Generative AI and the Future Workforce

I've been meeting with a lot of people leaders recently to help better understand their future workforce needs. Their needs and concerns usually fall under one of these themes:

  1. We have too much work to do.
  2. We need more people.

As a career L&D and HR Professional, I find this to be a common scenario and very much based on a perception of truth from leaders. Businesses are running quickly, scaling for growth, driving execution, and the to-do lists never end. The seemingly logical solution is to throw more people at the problem.

Although this approach might appear to be a good short-term solution, it does not consider the holistic nature of what is being asked of the teams, how the teams work, the processes and systems in place, and the strategic and financial needs of the organization. It is also a missed opportunity to assess how current teams are working, skill gaps and challenges they face, and opportunities for optimization and development. To add a cliché—our role as people leaders is to support our operational leaders in enabling our teams to work smarter, not harder!   

While these challenges are not new, the approaches to tackling them are dramatically shifting with the evolution of generative AI. As an avid one-year user of ChatGPT, which is in mid-implementation of its enterprise solution here at Blanchard, I could not be more excited for the future of AI work tools and their ability to empower employees and leaders in their roles. I am not a fortune teller, but from my experience, the doomsday predictions of AI taking jobs from workers couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that platforms like ChatGPT, when people are trained to use them properly, are the rocket to productivity that many managers have no idea their team needs. Here's an example.

In order for my HR team to partner with a leader to bring on a new role in the organization, a job description must be created. This is not a complicated process, but it does require the hiring manager and the HR partner to first have a thorough understanding of the expectations of the role and then take the time to articulate those expectations into a job description. This typically takes about two hours with back-and-forth review—but because the task is not seen as a preferred use of time for operational leaders, it's often rushed or it falls victim to procrastination. The process gets delayed, and, as a result, HR partners are left editing and updating a role without a clear understanding of the role specifics.

Adding an AI tool such as ChatGPT Enterprise into this process immediately improves efficiency and quality. Here's how: An operational leader can spend between two and five minutes talking to ChatGPT in their own words, not needing to worry about clarity of writing, and the system generates a well-written, professionally toned job description.

From there, the leader may spend a few minutes reviewing and fine-tuning the job description before sending it to their HR partner, who in turn takes five to ten minutes to review and approve it. A two-hour process now takes about twenty minutes. Multiply that time savings across the many mundane tasks across our roles (e.g., client research, deck outlines, meeting agendas) and you can see the value of generative AI to improve your and your team's ability to make space for high-level creative and strategic work.

Taking it one step further, GPT features can streamline process and information efficiencies by remembering key information, input, or data, which gives teams the ability to share their efficiency tools across the organization. Now your team is resourced and evaluating the process to make space for higher level work, versus throwing more hires at the problem.

Not just for large organizations

You might be thinking “This sounds great, but only big companies with big budgets can tackle this.” Or maybe “How would I even begin to make a case for bringing this into my organization and making it useful?” The beauty of generative AI is that accessibility is high—and, with proper planning, you can enable your teams to use it to work smarter and develop in their roles. Here are some ways to get started.   

  1. Begin with curiosity and awareness of the risks. There are thousands of generative AI tools on the market, with new tools launching every day. Find your best medium to learn about trends in the industry and begin experimenting with free or low-cost tools.

One caution: Make sure you understand the data privacy and security risks of working with any generative AI tool. Never input any personal or company information into tools that are not authorized as part of your organization's approved toolkit. Instead, experiment while keeping things vague and pushing the limits of the tasks you want the tool to tackle.

  1. Build your business case around the needs of your organization. Determining the pain points, evaluating multiple solutions, and requesting funds to launch a pilot program are a great place to start.
  2. Drive engagement and enablement. You have people in your organization who will jump at the opportunity to champion an initiative like generative AI—and you will have others who run from it. Find your champions in the organization and bring them together to lead adoption efforts across departments. Ask them to serve as a feedback loop for how teams are interacting with the tool. Celebrate and highlight success stories and learning opportunities to continue to drive momentum and discovery.

Just like the computer and the cellphone, generative AI is here to stay. How you embrace it and build a growth mindset within your organizational culture will be the differentiator between you and other organizations, and it will influence the impact your teams will have. Keep your mind open to the benefits of generative AI and its possibilities of positive change for you, your team, and your organization!


Editor’s Note:

Would you like to learn more about AI applications for learning and development? Download our free eBook, An HR / L&D Primer on Generative AI. You’ll find this post, together with five other perspectives from Blanchard thought leaders exploring the challenges leadership, learning, and talent development professionals are facing in today’s changing environment. Use this link to download your complimentary copy now.


About the Author

Ashley Vevoda

Ashley Vevoda is VP, Organizational Excellence at Blanchard. In this role, Ashley leads efforts to enhance culture, performance, efficiency, and internal innovation. She promotes a data-driven, collaborative environment, streamlines workflows, and optimizes technology for cost-effective productivity. Ashley supports career development, employee well-being, and integrating sustainability and DEI into operations.

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