How Much Should AI Use in the Workplace Be Regulated?

AI has the potential to make all our lives easier, but to ensure the technology improves how employees work and relate to each other and customers, organizations will need a deliberate approach.

Artificial intelligence (AI) via ChatGPT and other technologies promises to take a lot of grunt work away from employees, enabling higher-level uses of their time. AI also can be used in Human Resources to help manage employees. But what are its proper uses, where is it most helpful, and how—if at all—should it be regulated?

Usage Report

A recent report, AI in the Workplace, Littler Survey Report, offers insights into how AI currently is being used, along with potential challenges. As with any new technology, it may take time for employers to realize that some regulation may be necessary.

Fewer than half of respondents (45 percent) say they limit AI to approved tools and uses, while an even smaller percentage (37 percent) report that they provide policies or guidance to employees on the proper use of AI tools in the workplace. Only about 1 in 5 engage in more sophisticated management practices, such as testing AI tools for potential bias, compliance, and other risk factors (21 percent) or mapping AI use across the organization (20 percent). Some 17 percent reveal they are taking no actions at all.

To Tell or Not to Tell?

Is it OK for an employee to use ChatGPT to draft a letter to a client? How about using this technology shortcut to write a marketing report or a presentation to executives about new ideas for products and the expansion of services? Is there a point where the crutch of ChatGPT veers into plagiarism or another form of idea co-opting? If an employee presents “work” that was completed with heavy help from ChatGPT, should they disclose that to their boss? Or, because ChatGPT is not a human who can be stolen from and is a technology equally available to everyone, is use of it to be taken for granted as simply the new way of working?

Cross-Departmental Cooperation

Whatever the eventual need for regulation, it’s encouraging that many organizations appear to be engaging in cross-departmental cooperation in managing these tools, according to the report. Respondents report that their information technology, HR, and legal/compliance departments share a relatively equal degree of responsibility for managing AI-driven HR tools—at least 70 percent of respondents who chose one of these options selected more than one department from the list. This collaboration may lead to better implementation of policies and guidelines in the future as AI tools mature, the report says.

Using AI for Hiring

AI technology may even make the lives of Human Resources employees easier, according to the report. Predictive AI tools can be deployed for a range of HR-related tasks and employment processes. These tools have become popular among employers, with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Chair Charlotte A. Burrows stating that as many as 83 percent of employers—and up to 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies—now use automated tools to screen or rank candidates for hire.

The danger of using AI in hiring is that the technology can mirror the biases of the people who created it. It seems at first thought to be the ultimate way to have objectivity in hiring, but if the system has not been thoroughly vetted and tested before being implemented, you may end up with the same difficulties you currently have in hiring a diverse population of high-performing employees, or even worse problems.

Favorite New Job Aid

A doctor who contributed an article to the health trade publication where I work is a ChatGPT enthusiast. She told me how she uses it for data analysis, enabling her to more quickly and accurately assess how her practice is doing financially. She also uses the technology to help write presentations to staff; to extract key points from long, unwieldy e-mails; and to help her mine key points from articles in professional journals. In addition, she is using ChatGPT to enhance her practice Website’s keyword content, and to aid in inventory management. In essence, it sounds to me like she found her favorite new job aid. No other job aid seems to come close to the power of ChatGPT.

Taking a Deliberate Approach

AI has the potential to make all our lives easier, but to ensure the technology improves how employees work and relate to each other and customers, organizations will need a deliberate approach. They will need to observe and think about how their employees are using this new technology, and then seriously consider whether new workplace regulations are needed.

Has your organization implemented new regulations to optimize AI? If not, are you likely to do so in the coming year?