ChatGPT and the future of work – 10 keys for HR to manage cultural change

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With its incredibly realistic way of imitating human language, ChatGPT is revolutionizing how people interact with technology and each other. How does this impact the organizational culture and the ways of working? What challenges does it pose? In this post, we will address these issues and provide tools to manage a transformation that seems unavoidable.

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The ChatGPT Revolution

Artificial intelligence has been a disruptive force in various sectors, and Human Resources will be no exception.

With its natural language model that delivers consistent and relevant responses in seconds, ChatGPT has the potential to impact how organizations:


  • interact with their customers, their employees, their suppliers, and the community

  • automate tasks

  • make decisions


Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the phenomenon is the rate at which it evolves and the developments that arise as a consequence.

For example, Bing has already incorporated ChatGPT into the browser, and Google is developing its own version of AI.

Likewise, Microsoft will integrate ChatGPT into what used to be the Office package (now Microsoft 365). Thus, it will provide an assistant that will take information from Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, and Teams, which will allow you to create documents, and presentations, analyze information, and more, with the assistance of artificial intelligence.

“And more” means it will be able to access all the information on a subject regardless of whether it has been channeled through a network, e-mail, documents, or other means.



Image: Microsoft


Perhaps your organization is not very advanced in technology and you feel that this is still a distant problem. But how many organizations don’t use Microsoft 365 or Google?

Sooner or later – emphasis on “sooner” – the way your employees work will change and understanding its implications and risks is a task that cannot be postponed.


The Impact of ChatGPT in the Workplace

ChatGPT is changing – or will change – the nature of work.

The possibility of automating repetitive, simple tasks, and predictable and recurring cycles, can undoubtedly improve productivity and efficiency. 

And it has an additional advantage. For example, it will not be necessary to become an expert and certify RPA – you will be your own developer.

But while its potential benefits are clear, it also poses a threat to millions of jobs.


Source: Sortlist Data Hub


According to a survey conducted by Sortlist Data Hub, only in the technology industry do employers plan to cut one in four jobs. And this is just the start.

Now the question is… what do AI tools actually replace? A part of the information capture and analysis process? The reasoning? The syllogism that leads to a conclusion? At the moment, it is still necessary to monitor and edit the responses. But will this continue to be so?

On the other hand, at the most optimistic end, it is argued that with AI systems in place, teams can perform tasks with more pride and confidence, and collaborate more effectively. But this is not always the case. The cause-effect relationship will have to be analyzed in each different scenario.

Not all organizations are the same. Understanding the impact of new technologies on how your organization works is the first step to taking measures that favor the growth and development of talent.


Challenges of ChatGPT and other AI Technology in the Workplace

Adopting new technologies always brings challenges. ChatGPT will not be the exception. Is your organization ready for it?

Next, we will review the main challenges that, in our opinion, ChatGPT presents to Human Resources areas:


Employee and leader resistance


The rapid adoption curve of ChatGPT – it reached one million users in 5 days – shows that, in general, there is not much resistance.



Source: Digital Information World


However, there are numerous concerns and fears in organizations. Undoubtedly, the largest of these has to do with the fear of job substitution. The thing is that the white collars will be the most impacted by the AI, according to a joint study carried out by Open AI, Open Research, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Understanding the resistances in the various sectors and roles will help to:


  • design strategies that allow the effective use of technology and, in turn, the development of human talent

  • redirect those positions that will become obsolete toward new profiles

  • mitigate the demotivation that changes and restructuring may cause


Changes in job roles

It is estimated that by 2027, 80% of companies will use functions that help verify content created by Artificial Intelligence. So will the new positions be AI testers?

Undoubtedly some positions will change, but most of these changes will be partial. Certain tasks and ways of performing them will change, but not the function of the position at 100%. For example, the doctor will be able to diagnose remotely but not perform remote surgery – for the time being.

As a result of these changes, notions such as “human capital” or “intellectual capital” should be reviewed as ownership will become more diffuse and shared.

In this context, those responsible for the Talent Management areas should ask themselves:


  • How are the different jobs changing?

  • What is the intellectual capital in my organization? How do I empower it with AI?

  • How do I develop people to acquire the new skills they will need?

  • How do I minimize the impact on those unable to acquire the new skills? What do I do with them?

  • Considering that AI will affect the processes of data and information analysis and decision-making, are the leadership and managerial levels prepared for it? (the problem is not only for the operational staff)

  • What does it mean to prepare? Prepare how?

  • If those who are to be “taught” have a greater understanding of new technologies, who will teach and prepare whom?

  • How do we resignify what knowledge means?

  • When, still, the vast majority of organizations do not “manage knowledge”, what will the management of that knowledge be like, now being much more digital and with shorter life cycles?


Need to develop new skills

As technology changes the nature of jobs, people will need to acquire new skills and abilities.

For example, employees who previously worked in customer service will now need to learn how to interact with chatbots and handle more complex interactions.

Technical skills, fortunately, are relatively easy to learn. But we must not also forget those soft skills that are necessary to face new challenges. We will go back to this later.


Loss of human interactions

According to a study conducted by Sortlist, 40% of people points to the loss of human contact as one of the main concerns regarding ChatGPT.



This is especially visible when it comes to Customer Experience, but in the short term, it will also impact the Employee Experience.

The Theory of Happiness was closely linked to face-to-face and – even more so – between humans. Today its gurus and cultists struggle trying to explain why people don’t really want to meet their companions except at happy hour.

Some questions worth addressing in this regard:


  • What interactions are lost or modified?

  • What aspect of what is lost is important and why?

  • What actions can we generate to motivate talent and create engagement for both customers and employees?


Innovation Challenge

Another visible concern is the possible loss of human innovation capacity. How to apply creativity when ChatGPT can propose ten viable solutions in just a few seconds? How to learn more and faster than a machine?

However, it has been proven that the more prior knowledge a person has about a topic, the more possibilities for legitimate innovation. And, if what is acquired by AI is knowledge, it could create the bases for innovation.

At this point, we need to introduce a disclaimer. The fact that AI provides the bases for innovation does not imply that it necessarily generates innovation. On the contrary, it puts on the table the need to develop a culture of innovation, along with skills that promote creativity and inventiveness.

Some points that should be assessed:


  • Is the simple act of changing something an innovation?

  • How do we learn as an organization? What practices contribute to innovation?

  • Do we have a culture of continuous learning and improvement or do we just collect data?

  • What good practices for the use of AI can contribute to innovation?


Digitization, AI, and change management strategies

Finally, we would like to leave you with some strategies and suggestions to manage change.


  1. Assess the need for change

Do all organizations need to change? And what about the companies that have not gone digital yet and do not even have an ERP, will they need to take a huge leap to reach AI? Or will they have to go through the entire spectrum of evolution?

Before implementing ChatGPT, it’s important for leaders to assess whether the technology is right for their organization. They must consider factors such as:


  • the goals of the organization

  • current and future challenges

  • the potential impact of technology on culture and employees

  • the potential impact of technology on policies and processes


Understanding readiness for change, and the rate of adoption of change is critical for organizations. Leaping ahead of time or falling behind can be equally detrimental.


  1. Perform a culture diagnosis

Before implementing new technologies – and this is true for all types of digital transformation – it is important that HR leaders understand the culture of their organization.

This will allow them to:


  • identify areas where technology can have a positive impact

  • discover potential challenges

  • develop change management strategies that suit the organization


After all, culture is decisive in the success or failure of an organization when it comes to adopting (or resisting) new technologies.


  1. Develop communication skills in your employees

ChatGPT has the particularity and the pretense of looking conversational. This might make you think that it could replicate some best communication practices, such as feedback.

But the relationship between humans and artificial intelligence is just in the making and we cannot leave this interaction to chance. Working on the development of human communication skills is essential during this stage.

Some tools that can help in the process are:


  • Implementing effective communication channels (eg, online discussion groups, conducting virtual meetings, and the use of project management platforms).

  • Fostering a culture of open and transparent communication, in which employees feel safe to express their opinions and concerns


  1. Promote soft skills

ChatGPT seems to be a neutral interlocutor. From the infinity of data sources that it collects, it seeks to democratize the creation of content and thus generates the illusion of transparency and communicative honesty.

However, we must not forget that we are talking about languages. And languages are never objective. It is essential that we learn to converse with people first so that we can then talk to machines.

It is about developing the following soft skills:


  • Active listening

  • Critical capacity

  • Ability to ask good questions (What to ask and how to ask the machines to have the answers? What answers are we looking for?)

  • Empathy

  • Ability to understand different languages


4. Create new learning dynamics

Offer a set of dynamics for training instances, meetings, and other interactions that go beyond the usual ones.

To be more productive, these dynamics must:


  • combine different disciplines and areas

  • be administered with powerful and focused slogans
  • use digital resources (as a supplement, not as a replacement)


Develop new processes to humanize customer relationships

There is a theory that the more I know about my clients, the better relationships I will be able to establish, since – if I use that knowledge well – the better I will be able to find products or services that satisfy their needs. But are we sure that more people’s data necessarily means a better experience?

Imagine a guy looking for girls on Tinder. He will get much more information about a woman before dating her than he would have had long ago. Does this guarantee that when he meets her in person he will be able to better communicate his charms? We know well that this is not necessarily the case.

The same happens in mass consumption. Hypersegmentation and individualization do not always imply improvements in the customer experience.

If we look at the satisfaction statistics, we can see that the Index shows a negative trend in recent years. Is it that we believe we understand the client but we really don’t? Or do we understand the client´s needs but the rest of the organization doesn’t react accordingly?


Source: American Customer Satisfaction Index


Some questions organizations should ask themselves:


  • Is there consistency between the density of the systems (the amount of information we collect) and our product/service offering? Does it make sense to collect data that we do nothing with?

  • To what extent is this knowledge related to our business strategy?

  • Is our CX Analytics knowledge, is it information, or just data? Do the various areas talk to each other to draw conclusions as a team?

  • Does the result of what is done in terms of knowing the customer, have its complement in the way in which the production and delivery of the product and service are carried out?

  • Is digitization being used to improve the customer experience or do we implement the latest apps but don’t make a real change?


Related: Brand Promise And Customer Experience – How To Close The Gap


Humanize relationships with employees

As we already said, one of the biggest losses that AI generates is the lack of contact and the change in interactions. Generating human contact is essential.

Some ideas to humanize relationships at work:


  • Create recognition programs

  • Establish collaborative work processes

  • Design team learning opportunities (workshops, training)


Above all, it is about understanding the people of the organization itself, and not implementing solutions from others that are advertised as successful.


8. Take advantage of the possibilities of AI in HR

Still, artificial intelligence provides numerous benefits that can help HR do its job better.

Some possibilities are:


  • Create organizational structures based on the types of Business Intelligence analysis (descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive)

  • Apply augmented reality to Training and Selection processes

  • Improve workforce predictors (numbers, profiles, times)

  • Use means of understanding people that allow for more rigorous analysis and that do not perpetuate the “game” of percentages presented in PowerPoint


Develop new skills to generate synergy between technology and people

Using digital tools is not the same as thinking digitally. Thinking digitally implies connecting people and technology in real-time to add greater value. Digital thinking completely transforms the business.

To be able to think digitally you need to develop in your people the skills of:


  • Teamwork

  • Systemic thinking

  • Technical capacity


Develop Ethics & Humans policies

If, up to now, you were not concerned about artificial intelligence, perhaps the fact that Elon Musk and more than a thousand experts asked to stop the development of ChatGPT4 as they considered them a risk to humanity, may have raised an alert for you.

In an interesting interview with Juan Gustavo Corvalán, Director of the AI Laboratory at the University of Buenos Aires, he states that the greatest risk of artificial intelligence is that, by appropriating human language, it is capable of creating cultural frameworks. “Almost all technologies have replaced human capabilities, but this one aims to replace cognitive ability. Are we prepared for systems whose creators do not understand what they do or how they do it? Are we willing to automate almost everything that a homo sapiens does?” asks the technologist.

Today the page is almost blank on certain issues such as ethics, data security, the difference between knowledge and information, and legal loopholes. It is transcendental that these enter into discussion and start being regulated. As an HR manager, we highly recommend you start by developing your own Ethics and Human policies.


Conclusion

ChatGPT and artificial intelligence are already a reality. We can debate its pros and cons, but the truth is that today it is already among us and has been widely adopted.

Is AI here to stay? Probably yes, but people also said that about the CD!

The truth is that we do not know what the future holds. But the important thing is not what ChatGPT4 does today, but what will emerge next, what it allows us to do, and the new possibilities and paths that it opens.

The only thing that will remain constant – and of that we are sure – is change. Whatever happens, change management models are here to stay.

Organizations must focus on understanding how technologies impact them, adopting tools that empower talent, and getting people to learn how to learn (faster and better than machines).

In summary, we want to highlight two takeaways:


  1. It doesn’t matter if it’s time or not to make big changes. What cannot be postponed is analyzing the impact that digitization could have on the organization and preparing for it.

  2. Digitization is not just an operational issue. Policies and processes, especially analysis and decision-making – usually considered more typical of leadership, management, and direction levels – will be equally impacted.


Post Script

We still have some questions that are worth exploring (perhaps another time):


  • How will AI impact education? Who will teach the next generations? Teachers who understand less about digitization than students?

  • Are governments working toward going digital?

  • Where will organizations find talent with the new set of skills that are needed?

 

For now, we just want to emphasize the need for HR functions to step up and understand that this change will first and foremost be cultural.


Authors: Carlos Lucena, Raúl Molteni, and Paula Graziani

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