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02 Nov 2023

Guest blog: Generative AI in HR

Guest blog: Generative AI in HR

Sonia Rai, Director of Nectar HR Limited, explores the future of generative AI in HR and what organisations need to consider.

There has been a lot of coverage on AI in the last few months – in particular generative AI such as ChatGPT and Google Bard. But is generative AI something we really need to think about?

A recent study by Asana’s Work Innovation Lab showed that the UK is lagging behind the US, with 46% of US office workers now using AI at least once a week, compared with 29% in the UK. In the same study, 30% of UK office workers believed that they would be seen as lazy if they used AI at work, compared with 20% of US office workers. (Software company Asana’s Work Innovation Lab into The State of AI at Work July 2023, HR Magazine, Dominic Bernard 29 August 2023.)

I, however, believe that AI's position in the UK will change. Generative AI such as ChatGPT is globally accessible – anyone can use it and you don’t have to be tech savvy. ChatGPT currently has 100 million users, and its website receives about 1.6 billion visitors per month. These are astounding statistics for a product that was launched less than a year ago on 20th November 2022.

Leaders need to explore what generative AI opportunities exist to support their business and assess the impact that generative AI, which is now accessible to everyone, is having on their workforce and productivity.

Where are the opportunities for generative AI in HR?

Generative AI can be utilised in a number of areas in HR, such as:

  • Sourcing talent – Generative AI can support the recruitment process by drafting job descriptions for hiring managers and carrying out the first sift of applications.
  • On-boarding – Generative AI can support the induction process by immediately answering questions that new employees have, rather than waiting for an answer from co-workers or a specific team.
  • Performance management – Generative AI can support managers by compiling different performance review data, so they can spend more time reviewing details of what their employees have achieved.
  • Learning and development - Generative AI can use your employee data to create different iterations of succession plans. It can also support employees with their own career planning.

When looking at opportunities with generative AI, you need to be aware that there are also risks. As humans we are biased, and this bias can be transferred to generative AI. For example, if you are sifting candidates and the criteria is not well defined or is based on the hiring manager's bias, this will impact your candidate shortlist.

Speaking at a Trades Union Congress conference in April 2023, Labour MP Chi Onwurah warned that AI can perpetuate discrimination if the data it is based on is not reviewed. Onwurah said: “AI is seen as very convenient because it can automate so many processes... but it can also automate racism, sexism and exploitation. Technology is not neutral, its direction is determined by those driving and governing it, as well as the data it is based upon." (HR Magazine, Millicent Machell 9 October 2023).

There have been clear examples of generative AI discriminating against those with protected characteristics in the recruitment process. This is a red flag for employers, and something we would encourage all organisations to research in more detail when looking at generative AI options.

How could generative AI be impacting your business now and what should you do about it?

The reality is that generative AI is here to stay, and your employees may well be using AI at work already.

As leaders you need to be proactive. Consider where your business stands on its employees using generative AI such as ChatGPT or Google Bard to carry out their work. Assess the risks to your business, engage with your employees to understand whether they have been using generative AI, and communicate your position on generative AI to them.

When assessing the risk to your business, carry out a policy review. What does your IT policy currently say about accessing generative AI on work systems? Is your data privacy policy up to date? Is using generative AI to carry out work acceptable, or does your discipline policy need to be updated? Would generative AI be considered a reasonable adjustment in your sickness or capability policy?

We would advise a review of how AI is being used in your workplace and careful consideration of what steps you would like to take to ensure your organisation is not being left behind. Do your staff know whether they can use Chat GPT or not? If it isn't something you want to encourage, how has this been communicated and have you updated the right policies?

The world of AI is here to stay, and as responsible employers, we would advise asking the right questions now – rather than finding yourself in a situation where you do not have a fair and legal process on how you need to move forward.




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