CHROs’ Thoughts on Generative AI

Community Blog
Written by Katie O'Reilly

AUGUST 15, 2023

Ready or not, generative AI is here, and business leaders everywhere cannot stop talking about the opportunities and risks of this new technology. Ever since OpenAI released ChatGPT in late 2022, our CHRO community members have been especially eager to learn how it will affect the workforce - so much so that it will be a key agenda item at their upcoming gatherings for the rest of the year. 

With substantial interest in how their peers are addressing generative AI, we decided to survey our CHRO communities to get a pulse on who is using it and their overall thoughts and concerns. Approximately 250 HR executives completed the survey, and the results are surprisingly optimistic.

77% of CHROs report having either a “very positive” or “somewhat positive” outlook on generative AI

Here we are highlighting some of the notable takeaways from CHROs on generative AI and its impact on the future of business.

1. Almost half of HR leaders are using generative AI.

45% of CHROs report using ChatGPT or another AI tool at their organization, and many detailed their experiences. Several HR leaders say they are using generative AI “informally,” “experimentally” or “ad hoc,” while others are jumping right in, adopting it for various use cases. 

Within the people function, one HR leader mentioned, “We’re using it to create job descriptions, job postings, write communications, etc.” Another CHRO shared, “We are about to trial using it for resume review, to generate interview questions and also to prepare job ads.” Across the business, they are utilizing AI to improve productivity for tedious tasks, such as code writing, drafting communications, marketing and research. 

For the 55% of HR leaders not using generative AI at their businesses, security and data privacy are top concerns. One CHRO cited “concerns about how confidential information is managed.” Another stated, “At this time, our organization has made an intentional decision to restrict access to generative AI while the use and associated risk can be evaluated further.” 

Other CHROs believe it is still “too new” to explore, expressed bias and accuracy concerns, or say their company is not advanced enough yet. A few mentioned they are preparing their business to be able to deploy a generative AI strategy, and one stated, “We’re sorting through the guidelines to use it without compromising confidential proprietary information or infringement.”

2. HR leaders see many opportunities for generative AI.

When asked about the short-term opportunities, CHROs had a wide range of responses, and the results indicate HR leaders see generative AI automating redundant tasks and saving time, improving processes and providing insights from analytics quicker.

In the comments, speed was a primary focus. One HR leader remarked, “It can reduce ‘think time’ by creating thought starters or research criteria in seconds vs. hours. I recently used it to build a job description.” Another responded, “It can enable employees to get answers to their questions faster.” Others focused on innovation and productivity.

3. Employees are concerned AI will replace their jobs.

As generative AI makes headlines across news outlets and social media, HR leaders have the most insight into how employees are feeling about the matter. When asked what they think employees are most concerned about in regard to generative AI, the majority of CHROs (60%) said they believe employees worry it will replace their position. Some executives have heard employee concerns about general disruption (15%) or that their roles will change (11%).

Anecdotally, a few HR leaders selected “Other” and shared that they have not heard any concerns. They commented, “Most do not have an understanding of what it is, so therefore, they’re not concerned,” “I have not heard concerns - comments have been positive,” and “I don't think employees realize the broader impact yet.”

CHROs have become accustomed to change over the past few years, and it is encouraging to see how they are responding to this latest wave of technical innovation and disruption. Here is just a sample of comments from HR leaders on the long-term impact of generative AI:

Reinvent how work is done - across all departments and functions.”

Changing job descriptions, expectations and skill requirements.”

It will definitely change the employee composition and not all roles will be retrainable.”

Accelerate doing business and change requirements of current workers and leaders.”

AI has the potential to change every aspect of work and business. Regulation and ethics will be critical.”

Be sure to check out the complete results of our Pulse Survey of 250 CHROs on generative AI and its impact on business, and you can also view the cumulative results of what over 1,100 C-level executives think about generative AI in the infographic here.

Stay on top of the latest trends and mission critical priorities facing CHROs today, and apply to join your local CHRO community.

Katie O’Reilly headshot

Katie O’Reilly

Director, Content at Evanta, a Gartner Company

by CHROs, for CHROs

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