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Generative AI has shown us the art of the possible. Now what? 

The current landscape of Human Resources management is undergoing a profound transformation as organisations strive to navigate the complexities of a ground-breaking emergent innovation: Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI). This revolutionary technology has the potential to reshape the fundamental dynamics of HR leadership, ushering in a new era of employee engagement and operational efficiency.

With all of this happening at once, we’re pleased to share the latest research from our long-term partner Mercer’s Real-Time Insights Survey that ran between June and July of this year. In the commentary below, Kate Bravery, Global Advisory Solutions and Insight Leader at Mercer will take you through the data and implications of GAI and its impact on the HR landscape.

As part of our continued partnership with Mercer, we will also be hosting a one-hour Live Forum that provide you with more of the research together with real-life examples of how Generative AI has and will continue to impact the future of work.

Topic: Fear vs. Reality: Debunking the Myths and Embracing the Potential of Generative AI for HR

Date:   Tuesday 14 November

Time:  10.00am – 11.00am UK | 11.00am -12.00am CET | 2.00 – 3.00pm UAE | 3.30pm – 4.30pm IST | 6.00pm – 7.00pm HKG / SIN

Where: Zoom – Register now to attend

Generative AI (GAI), the latest incarnation of AI, has dominated the airways. But the reality is that most of us are still at a loss as to the impact it will have on our work, working and workforce.

GAI is just one example of a growing trend toward augmented human working. This trend will amplify the voice of humans, benefit from the data management processes we’ve already instituted and will be accelerated through quantum computing. As with so many trends today, this tech cannot be decoupled from new ways of working and the workplace expectations that are coming into our businesses – together they will usher in a world of smart, or at least, smarter working. Ensuring that these tools are skill-enhancing for us all means that we in HR need to ensure that we are putting humans first in our work redesign efforts. Below are four immediate applications that we at Mercer are seeing.

AI will indeed change the work, the workforce and the entire EX — which, in turn, will change the way HR needs to operate. The question for HR today is how can we translate a tech advantage into a human advantage at scale?  Mercer’s latest research shows that just 3% of firms feel fully prepared for this new human-machine hybrid era. So, what are those who are ahead of the game doing differently?   

Generative AI in HR: Recruitment and Internal Communications are First Cabs Off the Rank 

Our research shows that most companies (58%) aim to bring GAI to HR by July 2024 – so planning rather than operating is where we are today. Those that are early adopters are starting with processes that they know best. 29% plan to use it for recruiting, from writing job descriptions to screening applicants. And a further 29% will look to GAI for internal communications such as employee chats and onboarding guides. 

Some of these pioneers seem unphased by the ChatGPT privacy panic. One-in-five hope to manage employee data with it — though we’d hope with their own in-house large language model (LLM), or HR software with GAI built in. And 14% expect ChatGPT to support tasks around talent strategy: planning and skill deployment. For more guidance, check out this article regarding which guardrails to have in place.  

Generative AI in HR: Fuelling Skills-Based Organisations Will Deliver Tremendous Uplift

AI’s assistance in delivering skills-fuelled organisations is one area that is already proving to have impact. This latest incarnation of AI, however, can help make talent identification and deployment much more intuitive — dare I say human.  Today, AI can scrape backgrounds to serve up skills information about candidates and internal talent, it can match people to jobs and recommend career paths, but finding the next right hire or forming that diverse team still takes leg work as information is served in dashboards and look-up tables. GAI can analyse and synthesise data from multiple fronts so you can ask curly questions such as: I need a diverse team, who has exceptional project management and collaboration skills, knows python and has the capacity to contribute 3 days a week for the next 6 months, ideally based in Asia? Questions that, yes, a junior resource can find but not a task that is job-affirming!

Generative AI in HR: Ensuring a Healthy Talent Pipeline is the Other Big Excitement

Another exciting HR use case is GAI’s ability to deliver healthcare savings and improve health and well-being outcomes. It cuts providers’ workload to curb burnout, identifies more effective treatments, and might even drive cost savings through more targeted benefits. The ability to take everything we know about a person and predict health outcomes and nudge them in certain directions to improve their longer-term health has tremendous benefits to both employers and workers. As your organisation explores these opportunities, it will be vital to do so in a way that is responsible, appropriate and transparent. 

Advantages of AI and Automation 

When we look at the advantages of AI, it’s clear that automating tasks (76%) and improving efficiency (77%) are the main reasons for these early experiments. A heartening 66% of employers say that it’s the augmenting of work that is the real upside as they anticipate this will provide more time to focus on more complex tasks. But the real opportunity lies in amplifying intelligence — the opportunity to use these tools in the flow of work and create superheroes not just of HR, but everyone in the firm. Let’s take a closer look.  


Efficiency gains have been GAI’s biggest selling point to date. More than three-quarters of firms expect it to automate repetitive work (77%) and increase efficiency (76%). Those types of gains are more likely to come from robotic process automation (RPA) and the use of software more broadly to perform routine tasks. We’ve seen this in HR already with Rewards and back-end benefit management technology. GAI can automate some work, like writing emails and fielding FAQs, but that’s not where its full potential lies for cognitive automation. Assessing what is repetitive and lends itself to algorithmic interpretation is the next logical step. 


The most exciting impact of GAI is amplified intelligence. While AI is a broad group of technologies that can process data and perform tasks, as we are learning, GAI can also create or generate new content. Therefore, it not only automates but augments human efforts and even amplifies our intelligence. 

When people and GAI partner up, their business impact is far greater than when they work alone. GAI-powered tools are just that — tools — and even the best ones need human experts to wield them. Mercer research suggests that two-thirds of companies feel the same: 66% predict that GAI will free up time for more complex tasks. These human-machine teams can also tackle the same tasks with stunning results: GitHub and Microsoft found that programmers finished tasks 56% faster when GAI suggested lines of code for them to add. In the field of HR, the greatest potential is in analysing data that can inform total reward optimisation, identify workforce outliers in terms of engagement and productivity, as well as suggest efficiency opportunities for HR experts to consider. 


Because GAI can craft content and process large datasets much faster than humans, it can bridge skills and knowledge gaps to help us reach new heights of innovation and creativity. Need to craft a new training video? GAI cuts through hours-long projects in minutes. Trouble attracting your dream candidates? GAI can help you speak to their needs with personalised job postings. Worried about losing top talent? GAI can craft customised Total Rewards programs that really speak to different individuals while maintaining internal equity and pay fairness. Worried about health premiums? GAI can make recommendations on which populations might benefit from preventative healthcare and/or which health providers might deliver better outcomes.

But none of this is possible without humans to form the hypothesis, prompt the machine and add context to the findings that come back. If you are just starting out on your voyage of AI discovery, below are some key steps we see these early adopters taking as they explore the impact AI will have on their workplaces, their workforces, and indeed, the work itself. 

Three Business Imperatives Not to Forget As We Scale AI

Thriving in the age of AI requires that your organisation do no harm, redesign work for new possibilities, and optimise human talent in line with labour costs. Let’s explore each of these business imperatives: 

  1. Do no harm – ensure ethical AI practices are adopted and upheld. GAI comes with some major watch outs. It can spread misinformation, perpetuate biases, and violate copyrights in a blink of an eye. Employees may share private or confidential information via prompts, which could be stored by third parties and leaked in a data breach. Ensure you have policies to protect your data, own your IP, and help colleagues understand copyright laws. To mitigate these threats, work with your Risk and Compliance team to craft policies for the safe, responsible, and ethical use of GAI. Educate your employees on best practices and empower your people managers to hold their teams accountable. Discover more tips on how to safely activate GAI within your firm.
  2. Redesign work with humans in the foreground. To bring out the best in your people and tech, start by reimagining work in terms of tasks needed in the future of work and not based on the jobs of today. Break work down into tasks, determine the best way to handle each task (e.g., humans, AI, RPA, outsourcing), and rebuild new work processes around the optimal blend of humans and technology. Learn more about work design from the experts at Mercer.

    Curious to know what activities should be automated versus augmented within our HR functions? Follow Mercer on LinkedIn and be the first to learn which three HR roles will most benefit from work redesign in the age of AI. 

  3. Upskill in tandem to deliver an intelligence edge. As technology augments and automates more tasks, upskilling your workforce ensures that everyone benefits from the digital dividend and they are ready to add value in new ways. As the transactional work in HR becomes more automated, skills around scenario planning, facilitating strategic workforce planning and being able to tell a story with data will only grow in importance. There will also be a premium put on human diversity as LLMs level the playing field.  Building a diverse, digital-first culture means you benefit from the capabilities of both people and tech.

    There are also new skills we need to be acquiring. Across the firm, cultivate skills in algorithmic development, responsible AI use, and effective prompt engineering. These are on the rise. Find out more on potential career paths in our GAI guide for CPOs

Unlock the Promise of Generative AI for the HR Function

The era of AI is upon us and its potential for ushering in a new People Age is what is most exciting. The biggest challenge for HR will be marrying their decisions around technology with their future of work ambitions. Prioritising high value investments over broad adoption will be critical, so too will be ensuring learning can be scaled not just across the function, but across the entire organisation.

As you optimise for tomorrow, put your people at the heart of the discussions — how will new tech or new ways of working benefit them today? What are you doing to get them excited about the change it will have on their work? What will drive a digital-first mindset and how can your leadership behaviour infuse optimism and champion the change? As you model out the impact on jobs, consider your organisation’s role in helping workers reskill for what’s next.

This a topic we are collectively exploring together. If you are keen to discuss your journey, feel free to reach out to me directly— this truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to envisage a brighter HR. Let’s seize the opportunities together.

Author: Kate Bravery, Global Advisory Solutions and Insight leader, Mercer

HR Leaders Live Forum

Topic: Fear vs. Reality: Debunking the Myths and Embracing the Potential of Generative AI for HR

Date:   Tuesday 14 November

Time:  10.00am – 11.00am UK | 11.00am -12.00am CET | 2.00 – 3.00pm UAE | 3.30pm – 4.30pm IST | 6.00pm – 7.00pm HKG / SIN

Where: Zoom – Register now to attend


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