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What HR Needs To Know About Generative AI

Since Generative AI exploded onto the scene in a big way, within Spotify HR, we’ve  been learning as much as we can about this new technology and reflecting on how it will impact our business, our people, and the wider HR industry. We have embraced this technology, with examples such as creating internal innovative HR tech platforms such as Bounce and Disco. From a business perspective, the creation of Spotify DJ has taken generative AI to the next level within the audio space. 

The first thing to note is the speed at which the likes of technology such as ChatGPT have been adopted. Unlike other emerging technologies that have taken time to create an impact in the workplace, Generative AI seems to have taken us by storm overnight. Consider this – when the mobile phone was invented, it took 16 years until there were 100 million mobile phone users. It took ChatGPT 3 months to reach the same milestone. See what I mean?!

With this kind of explosive speed, we need to make sure we (HR professionals), and the rest of the business are well enough prepared  to embrace changes that this technology will have on the workplace. And successfully embracing, or managing change means first and foremost, having the right mindset. 

Generative AI Means Efficiency, Not Layoffs

Interestingly, the most popular reaction to generative AI that we’ve heard from our fellow HR professionals is that of fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of how this technology will replace jobs which will lead to more layoffs. Fear that the human element of HR will be lost. And while of course it is human nature to fear the unknown, we encourage HR and business leaders to not fear this unknown technology, but embrace it with a growth mindset.  

The first step in doing this is by demystifying the stereotype that AI will create massive job losses. In almost any situation, leaders are much more likely to choose the route of increasing employee productivity over reducing headcount if there is a scenario where savings can be made. Most leaders have the hope and intent to leverage technology to help us become more efficient, especially when it comes to time (which many would agree is the most important commodity of all). So let’s have AI take care of the everyday mundane tasks that suck up our time but add very little impact. Everything from scheduling meetings, writing emails, submitting expense reports, daily admin, etc. has the potential to be done via AI. We all know how much time these tasks take up our day. Imagine if we can get that time back to focus on team building, leadership, cross functional collaboration, relationship building, mentoring, and most importantly, exercising the creative side of our brain a bit more to unlock more potential and possibilities to grow your business, teams and culture. 

Tangible Focus Areas For HR And Business Leaders

Now let’s talk about the more tangible focus areas that we as HR and business leaders should be focusing on in preparation for AI. And the beauty of these tangible focus areas is that it is nothing new. It is actually the bread and butter of what we as HR leaders have always focused on…only with an AI twist. 

  1. Leadership Development Preparation 

Leaders and managers need to be prepared for employee productivity to increase. This will mean leaders and managers will need to spend more time with their teams to ensure that this increased productivity is channeled in the right strategic direction of the business. The key focus here is that managers will need even more focus on being a role model, fostering trust, promoting diversity and inclusion, and ensuring that they’re creating a respectful, healthy and safe environment to spark collaboration and innovation amongst their teams. If AI  frees up time for employees, then managers will need to be there to lead and guide their employees on how they use that free time in the best way possible. 

  1. Fostering A Culture Of Learning And Growth

It’s inevitable that the integration of AI within the workplace will mean that employees need to learn new skills. However, before we all jump ahead and start imagining the skills that will be needed, it’s imperative not to skip a really important step: fostering a culture of learning. And when developing a skill-setting culture, we believe that we must demystify the expectations of what traditional career development looks like for employees. 

At Spotify, growth is our mantra and we expect employees to be self driven, ready to take control of their own development and to reach their full potential. For us the focus is not on promotions or a shiny new title, but instead the focus is on providing band members with the necessary skills, knowledge, and tools to improve their craft, regardless of what part of the business they are in. To achieve a situation where employees are ready to expand their skills and learn new ones when they join a company, the culture must have a strong emphasis on learning and growing. 

When employees are encouraged to develop their passions and improve their skill set, a career becomes more than vertical growth in a specific role, and impactful purpose-driven engagement is created. We know this strategy works when we start seeing our people internally move from one role to a very different role in a completely new business vertical or industry.

  1. Get Comfortable With Change Management: 

Let’s be honest. People hate change. Even HR leaders (who have been trained to embrace, cultivate and shepherd change management) recognise that our initial instinct is to resist change.  With the fast paced growth of AI, change within our organizations is inevitable,so we need to sharpen our skills around managing change for our people in a way that is constructive and healthy. This may include focusing on improving communication skills, increasing transparency and building trust within your organizations. This takes time and more importantly this takes human connection to do. Something that AI can never replicate or replace. 

Empathy, Vulnerability And Compassion

A question that will help guide us on how this new technology will impact our business, our people and our profession is:  how do we embrace and use AI in our role as HR leaders to be more HUMAN to our people? Remember, while AI can do some pretty incredible things, AI will never be able to treat people with empathy, vulnerability, and compassion. These are the skillsets and characteristics that will define what makes a great manager and leader. So let’s use AI to do the boring, mundane, repetitive tasks that keep us handcuffed to our desks, and use that free time to walk the floor, talk to our employees, ask how they are doing, and really get to know what drives and motivated them. 

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