GenAI in HR: From Buzzword to Business Strategy

Generation AI (GenAI) continues to revolutionise human resources, with its integration becoming increasingly central across various HR domains from talent acquisition to employee well-being. Organisations are exploring AI-driven technologies to streamline operations and enhance productivity throughout the employee lifecycle.

Amidst these advancements, HR leaders face the critical challenge of distinguishing between fleeting trends and impactful strategies. 

Recently, People Matters hosted a LinkedIn Live session featuring industry leaders to discuss GenAI in HR: From Buzzword to Business Strategy.

Speakers included Meenakshi Cornelius, Head of HR India, Sri Lanka, Mauritius & Bangladesh, JLL India, Vikram Tandon, advisor to Chairman at Adani, and Sachin Khurana, Chief People Officer at Happiest Minds Technologies, moderated by Cheshta Dora, Head of Research & Community at People Matters.

This year, People Matters’ Tech HR India 2024 aims to facilitate meaningful discussions and action-oriented insights with over 2500 HR and business leaders, 100 partners, and 150 global speakers across 80 sessions. The session focused on delving into key questions surrounding the implementation of generative AI, emphasising the need for clear, actionable roadmaps and strategies to maximise its potential in data management and functional efficiency.

The Importance of Assessing Organisational Readiness for Gen AI Integration

Vikram Tandon opened the discussion by sharing that while generative AI is increasingly prevalent in various aspects of our lives, including work and home environments, its adoption remains relatively slow and fragmented. This can be attributed to several factors that pose challenges rather than outright roadblocks.

One significant hurdle is the maturity of the AI models and the alignment of their outputs with organisational policies, which are still being clarified. Culturally, there is apprehension and fear regarding AI’s impact on job security, despite its potential as a powerful enabler that enhances productivity and efficiency. 

At Adani, for instance, they have implemented Microsoft’s co-pilot featuring ChatGPT, observing its utility in presentations and email summaries. To fully leverage generative AI, organisations must cultivate a culture that encourages experimentation and innovation without fear of failure. 

Moreover, a broader perspective is needed where AI is seen as a tool that empowers employees by freeing up time and enhancing their capabilities. Prioritising employee-centricity in AI adoption can drive efficiency gains while simultaneously enriching employee experiences, and aligning organisational goals with individual well-being.

When considering the readiness for implementing generative AI, Meenakshi Cornelius emphasises several critical factors. Reflecting on historical shifts from the industrial to the information age, and now into what is termed the intelligence age, she notes a significant shift in the availability of talent. Unlike the abundance of talent in previous eras, today’s challenge lies in the scarcity of skilled workers. 

Companies poised to excel in productivity are increasingly turning to technologies like generative AI to gain a competitive advantage. Meenakshi underscores the importance of assessing organisational infrastructure and compatibility with new technologies without compromising data privacy or security. She stresses the necessity of robust change management strategies to navigate the cultural shifts associated with AI adoption. 

Moreover, research indicates challenges in upskilling existing workforce segments, suggesting a need for strategic planning to integrate new generations of talent effectively. HR and business leaders must evaluate their organisation’s readiness and willingness to embrace technological advancements while ensuring inclusive and supportive transitions.

How HR Leaders Can Ensure Gen AI Drives Meaningful Impact on Employee Experience and Organisational Performance

Sachin highlights how AI can enhance communication in performance reviews by creating different profiles for team members. This allows managers to tailor discussions to meet individual needs and goals, improving feedback and development. In HR, it’s crucial to educate board members and executives on integrating AI into operations. This ensures HR can effectively manage talent, develop strategies, and enhance performance outcomes amid technological shifts.

Various tools and technologies have significantly impacted different aspects of operations, yet Gen AI stands apart as a transformative force. Unlike specific tools such as ATS or HRMS, Gen AI transcends these categories by integrating into every facet of organisational interaction. 

For instance, roles like listening champions are emerging where the sole objective is to support individuals during challenging times. When someone expresses dissatisfaction or personal issues affecting work, these champions facilitate meaningful dialogue. 

Gen AI plays a crucial role here by deciphering not just what is explicitly said but also uncovering underlying sentiments that may remain unspoken. This ability to understand individuals on a deeper level enhances the effectiveness of these interactions, fostering a more supportive and empathetic workplace environment.

AI empowers organisations to enhance decision-making accuracy across all levels of HR leadership and operations. This adoption is seen as essential, transcending hierarchical structures from top leadership to every employee. It’s not negotiable; rather, it’s akin to using platforms like Facebook and Instagram—an essential tool for interactive engagement. 

The goal is to drive a 20% increase in productivity, achieving more with less time in tasks like drafting emails or creating presentations. Simultaneously, this efficiency frees up resources to focus on strategic conversations and valuable contributions, such as executive summaries and proposals.

However, while productivity gains are crucial, it’s equally vital to foster a culture where employees feel supported and empowered by these tools, ensuring they are at the centre of organisational evolution and success.

It’s crucial to dispel apprehensions and position AI as a powerful facilitator rather than a source of fear. Viewing AI as a co-pilot underscores its role in driving savings, productivity gains, and fostering innovation within organisations. 

Ultimately, everyone strives to excel at work, driven by a natural inclination for achievement. Sachin believes that placing employees at the centre stage is pivotal. This approach mitigates common fears and barriers associated with adopting and managing change. 

By aligning cultural readiness for change as the cornerstone, one can seamlessly integrate new technologies into our daily operations. It’s not merely an option but a progressive necessity. Balancing employee preferences and organisational expectations is a delicate yet critical responsibility for HR leaders. 

Meenakshi emphasises the importance for HR leaders to define clear objectives and goals for integrating Gen AI into HR processes, enhancing employee experiences, and addressing specific pain points. This entails exploring various use cases such as candidate screening, personalised learning, performance analytics, and employee sentiment analysis. 

Pilot projects and proof of concepts are also recommended to evaluate feasibility and effectiveness. Collaboration with AI experts, data scientists, and consultants is essential to leverage best practices and insights beyond organisational boundaries.

The need for HR teams to continuously upskill themselves in AI technologies to drive successful adoption and change management initiatives. Ultimately, the goal is to enhance overall employee experiences using advanced tools and technologies, as Vikram highlighted earlier.

Ensuring Ethical and Responsible Use of Gen AI Technologies in the Workplace

The evolving nature of Gen AI technologies and the imperative for companies to establish robust guardrails. Meenakshi cites incidents where generative AI inadvertently exposed organisational data, underscoring the importance of stringent privacy and data confidentiality measures. 

As with any emerging technology, ensuring governance and ethical standards is paramount, with governments also beginning to consider regulatory frameworks. It was also emphasised that the a need for collaboration between HR and technology teams to mitigate biases and discrimination in AI systems. 

The significance of using representative datasets and regular monitoring is to uphold fairness and accountability. Adherence to The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other data protection regulations is crucial given the potential privacy implications of AI’s extensive use of personal data. Establishing ethical guidelines, and governance models, and conducting regular audits are essential steps for organisations to manage ethical and governance issues effectively.

Ensuring robust governance behind AI implementation is essential to support employee well-being, growth, and organisational aspects effectively. The conversation underscored the importance of a strong governance model and regularly updated guidelines, highlighting the dynamic nature of AI technologies that necessitates continual review and adaptation. 

Vikram emphasised that governance and ethical standards typically follow innovation, citing examples from the FinTech sector where regulatory frameworks evolved in response to experimentation and challenges. Similarly, in the AI domain, regulatory measures are progressively emerging to ensure ethical use and data protection.

For enterprises managing people rather than assets, maintaining inclusivity and fairness in AI applications is paramount. Balancing innovation with governance remains a perpetual challenge, but is essential for fostering responsible AI adoption. As leaders, particularly in HR and data governance roles, there is an increasing responsibility to navigate this evolving landscape and prioritise ethical standards alongside technological advancements.

The Future of HR with GenAI

As Generation AI (GenAI) continues to redefine human resources, the imperative for HR leaders is clear: distinguish between fleeting trends and impactful strategies. Our journey today has illuminated the transformative potential of GenAI across various HR functions, from talent acquisition to employee experience. It’s evident that while the adoption of AI in HR is gaining momentum, challenges remain in ensuring its ethical and effective integration.

To delve deeper into these discussions and gain actionable insights, join us at Tech HR India 2024. Engage with business leaders, partners, and global speakers.

Discover how to harness GenAI to drive sustainable growth, enhance employee experiences, and navigate ethical considerations effectively.

Don’t miss out on shaping the future of HR with GenAI. Register now for Tech HR India 2024. 


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