What HR Can’t Stop Talking About: UKG Workforce Institute Weigh-In

The UKG Workforce Institute Weigh-In for December 2023: To complement last month’s question about what HR doesn’t talk about enough, what’s a topic HR can’t stop talking about? 
 
“Sadly, almost everything we talk about in HR is overplayed. Certainly, talk of generational differences, the importance of diversity, engagement, and the need for HR to have a seat at the table have all been talked about to death. These days, I can’t bear to listen to conference speakers on those topics and have to rush off on the pretense that I’ve contracted Ebola.” — David Creelman, CEO, Creelman Research 
 
“Funny enough, one thing that seems to have a permanent spot in HR conversations is the endless chatter about performance reviews. It’s like the Groundhog Day of workplace discussions — we talk about it every year, but the conversation never seems to evolve much. The traditional, annual performance-review model has been under scrutiny for ages, with debates about its effectiveness, relevance, and impact on employee morale. Yet, despite the ongoing dialogue, many organizations still cling to this dated approach. It’s high time we break free from this loop and explore more dynamic and continuous methods of feedback and performance management that truly resonate with the modern workplace.” — Dr. Jessica Kriegel, chief scientist of workplace culture, Culture Partners 
 
Generative AI (GenAI) is admittedly being introduced to the market at a breakneck speed. ChatGPT was released in November 2022. Then, in early 2023, OpenAI released a large language model (LLM) called GPT-4 that was already a huge improvement. Microsoft and Google have announced several new features powered by Gen AI, including Search Generative Experience (SGE) and a LLM by Google called PaLM. However, this is a logical linear progression, as we have had chatbots for over a decade now. We are talking too much about ChatGPT because it’s not substantially different from what came before. It’s not like we have discovered and implemented artificial general intelligence. Now that would be something to obsess over. GenAI in its current state still requires a lot of human oversight and regulation, and the majority of organizations are in the infancy state of figuring out how to use it effectively for various business purposes. So, we need to pace ourselves.” — Alexandra Levit, co-author, “Deep Talent 
 
“I’m very much over hearing HR talk about employee engagement. While work and the environment that work is done in should be safe and enjoyable, ‘fun’ shouldn’t be a requirement! Work is how we exchange our time and talent to gain earnings to pay for life’s expenses — while fun is lighthearted activities or actions to create enjoyment, amusement, and/or pleasure. The two do not, in any way, equate! We need to stop putting pressure on organizations (and HR departments, specifically) to make workplaces more fun so that employees will enjoy their work more and, therefore, work harder. That notion is a fallacy! Instead, what we need to focus on is making 1) our workplaces physically and psychologically safe, 2) our processes and expectations clear, consistent, and transparent, and 3) hiring people committed to being supportive, collaborative, and accountable co-workers. If we create that kind of culture and sprinkle some livable wages and equitable opportunities for growth on top, the engagement and efficiency that we are looking for will blossom. And we will no longer need to worry about making work ‘fun’ to get people to wholeheartedly engage.” — Sarah Morgan, director of equity and inclusion, Humareso 
 
“The annual performance-appraisal process is a constant source of discussion and complaint, with ongoing debates about its relevance and effectiveness. Despite criticisms and calls for overhaul, many companies continue to use traditional performance-review systems, which can be time-consuming and stressful for managers and employees. The saga will continue until people data can easily correlate to business performance data. I think we’re close, but we are not quite there.” — Laurie Ruettimann, host, Punk Rock HR podcast