Welcome to PeopleTech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. I’m Mark Feffer. My guest today is Geri Morgan. She’s the Chief People Officer at Intellum. Their LMS helps companies create and manage learning programs for their employees, customers, and partners. We’ll talk about the rush to create AI-based solutions, how technology is changing the work of HR practitioners and HR in general. All on this edition of PeopleTech.
Hi, Geri. Welcome. Let me start with a high level question. What are your thoughts about this whole rush to AI that we’re seeing now? It seems like an awful lot of companies are suddenly kicking solutions out into the market. It’s kind of weird. What do you think?
I completely agree. There’s a flood of information. My inbox is piling up. Every day more and more vendors are highlighting the use cases that AI is offering, but I’m of the opinion that I’m embracing it. I’m cautiously embracing it though. I think that the risk-reward needs to be carefully considered, but it’s an exciting time for business transformation.
Especially for those that are working in the HR space, this is going to give us an opportunity to spend more time with the humans, which our jobs unfortunately not always had the right amount of time dedicated to that priority within our function. I think that the AI-based solutions are going to free us up to spend more time creating personal relationships versus doing some of the task follow-up where we find ourselves spending a lot of our time these days.
What do you think the impact is going to be on learning in general, but also on Intellum in particular? When I say Intellum, I mean your products to start.
Sure. Yeah. Intellum’s also looking at how AI can be leveraged with our tool. We have a team that’s working on some exciting stuff that’s dropping later this year, but one thing that we’re particularly cautious about is leveraging AI to complete the education content from scratch. Especially when your audience is employees and you’re geared towards upscaling, there needs to be more involvement and strategic connection to that, but I do believe that learning overall is positioned to greatly benefit from AI use cases.
There’s a lot of great things that can come from trend analysis and skill gaps across the organization. Just like Netflix recommending shows for us, that same application in the learning space, recommending training to continue building on the course that was just completed, helping AI or using AI to help us with grading and rating of assessments and providing realtime feedback in some content learning courses.
Imagine a communication course or a presentation course and you’re delivering the presentation and you’re able to get some real-time feedback and skill assessment by leveraging AI within that, or even routing us training based off of our individual learning preferences and styles, or what our career path is and what those career objectives are. I think there’s a lot of exciting application within the learning space. One example at Intellum is our reputation based gamification. It’s based on reputation, not just the completion of the course content.
We’re not just rewarding learners with badges or certificates because you completed the course. It’s rewarding learners with badges or certificates because of your skill level and mastery of that skill level. That further support strategies like employee engagement, growth and development, your succession planning, all with more objective based assessments on where that skill level is today.
Now what about on the backend? Are you folks looking at the technology for inclusion into your products to give products new capabilities or anything like that?
In terms of our integration with other products, that is something that we’re looking at and exploring. We don’t have any partnerships that we’re going to be announcing in the next couple of weeks, but it is something that we’re always working on to see how we can improve efficiency, as well as quality.
Let me ask a slightly wider question, which is about HR in general. Obviously AI is going to have an impact. What do you think it’s going to do over say the next five years? How is it going to change the whole function?
Yeah, that’s hard to predict at this point, but I am pretty confident in knowing that our workflows are going to be streamlined thanks to AI. We’ll be moving away from those routine things that we focused on and allow us to spend more time on the people side. Today, we’re already seeing use of AI to help us with things like creating outlines and structure, things like meeting agendas, taking notes, job description templates, even basic org design, org structure, internal communications, all of that is helping to make us more efficient and create more capacity within what we do.
There’s also going to be value and benefit from a research purpose. Identifying the best sources for various topics versus maybe some of the other criteria that Google’s using today. But the power here is going to be all on the prompt. Really encouraging prompt development, skill development on this, as well as asking for the source. That’s really highly important. But AI is also going to help us summarize information.
It’s that trending and analytical work that’s going to take survey data, text information like 360 reviews, engagement surveys, and quickly decipher those top strengths or weaknesses of a person or a team, and taking away some of that time from us to allow us to have more speedy insights and dive into action planning and solutioning so that we’re able to move quicker. You also see the same application outside of the HR space. In call center areas, you’re able to get analysis on top reasons for calls or customer sentiment following net promoter surveys.
In general, I think we’re all going to be more efficient and be able to have quicker impact on driving positive change within the business based off of what we’re listening and learning through various data analysis. I think that’s also going to evolve us as workers, just like COVID did. We need to be thinking about better skill planning for the future as employers and HR teams.
We need to start future skilling our workforce and acknowledge that there are some fears today, but thinking about what that future state is and being change agents to help lead our organizations, lead our employees through this.
One of the things that the industry, the people pushing AI products like to talk about is that the AI technology is going to streamline work so that HR practitioners and other professionals, they don’t have to do as much grunt work. They can do more strategic work, deeper work. I suppose it strikes me that that’s probably true on paper, but I wonder if you think that’ll translate into practice.
Do you see the technology really changing the way that these folks approach their work, and do you think employers will really give them the extra time they need to do more things, or are they just going to lay a bunch of people off?
I believe that it’s going to help us be more efficient and automate some of the work so we can focus on other types of tasks. We’re from a people and culture standpoint. I think this is a great opportunity to work with our organization and identify the things that people love to do so they can spend more time on that and less on the time that could be done with AI. Less time on those mundane tasks and more time on the critical thinking, strategic thinking, and focusing on advising, especially in the HR space, across the employee experience.
It is going to free up that capacity for consulting, strategic planning, and innovation in the job functions, which will require us to shift our skills. I don’t believe it’s necessarily going to eliminate positions, but the skills and talents will need to change and everyone’s going to focus more big picture and approaching situations. We’re mindful in balancing local regulations and compliance regulations as they develop, because we’re going to have to carefully watch this and see where AI restrictions come into play that we need to be mindful of.
But embracing the change is something that we all need to do. I think the future state for us is going to feel like we’re doing less because we’re so used to having a million tasks, this overwhelming checklist of things to complete, and our future workload is going to be more conversations than action. It’s going to be more about advice than the administrative work, more about what’s in our head than what our hands are doing.
The best companies are going to provide more avenues for personal and professional growth and establishing meaningful goals for AI integration from an operational perspective.
Now, you touched on this a little bit earlier, but I’d like to ask a more focused question. It seems to me at the same time that AI is making HR’s life a little easier. It can also complicate it in terms of compliance. Do I have that right?
Absolutely, yeah. AI is not all rainbows and butterflies. We’re going to need to consider the ethics and compliance issues. AI is known to create bias across various groups, gender, race, disability. Really being cautious about how we’re using it in performance management and merit increased allocations and the data that we’re feeding into the tool is biased. Also, security is a big issue. Will personal information be exposed, or customer information, proprietary information?
Being very cautious about how we’re using AI and what types of information that we’re feeding into these external systems. Still too new to know where things are going to fall on land, but the IP related to the creative outputs that we’re using AI to help us generate. The lower risk areas are where we’re starting first, processes like the administrative tasks. We’re saying use technology for tasks or tech for tasks is how we’re thinking about things initially. Just remembering to prompt carefully.
I think last week Fortune released an article about ChatGPT. It went from a 98% accuracy of answering a simple math problem to 2% accuracy and all around how questions were being presented. And then I think last week there was also a lawyer who cited two cases that didn’t even exist. Making sure we check our sources. Ultimately, as we expand our policies and incorporate AI into the work that we do, we’re going to need to develop standards. We just expanded our technology and acceptable use policy to include AI use.
One big point that we’re emphasizing there is reviewing and auditing the work that is generated through AI and being careful because at the end of the day, it’s still a representation of our quality of work if you’re in a customer facing role or the company and our brand.
I want to shift gears a little bit. The wider business landscape is interesting right now. Actually it’s kind of weird right now. I mean, there’s back and forth about a recession, inflation, the state of the labor market, all of these things percolating. From your perspective, what should CHROs be most concerned about right now?
I think with all of the shift and changes, people in our space and HR, people in culture should be focused I think first and foremost on change management. That’s such a big broad area to be focusing on. If you were part of a layoff or reduction within organization, you have surviving employee support that needs to be impacted. This is all around us. News and media, it’s hard to step away from some of the things that you just mentioned.
Improving communication within the change management scope and being transparent as much as possible to help create trust and confidence within the organization. There’s the things that we can control and then the things that are outside of our control. Really focusing on those things that we can control around internal communication, messaging, and what the change plan is to support people in these moments of change if your organization is currently experiencing something like this.
We’re doing things like increasing the frequency of our all hands meetings, having more intentional team gatherings, employee engagement posts, threads and challenges just to bring people together and strengthen that community. Also, having open office hours so people can bring questions to you and more accessibility across the C-suite will help with those change management efforts. This is ultimately going to lead to better employee retention, which is another area that our profession is focused on right now, it’s retention of those key employees that we have to be top of mind for us.
Those tenured employees that have the context and the history, the industry experience, we have to make sure that we have strategies in place that positively influence retention. Those areas are looking at your comp and benefits programs, making sure that our practices support employee well-being and evaluating our talent management strategies with an emphasis on workforce development. I think diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging initiatives should be also top of mind.
Qualtrics just recently released a great article on best practices for creating an inclusive workplace, and I really appreciated some of the techniques that Airbnb have integrated into their culture. Just continuing to make progress and being mindful of those inclusivity goals and establishing a strategy around that would be another recommendation for things that we’re focused on. I think the best employers are spending time improving their culture in these areas.
The pandemic gave CHROs a lot more visibility than they had, and supposedly they’ve also got more influence than they did. I’m wondering what your experience has been. Have the dynamics of your job changed since the pandemic?
I agree with that. Our function was looked to as the business leader to help respond and navigate during COVID, and I don’t see that seat at the table going away. We’re proving that the power of what our function can do and how it can activate an organization and improve business results when we focus on people and culture initiatives. The bottom line is improving that transformational innovation and growth is possible when you have a passionate and highly engaged team.
That’s where we’re adding value and helping to connect to those dots with people across the business, being ready, willing and able to support the growth strategy. Tasks, where I’m spending my time is more on the executive and operational advising. Our role is very much more growth minded and transformational than in the past where it was more compliance or policy focused. This is a really great time to be working in the HR space.
There’s been an increased expectation for us to play the role of business transformation agents, growth catalysts. It’s really pushing me to spend more time on enhancing my overall business acumen, understanding finance, technology, and business operations because I’m in conversations where I’m advising these team members and helping to evolve the next level of people practices looking more strategically across the organization.
Geri, thank you very much. It was great to talk with you, and I appreciate your stopping by. I hope we’ll talk again.
Great. Yeah, great to meet you, Mark. Thank you.
My guest today has been Geri Morgan, the Chief People Officer at Intellum. This has been PeopleTech, the podcast of the HCM Technology Report. We’re a publication of RecruitingDaily. We’re also a part of Evergreen Podcasts. To see all of their programs, visit www.evergreenpodcasts.com. And to keep up with HR Technology, visit the HCM Technology Report every day. We’re the most trusted source of news in the HR tech industry. Find us at www.hcmtechnologyreport.com. I’m Mark Feffer.