m 45s):
I think AI brings us the opportunity to use machines to help people do their jobs better. We’re basically introducing a new coworker to our environment. And so this is gonna force us for a little bit to go back to the basics and rethink what do we want humans to focus on, what are we good at, and then where do we wanna leverage technology? I believe that we should focus on doing the things we’re good at and then leveraging machines to do what they do well. The way that we’ve been talking about it within my team is identifying technology for tasks, tech for tasks. And that helps give us, in the HR profession more time to dedicate to relationships and strategy work.

Geri Morgan (7m 32s):
I see two different schools of thought or degrees of comfort with embracing this new coworker. And I don’t think you really fall in one camp or the other, it’s just more of a spectrum of progressive or maybe you just focus more on compliance. I think the industry and the type of organization that you’re working for certainly drives where you operate along the spectrum and the opportunities are gonna be a little different when you work in a technology company versus let’s say government. But regardless, we need to be prepared for AI. Even If, you’re not using it today, you need to be in tune with both those risks and the benefits.

Geri Morgan (8m 15s):
I think those opportunities are just beginning to be realized though, and we’re focused right now on the efficiency side of things and eliminating all those manual tasks so there’s more time to create and develop new goals and community. So, I think that there’s just so much more that we’re gonna be able to realize once we begin using AI in the workplace.

Matt Alder (8m 38s):
No, absolutely. I wanna talk about compliance and risk and all of those things in a second. But before we do, just to a lot of the conversation about AI is about future use cases, and potential, and threats, and all these kind of things, what use cases are you seeing already right now? How is this being used in the workplace? What are the short term opportunities?

Geri Morgan (9m 2s):
So right now, some of the low hanging fruit is things like meeting notes, having someone or AI. Be able to capture and document those meeting notes or one of the things I’m most in interested on is interview note taking. So saving the hand a little bit if you’re in a completely remote workforce. We’re also using it with helping to build the foundation on job descriptions, writing communications, creating some visuals and graphics, even presentations really AI can help build the the foundation for you. We also, another space for personalization that we’re currently seeing is around the opportunity to personalize the content in your LMS based off of the learner.

Geri Morgan (9m 52s):
So it’s just like Netflix does recommending shows based off of our watch history. LMS content is doing the same right now for the learner, based off of what you’re completing, recommending new content that can keep you engaged and keep developing those skills. And one other fun thing, our product and engineering team just wrapped up an engagement challenge that was centered on AI use. And so this leader used this opportunity to create innovation and outside of the box thinking and they were able to leverage and present different AI completed tasks and they voted on the best work that was completed within that group.

Geri Morgan (10m 34s):
So it really turned into a team building opportunity too.

Matt Alder (10m 37s):
I suppose the elephant in the room with all of this is, you kind of already mentioned compliance. There are big questions about ethics when it comes to AI. And also pending legislation both in North America and Europe, and no doubt elsewhere in the world. How, what’s your advice to HR leaders? How should they be dealing with this, thinking about this, opening up the opportunities to use it, but also being aware of those things that are going on in the background?

Geri Morgan (11m 8s):
Yeah, it’s definitely a tough balance. What my advice is to start with those lower risk processes and incorporate AI first in those areas. So focusing on automating those manual tasks and also working with your vendors and seeing where they’re invested in improving AI and what their product roadmap is. I think some of the biggest risks that we’re facing now, like you already mentioned is bias. Research is finding that gender, race, and disability biases when using AI and performance management, merit allocations, and stack ranking is creating issues and ethical considerations.

Geri Morgan (11m 52s):
And so really proceeding with caution in any of those applications, there’s also that big security risk too. It will personal identifiable information be exposed, re-putting employee information outside of our secure networks and that would include customer information or any proprietary information. And so focusing on those lower risk processes and making sure that we’re avoiding any of those potential pitfalls is a great place to start. We’ve also developed and recently launched an AI policy to help educate employees of these risks.

Geri Morgan (12m 33s):
And then engaging with your security team as you’re evaluating different AI tools, using that vendor assessment process and partnering with them to make sure that we’re using the right tools for the business.

Matt Alder (12m 47s):
With all these risks and pending legislation and all these kind of things I suppose this is something that traditionally HR would be very wary of, IT departments would wanna lock down. It would be something that corporates and particularly public sector and government bodies shied away from. We’ve already talked about the huge benefits and almost the inevitability of where it’s going. How can we keep the momentum of AI driven innovation moving in HR taking all this into account?

Geri Morgan (13m 20s):
Yeah, I mean it is very exciting and uncertain time for sure to automate some of those labor-intensive tasks. And I think keeping the momentum going starts with encouraging that innovation across your team, getting creative and having fun when appropriate. Internally you can share those successes of how AI is being used. And then also those challenges, those ones can be quite funny by the way the AI fails. You could start a dedicated Slack group or internal community with sharing the applications of AI or even start your meetings with an AI generated icebreaker like we did here.

Geri Morgan (14m 6s):
The other thing keeping momentum going is having those conversations, talking with your vendors, how are they leveraging AI and their product roadmap. Aligning yourself with vendors who are invested in this area and specifically how they’re working to improve efficiency and reduced bias. There’s a lot of great work that’s happening on the vendor front. Some of the things that on performance management. I’ve seen AI being used to help write smart goals, recommend development activities that support that goal. So, really getting front of your vendors and asking when you can expect to get your hands on some of their work, I think is a great way to keep momentum going.

Geri Morgan (14m 50s):
And then building out processes that incorporate AI use. So there’s gonna be ongoing maintenance and training. That’s gonna be required because we’re just scratching the surface here. But as you begin to identify opportunities to automate a task, review those risks and then, you know, implement, celebrate, start small and keep building upon it. I think most importantly, just start. Ask yourself what can you move forward with confidently? Begin using technologies that are more mature versus the things that are still being tested and refined and start with those task-oriented things.

Geri Morgan (15m 32s):
And always trust but verify. Anytime I see data, or a statistic reported, check your facts. Just making sure that what you’re putting your name behind is the actual results and the information that you wanted to be connected to. Because at the end of the day, it’s our name, our reputation, and our brand. And so we wanna proceed with caution when it comes to deliverables that could jeopardize any of those areas.

Matt Alder (15m 57s):
That’s absolutely brilliant advice and I couldn’t agree with you more. As a final question by way of sort of summarizing everything that we’ve talked about. If you could look into the future and see what the the world of work, the world of HR look like in, you know, I don’t know, let’s say five years-time, what would you hope would’ve happened? Where would AI have taken us to?

Geri Morgan (16m 21s):
Well, I think that for me, the biggest benefit for AI is gonna be able to help us on the data analysis and trending side of things. I think there’s a great opportunity to help us understand elements like readiness for promotion, retention risks, and then we can have more intentional conversations with team members around their growth and development and providing better advice to our leaders. So I think that the work around the data analysis and helping feed where we should be focusing our time and energy is just a tremendous opportunity. And then it’s also gonna help us better connect to business goals, reporting and information that will allow us to identify where we’re excelling or where we need to keep improving from a statistic standpoint and the business outcomes of things.

Geri Morgan (17m 20s):
I can’t wait for AI to start replying to my emails for me. And, you know, go ahead and answer those simple questions that are coming through my inbox. But I think at the end of the day, it’s just improving the way that we work and embracing this new team member. There’s still so much that’s unknown and it’s almost like we’re back where we were in 2020 with some uncharted territories, some new scenarios that we find ourselves in. And so we’re helping to steer our businesses through this together. And so just very thankful for communities like this where we get to talk about what we’re doing and further support each other.

Matt Alder (18m 2s):
Geri, thank you very much for talking to me.

Geri Morgan (18m 5s):
It’s been a pleasure, Matt. Thank you.

Matt Alder (18m 9s):
My thanks to, Geri. You can subscribe to this podcast in Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or via your podcasting app of choice. Please also follow the show on Instagram. You can find us by searching for Recruiting Future. You can search all the past episodes at recruitingfuture.com. On that site, you can also subscribe to our monthly newsletter Recruiting Future Feast and get the inside track about everything that’s coming up on the show. Thanks very much for listening. I’ll be back next time, and I hope you’ll join me.

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