HomeFuture of WorkAIRemove risk, reap rewards: AI best practices from CLOs, CHROs, and CEOs

Remove risk, reap rewards: AI best practices from CLOs, CHROs, and CEOs

  • 6 Min Read

Adam Hickman, Ph.D., Vice President of Learning, Org Development, and Cast Members at Partners a Walt Disney Company, hears from C-Suite executives on how to reap the rewards of AI including labor productivity without neglecting the risk

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There is no debate that AI best practices and solutions can speed processes, which will boost productivity and with it, GDP. McKinsey reports that generative AI could enhance labor productivity growth of 0.1 to 0.6 percent annually through 2040, and when combined with AI with other technologies, workplace automation could add 0.2 to 3.3 percent to annual GDP growth. The most significant lift that McKinsey sees involves customer operations, marketing and sales, software engineering, and R&D.

However, any department with the word human in the title is consistently considered a function that AI could improve. There is real potential that, without intervention from HR, People, and L&D leaders, AI will replace positions or people. The risk is real.

In a two-part study of AI in HR, I begin by presenting findings from C-Suite executives and HR leaders, before drawing on their analysis to provide a recommendation for harmonious AI adoption that both drives productivity and works with, not against, our employees.

AI best practices: The risk of human replacement

A 2023 Gallup poll of CHROs of 135 Fortune 500 companies asked two questions:

1) “Do you see AI replacing jobs at your organization in the next 12 months?”

2) “Do you see AI replacing jobs at your organization in the next 3 years?”

Two-thirds of CHROs said no in the next 12 months but almost three-quarters (72%) said yes in the next three years.

Meanwhile, a recent Gallup poll reports that when asked, “How prevalent is AI usage at work in the U.S.,” only 1 in 10 employees use AI at least weekly and 7 in 10 employees never use AI.

This clearly indicates that AI and HR have a joint relationship. Crucially, HR has work to do to make sure organizations use AI in harmony with workers, rather than replacing them outright.

What AI best practices do our organization’s leaders recommend?

I initiated a dialogue with fellow leaders to understand HR and AI landscape further, aiming to glean deeper insights into the prevailing sentiments and AI best practices among prominent leaders.

Below is a summation of each perspective:

Angela Cheng-Cimini, SVP, Talent & CHRO at Harvard Business Review

Angela, an experienced voice in HR, emphasizes caution and strategic timing when integrating AI practices into the IT industry. She underscores the importance of aligning AI adoption with the overarching purpose of the business and recommends incorporating AI as a calculated move for organizations running lean operations.

She says we should see AI as a supplementary enhancement to existing processes rather than a mere response to industry trends. Angela’s perspective highlights the need to avoid jumping on the AI bandwagon solely due to its current hype. She stresses the necessity of evaluating whether AI is a genuine need, as blind adoption without a clear rationale can lead to misalignment with business objectives and inefficient resource allocation.

Angela’s AI best practices reinforce the importance of a measured and purpose-driven approach in harnessing the power of AI within the HR sector. In short, a desire for AI does not always warrant a need.

Bryce Veon, CEO at AutoSoft

Bryce has observed a discernible trend, that is, the use of AI in business practices, which underlines the symbiotic relationship between companies and AI-driven robotic systems.

His firm conviction is that AI exhibits its utmost utility in domains where human cognitive biases can potentially jeopardize decision-making processes. He noted that technological frameworks can meticulously gauge performance metrics, facilitating the formulation of autonomous scheduling paradigms and innovative approaches to task execution.

However, he says that a company’s fundamental principles should intricately guide the interface between automated technologies and human involvement, particularly in contexts that demand a nuanced human touch. His perspective underscores the imperative of harmonizing artificial intelligence with human-centric values to achieve operational efficacy with customers via the human experience.

Hillary Miller, Chief Learning Officer at Penn State Health

Adopting AI is not a distant future scenario — it is already here in various sectors – and Hillary warns that organizations that hesitate to embrace AI risk falling behind, as these advancements decrease expenditures and enhance customer interactions. Hillary believes that integrating AI should run parallel to traditional services to streamline processes and increase efficiency.

OD consultants, for instance, can leverage AI to focus more on client relations, reducing time spent on administrative tasks. Instructional designers can use AI to manage time-consuming task-driven work, freeing them up for meaningful dialogue and interaction.

Similarly, HR business processes will soon harness AI for administrative responsibilities to foster better client engagements. Hillary believes, however, that to fully realize the potential of AI, organizations need a cultural shift in mindset—people need to trust in the capabilities of AI and view it not as a replacement but as a partner.

Maryna Melnik, Head of L&D at DataArt

Maryna shared that in the dynamic landscape of the IT industry, unique best practices have emerged that cater to professionals’ ever-curious minds. Integrating AI-driven solutions into various IT operations has become the norm.

A recent noteworthy addition is ChatGPT, an innovative tool that facilitates customized learning pathways, seamlessly blending human attributes like purpose, goals, intuition, ethics, and empathy with ChatGPT’s capabilities.

In less than a year, ChatGPT has been enhancing IT workflows — professionals are using it and other generative AI to create emails, learning guides, campaigns, course materials, scripts, and the formulation of precise instructions for AI operations. It is crucial to note that human involvement remains irreplaceable, as their expertise and presence continue to be an integral aspect of the HR realm.

Mark Mathia, Chief Experience Officer at Signature Performance

The HR and Talent Management domain has always faced the challenge of balancing the day-to-day versus investing in strategy and more complex problems. The problem is not the lack of human capital, Mark says, but the lack of time to be more forward-thinking.

AI and other emerging tech can help HR leaders focus on high-value activities and engage with people on critical issues rather than just addressing routine tasks and requests. They can, in essence, do less but better.

In fact, Mark believes that by leveraging technology such as AI, HR and Talent leaders can unlock a new level of productivity and efficiency while enhancing their ability to connect with associates and deepen relationships, support, and trust.

Up next: Three AI best practices to remember

Collectively, these leaders underline a balanced, purpose-driven AI adoption that amplifies human strengths while ensuring alignment with core business values.

On balance, their view is to aim AI with precision and scale how you personalize its use. Employees in the U.S. are still unsure about AI and require support and training to know when, how, and why to use AI to automate and increase the productivity of their work.

In the second part of this article, I provide more detail on three fundamental pillars for AI adoption in HR:

  1. Knowing your all-stars are humans, never bots
  2. Using AI to reduce administrative friction
  3. Anchoring your AI strategy in core values
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