Generative AI: Exploring Possibilities for Talent Management

Generative artificial intelligence (AI), which refers to the ability of artificial intelligence to create content and make decisions on its own, is having a significant impact on talent management. Susan Gunn and John Hazan, leaders of the Bain Chief People Officer Forum, recently conducted a session with chief human resource officers (CHROs) and chief people officers (CPOs) from different parts of the world to discuss this influence. Here is a summary of their conversation:

Recent developments in generative AI

We can attribute the rapid advancement of generative AI to recent breakthroughs, such as improved performance of graphic processing units (GPUs), new model designs, and the availability of large public data sets. In the future, generative AI will go beyond producing content and will be capable of perceiving, reasoning, and acting independently in various situations. Organizations that actively engage with and embrace these emerging capabilities will have a strong advantage in achieving exceptional organizational performance and success.

According to a recent poll by Bain, 80% of CHROs agreed that generative AI has the potential to revolutionize talent management practices. However, there is a wide range of attitudes toward investing in generative AI. About 61% of respondents are neutral or unlikely to invest in the near future, while 39% report that they are likely to invest. This diversity of opinions indicates the need for further education and exploration of the opportunities and challenges that generative AI presents in the field of talent management.

Generative AI’s impact on talent

Generative AI’s versatile capabilities will potentially affect numerous aspects of talent and have a significant impact on white-collar jobs. We believe that the impact on talent practices can be grouped into three categories: job design, HR practices and jobs, and talent management practices.

Automation of repetitive tasks and the enhancement of human capabilities by generative AI may lead to more efficient and fulfilling roles for employees. However, it will also replace certain jobs, improve others, and create new ones, such as AI researchers and software engineers. Organizations will have the opportunity to completely rethink their operations and reshape their team structures, focusing more on cross-functional collaboration and agile work models.

With the integration of generative AI into various talent processes and tasks, new roles will emerge within HR practices. HR professionals will need to actively engage with and embrace the capabilities of this technology to stay ahead and utilize insights, predict trends, and make data-driven decisions. This will require them to become more strategic and proactive.

Generative AI offers significant opportunities to enhance the employee experience throughout the stages of their journey. By providing personalized and contextually relevant solutions, organizations can create a more engaging and growth-oriented work environment that fosters talent and drives success. With the potential to revolutionize talent management practices, generative AI can create employee copilots to provide personalized career paths. These sample prompts demonstrate how generative AI can be used as part of each phase of an employee’s development:

  • Onboarding: “Create a syllabus for me of useful materials to get up to speed.”
  • Engagement: “Which colleagues would be useful connections for me?”
  • Growth: “Identify available career opportunities in line with my development plan.”
  • Recognition: “Propose a team activity to celebrate our latest milestone.”
  • Support: “Suggest interesting benefits and wellness activities within the company.”
  • Transition: "Recommend resources to help me prepare for my next move."

Ensuring responsible use of generative AI and establishing governance

Assessing and managing the ethical risks associated with AI use can be addressed by developing guidelines and best practices to identify ethical dilemmas and make certain that generative AI aligns with organizational values and societal norms. Adherence to data privacy regulations, such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), is necessary to maintain security and privacy standards and to protect the personal and sensitive data processed by AI systems. 

To fully harness the potential of generative AI in talent management, it is essential to establish a strong governance framework. Clear explanations of how AI systems work, make decisions, and derive insights, as well as defining who holds responsibility for AI’s actions, will provide transparency and accountability. Auditing AI algorithms, training data sets, and use cases can create a foundation from which to develop and implement strategies to minimize biases in AI models and decisions. Ensuring that the data used to train and refine AI models is accurate, representative, and up to date will also help to minimize bias while guaranteeing reliable and effective AI outcomes.

The chief people officer’s role in generative AI governance

The CPO will play a pivotal role in the ethical and responsible deployment of generative AI. They will contribute to the development of governance frameworks, promote transparency and fairness, and foster a culture of responsible AI use within the organization. Collaboration with other stakeholders and ongoing monitoring will be essential to effectively navigate the opportunities and challenges presented by generative AI in talent management.

The CPO will provide leadership and guidance to HR practitioners, ensuring generative AI’s appropriate and effective use within the HR function and among stakeholders. This includes planning for the future workforce, identifying new and important roles that may emerge due to generative AI, and assessing the impact on existing jobs. The CPO will also be responsible for providing employees the necessary development opportunities so they can adapt to their roles’ changing demands in the context of generative AI.


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