The pros and cons of using ChatGPT at work, and what employers need to know

Released on November 30, 2022, ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI to interact conversationally in a human-like way.

Over recent months, hundreds of articles have been written about the chatbot, many of them alarming and sensationalist, with such headline phrases as “ChatGPT is coming for you/for your job/to your workplace… beware ChatGPT… it will replace you… how scared should we be?”, to name just a few.

In this post, we address what the AI tool is being used for, some of the benefits and concerns associated with its use in the workplace, and how employers can navigate/prepare for those. As it has dominated the AI scene in recent months, we refer primarily to ChatGPT. Keep in mind, however, that it is just one of many (current and future) AI tools.

How prevalent is ChatGPT’s use?

While ChatGPT is relatively new, it is rapidly gaining popularity and momentum – and other forms of AI have already been used extensively. A survey conducted by Fishbowl found that 43% of nearly 12,000 professionals said they use AI, including ChatGPT, at/for work. Of these, 68% said their managers were unaware of them doing so.

What is ChatGPT being used for in the workplace?

There are countless ways that ChatGPT and other AI tools can be used in the workplace. Some of the commonly mentioned tasks include:  

  • Writing content for articles, white papers, briefing notes, etc.
  • Providing marketing content for blog posts, social media, websites, SEO, and other materials
  • Writing resumes, cover letters, and other application materials
  • Writing job descriptions, postings, and interview questions, and applicant responses
  • Handling customer service inquiries and responses
  • Writing and assisting with programming code
  • Creating surveys
  • Drafting emails and managing schedules
  • Conducting research
  • Translating documents

What are some concerns about using ChatGPT for work?

While ChatGPT and other AI tools can be used effectively to support one’s work, there are some concerns to be aware of.

  • ChatGPT has been shown to pass law and business school exams. While this may not directly impact the workplace, if a prospective employee used an AI tool to help them pass their exams, they may not be as qualified as you think. As is the case for HR, the law has many nuances requiring deep analysis and consideration, aspects that ChatGPT doesn’t (currently) have the capability to address.
  • Further to the above, ChatGPT can be biased and doesn’t know your organizational culture nor the nuances/grey area of people, life circumstances, backgrounds – all aspects that are crucial to consider where matters of HR and people are concerned.
  • ChatGPT isn’t always accurate and can be outright wrong. For example, as reported in Fast Company, it has been shown to mix up the chronological order of events and even come up with imaginary names. Perhaps most concerning is that it can get almost everything right with the exception of a few significant mistakes – which are assumed to be right. Those assumed “facts” may then get spread and become accepted.
  • As ChatGPT doesn’t provide sources, it’s prone to plagiarism. ChatGPT has attempted to address this through an additional tool intended to check for plagiarism, however, like the AI tool itself, it’s not perfect.
  • Employees are concerned for their jobs. Reports indicate that nearly half the tasks carried out by administrative and legal staff could eventually become automated via AI tools, in addition to significant impacts in the tech and other sectors.

How should employers prepare for the reality of ChatGPT?

ChatGPT and other AI tools are an increasing reality that will inevitably become more intelligent over time. That said, AI has been around for several decades and we’ve also been hearing about AI replacing/taking over jobs for about that long. Acknowledging that we are certainly not experts in this field, we believe that – as with all workplace shifts (and concerns about those shifts) – the most important thing for employers to do is to be aware of/understand what ChatGPT is, and what it is being/can be used for. This includes clarity on both the pros and cons. From there:

  • Clarify your stance on using ChatGPT/AI as an organization, including how and when it may/may not be used; in fact, employment lawyers are recommending that employers put in place “Use of AI” policies
  • As part of those policies and procedures, ensure that when AI/ChatGPT is used, proper mechanisms are put in place for proof-reading, editing, and fact checking; and that personal or confidential information isn’t used with AI/ChatGPT under any circumstances
  • Understand the impacts of plagiarism and, when using ChatGPT, also use ChatGPT Plagiarism in addition to other tools to detect plagiarism   
  • Talk to your people about how it will, might, and will not impact their jobs in the future, keeping in mind that for most positions, AI may be able to support and change them, but is unlikely to completely replace them

Don’t take it from us… what does ChatGPT have to say on this?

We asked ChatGPT whether employers should be concerned about its use and here’s what it had to say…

As an AI language model, ChatGPT is not designed to replace human workers or pose a threat to employment. Instead, it can be a valuable tool for businesses and organizations to improve their operations and services.

Employers should not be worried about ChatGPT itself, but rather how they can best leverage its capabilities. ChatGPT can be used to automate customer service, provide personalized recommendations, generate content, and perform data analysis, among other tasks. This can help businesses become more efficient and provide better service to their customers.

However, it is important for employers to consider the ethical implications of using AI in the workplace. This includes issues such as data privacy, algorithmic bias, and transparency. Employers should ensure that they are using AI in a responsible and ethical manner and are taking steps to mitigate any potential negative impacts.

Overall, ChatGPT and other AI technologies can be beneficial to employers if used appropriately and responsibly.

We then asked ChatGPT how to minimize the potential pitfalls of using it in the workplace.

As an AI language model, ChatGPT can be a valuable tool for the workplace, but there are potential pitfalls that you should be aware of to minimize any negative impact. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Clearly define the purpose and limitations of using ChatGPT: It is important to establish a clear purpose for using ChatGPT in the workplace and to communicate the limitations of the technology to your team. This will help manage expectations and ensure that ChatGPT is used appropriately.
  2. Train ChatGPT with relevant data: ChatGPT’s responses are based on the data it was trained on. It is important to ensure that the data used to train ChatGPT is relevant and appropriate for the workplace. This will help prevent ChatGPT from providing inaccurate or inappropriate responses.
  3. Regularly review and update ChatGPT’s responses: It is important to regularly review and update ChatGPT’s responses to ensure that they remain accurate and appropriate. This will help prevent ChatGPT from providing outdated or incorrect information.
  4. Provide human oversight: ChatGPT is an AI language model and can make mistakes. It is important to provide human oversight to ensure that ChatGPT is providing accurate and appropriate responses. This will also help prevent any potential legal or ethical issues that may arise from the use of ChatGPT.
  5. Protect sensitive data: ChatGPT may inadvertently reveal sensitive information if it is not properly trained or if it is provided with sensitive data. It is important to ensure that sensitive data is properly protected and not shared with ChatGPT

Overall, using ChatGPT in the workplace can be a valuable tool, but it is important to be aware of its limitations and to use it responsibly. By following these suggestions, you can minimize the potential pitfalls of using ChatGPT in the workplace.

Jouta’s HR Consultants can help you prepare for the use of AI tools in your workplace.