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5 ways ChatGPT hurts HR – and 3 ways it helps

Dive into the ways ChatGPT can help – and hurt – HR professionals, with real-life examples of policies, emails and the like that either got a failing or passing grade.

Katie Duncan

Katie Duncan

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a major trend in the world of work, with professionals in many industries buzzing about tools like ChatGPT. However, the increasing popularity of AI also raises an important question: to what extent can, or will, bots like ChatGPT replace human workers?

Many HR professionals are understandably nervous about these changes, wondering how AI might impact their jobs. To get to the bottom of it, the team at JobSage tried an experiment to see how well ChatGPT would do with management. We prompted the chatbot with 15 sensitive management scenarios, then had professionals in law, HR, and management rate the responses.

Needless to say, our experiment confirmed that ChatGPT can’t replace a human manager – 40% of its responses earned a failure rating, while 60% were in the acceptable range. Still, in addition to these shortcomings, we did reveal ways that AI could potentially help.

We’ll break down our findings for you, including both how ChatGPT can’t replace HR professionals outright, as well as how it can provide support in your day-to-day management tasks. Let’s dive in!

5 ways ChatGPT can’t replace HR pros

Although ChatGPT is designed to be somewhat emotionally aware and appreciative of the input it receives, it’s still a robot. It lacks a human touch, let alone a sense of professionalism, which limits the types of responses it can give. Here are some of the major ways that ChatGPT fails to measure up to a human HR pro.

1. Lacks empathy in some areas

This is by far the biggest issue to come out of our experiment: ChatGPT tends to lack empathy in how it responds to sensitive situations.

For example, when prompted to write a termination letter for an employee with performance issues, the bot not only compared the employee to their colleagues in a discouraging way, but also was incredibly harsh in tone.

While it’s important to be firm and direct in workplace situations like this, it’s just as important to understand the human behind the performance issues. Simply put, when the “manager” doesn’t have a heart, it’s hard for it to consider the impact of its words.

Subject: Termination of Employment due to Performance Issues
Dear [Employee Name],

I regret to inform you that your employment with our company will be terminated, effective immediately. After careful consideration and evaluation, it has been determined that your work performance has not met the expectations set for your role. Specifically, your work ethic and productivity are not on par with your colleagues, despite repeated feedback and performance coaching.

We understand that this news may come as a surprise to you, and we want to assure you that this decision was not made lightly. Our company has high standards for our employees, and unfortunately, your performance has not met those expectations. As a result, we must take action to ensure that our company remains competitive and successful.

We will be providing you with [specify any severance package or benefits]. Additionally, we will provide you with a reference letter to assist you in your future job search.

We wish you all the best in your future endeavors, and we hope that you will be able to use this experience as a valuable learning opportunity for future professional growth and development.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]
[Your Title]
[Your Contact Information]

2. Doesn’t always share specific examples

A certain level of detail is necessary in professional communication, especially when you’re asking employees to meet performance goals, or terminating someone for performance or budgetary issues.

In various scenarios, including terminating an employee and improving a lacking work culture, ChatGPT failed to provide any specific examples or benchmarks to help employees understand what hard work or poor performance actually look like.

Subject: Embracing a More Intense Work Culture to Stay Ahead
Dear Team,

As you are all aware, the competition in our industry is fierce, and the landscape is changing rapidly. To stay ahead, we need to be able to pivot quickly, adapt to change, and perform at our best every day. We cannot afford to rest on our laurels or fall behind our competitors.

To achieve this, we need to embrace a more intense work culture. We need to work harder, smarter, and with more focus and determination than ever before. We need to push ourselves to the limit and strive for excellence in everything we do.

We understand that this may not be comfortable for everyone, and some of you may feel that you are not cut out for this level of intensity. If that is the case, we want you to know that we understand and respect your decision. We are committed to creating a work environment where everyone can thrive and grow, and we realize that not everyone is suited to a high-intensity culture.

However, we also want to stress that those who are willing to embrace this new culture will have opportunities for growth and development, both professionally and personally. We will be providing support, training, and resources to help you succeed and reach your full potential.

We believe that we can achieve great things together, and we are excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to speak with your manager or HR representative.

Thank you for your commitment and dedication to our company.

Best regards,

[Your Name]
[Your Title]
[Your Contact Information]

3. Doesn’t exercise discretion as needed

Whether it’s for personal privacy or to protect the company, some topics are meant to be treated sensitively. A human HR professional knows not to share things like an employee’s personal details or the company’s trade secrets openly.

But AI doesn’t always have the discretion to know what’s okay to share and what isn’t. For example, when prompted with an employee’s concerns about pay equity, ChatGPT shared details about another employee’s compensation.

Subject: Addressing Concerns about Salary
Dear [Employee Name],

I understand that you recently became aware that another employee with similar experience is making more money than you. I wanted to address this concern and provide some context around our company’s compensation policies.

First and foremost, I want to assure you that we value your contributions to our company and appreciate your dedication to your role. We understand that salary is an important factor in your job satisfaction, and we want to make sure that our compensation policies are fair and competitive.

The salary difference between you and the other employee was not intentional, and it happened due to unique circumstances. We were in a desperate situation when we hired the other employee, and they asked for a higher salary. At the time, we made the decision to agree to their request in order to fill the position quickly, but it was not reflective of our standard salary structure.

It’s important to note that our company has strict policies around salary increases and we cannot adjust salaries outside of our standard compensation policies at this time. We will take steps to ensure that we communicate more transparently and consistently about our compensation policies in the future.

We understand that this news may be disappointing, but we hope that you can understand the situation we are in. We are committed to ensuring that all employees are compensated fairly and equitably, and we will continue to evaluate our compensation policies to ensure that they align with industry standards.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention, and please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]
[Your Title]
[Your Contact Information]

4. Doesn’t suggest face-to-face opportunities

Even if many workplace functions can be handled remotely, in some situations, nothing replaces a human touch.

In many of its responses, ChatGPT didn’t offer employees any opportunity for face-to-face meetings.

This was especially inappropriate in cases like bereavement and diversity, two scenarios where face-to-face meetings can be crucial in helping an employee feel supported.

Subject: Termination of Employment due to Performance Issues
Dear [Employee Name],

I regret to inform you that your employment with our company will be terminated, effective immediately. After careful consideration and evaluation, it has been determined that your work performance has not met the expectations set for your role. Specifically, your work ethic and productivity are not on par with your colleagues, despite repeated feedback and performance coaching.

We understand that this news may come as a surprise to you, and we want to assure you that this decision was not made lightly. Our company has high standards for our employees, and unfortunately, your performance has not met those expectations. As a result, we must take action to ensure that our company remains competitive and successful.

We will be providing you with [specify any severance package or benefits]. Additionally, we will provide you with a reference letter to assist you in your future job search.

We wish you all the best in your future endeavors, and we hope that you will be able to use this experience as a valuable learning opportunity for future professional growth and development.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]
[Your Title]
[Your Contact Information]

5. Contradicts itself at times

Although it can write fairly appropriate responses to a variety of prompts, ultimately, ChatGPT doesn’t really know what it’s saying, per se. AI is about processing rather than understanding – it can be programmed to respond to an input with an output, but it doesn’t necessarily know the meaning of either.

Because of that, we found contradictions and confusing and redundant language in ChatGPT’s responses. For example, in a letter outlining a new employee monitoring system, ChatGPT assured employees that the “system is not intended to be used to monitor or micromanage employees,” seeming to forget that it was talking about a “monitoring system” by name.

Subject: New Employee Monitoring System
Dear [Company Name] Team,

I wanted to take a moment to let you know about an important change that we are making to our operations. As of [date], we will be implementing a new employee monitoring system that will allow us to better track productivity and ensure that we are meeting our goals as a team.

The new system will allow us to see when employees are online and what they are working on, which will give us a better understanding of how work is being done across the company. This will help us identify areas where we can improve productivity and efficiency, and will allow us to provide targeted support and resources to teams and individuals who need it most.

We want to assure you that this system is not intended to be used to monitor or micromanage employees, and we will be following strict guidelines and policies to ensure that your privacy and confidentiality are protected. We recognize that everyone works differently and we want to ensure that our monitoring system is used only to improve operations and support employee productivity.

We understand that this may be a significant change for some of you, and we want to encourage you to reach out to your managers or HR representatives if you have any questions or concerns. We are committed to working with you to ensure that this transition is as smooth as possible.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to [Company Name]. We are confident that the new employee monitoring system will help us achieve even greater success as a team.

Best regards,

[Your Name]
[Your Title]
[Your Contact Information]

3 ways ChatGPT can help

We’ve proven that ChatGPT can’t exactly replace HR professionals, but that doesn’t mean it can’t help in some of your day-to-day tasks. Here are three ways that using AI can support your work.

1. Addresses legalities

Some of ChatGPT’s most successful responses came from how it addressed legalities, from a sexual harassment investigation to a change in the company insurance provider.

It seems to handle these topics well, possibly because legalities tend to have very specific requirements and parameters.

Feeding the AI specific information about your company policies in your prompts can help tailor these kinds of responses even more.

Subject: Change in Insurance Provider
Dear [Company Name] Team,

I am writing to inform you of a change to our health insurance provider. We understand that healthcare costs are increasing and that this is an issue that affects us all. In an effort to keep our benefits costs manageable, we have decided to switch to a new insurance provider.

We know that change can be difficult, and that some of you may be disappointed that we are not staying with our previous provider. We want you to know that we carefully considered all available options and made the decision that we believe is in the best interest of our company and our employees.

While we understand that some of you may have a preference for our previous provider, we believe that our new provider will offer quality coverage at an affordable price. We will be holding informational sessions in the coming weeks to provide more details about the new insurance plan and answer any questions you may have.

We encourage you to review the plan documents carefully and reach out to our benefits team if you have any questions or concerns. We want to reassure you that we are committed to providing competitive and valuable benefits to our employees, and that this change will not compromise the quality of the care you receive.

We appreciate your understanding and support during this time of transition. Please know that we are here to support you and answer any questions you may have as we make this change.

Best regards,

[Your Name]
[Your Title]
[Your Contact Information]

2. Handles company-wide messaging

The more uncomplicated and universal a topic is, the more likely it is for ChatGPT to give a good response.

The AI did well in scenarios where it had to describe blanket workplace policies that required straightforward action on an employee’s part, like toning down political rhetoric and committing to a more diverse workplace.

Subject: Reminder on Appropriate Use of Internal Messaging Platform
Dear [Company Name] Team,

I hope this email finds you well. I wanted to take a moment to remind everyone about the appropriate use of our internal messaging platform. While we encourage open communication and discussion, we have recently received reports of discussions around politics becoming heated and disrespectful.

We understand that politics can be a topic of interest and discussion, but it’s important to remember that we are a diverse team with a variety of viewpoints, beliefs, and backgrounds. As such, it’s crucial that we treat each other with respect and professionalism in all of our communications, both in person and online.

We ask that all team members remember to be thoughtful and considerate in their online interactions, keeping in mind that the internal messaging platform is a professional tool intended for work-related discussions. Please do not engage in personal attacks, derogatory language, or other forms of disrespectful behavior that may offend or upset others.

We encourage open dialogue and healthy debate, but it’s important to do so in a respectful manner that does not disrupt our work environment or interfere with our productivity. If you have any questions or concerns about the appropriate use of the internal messaging platform, please do not hesitate to reach out to your manager or HR representative.

Thank you for your cooperation and professionalism in this matter. We value each member of our team and look forward to working together in a productive and respectful environment.

Best regards,

[Your Name]
[Your Title]
[Your Contact Information]

3. Deals with uncomfortable situations

Though its lack of empathy holds it back from handling some situations sensitively, ChatGPT responded fairly well to situations involving employee complaints and termination. It was especially well-rated in how it handled terminating an employee due to financial constraints.

ChatGPT can’t replace a manager in these situations – especially given that 77% of professionals say layoffs should be handled in person – but it can provide some structure and support as far as how to broach uncomfortable topics.

Subject: Termination of Employment due to Financial Constraints
Dear [Employee Name],

I regret to inform you that due to financial constraints and a decrease in revenue, we must make the difficult decision to terminate your employment with our company effective immediately. This decision was not an easy one, and we understand the impact it may have on you and your family.

We value the contributions you have made to our company and appreciate your hard work and dedication to your role. Unfortunately, the current economic situation has left us with no other option but to make this difficult decision.

We want to assure you that this decision is in no way a reflection of your performance or the quality of your work. It is simply a measure we have to take to ensure the long-term viability of our company.

We will be providing you with the severance package, which includes [specify the details of severance package] as a token of appreciation for your contribution to the company. Additionally, we will provide you with a reference letter to assist you in your future job search.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns, and we will do our best to address them. We wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]
[Your Title]
[Your Contact Information]

Final thoughts on using ChatGPT in HR

As tools like ChatGPT are becoming more ubiquitous and refined, it’s worth investigating how they can help out in your workplace. Ultimately, however, AI is just that – “artificial,” never quite capturing the human touch.

So, while it can do some simpler tasks, most situations that HR professionals deal with are just too complex for AI to handle – a testament to how valuable our human resources truly are.

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