It’s no secret that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly adding more and more value to our personal and professional lives as time goes by. According to the 2023 WEF Future of Jobs Report, 75% of organizations are expected to adopt AI technology on a mass scale in the next five years.
The disruption that Generative AI engines like ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, among others, have created around the world has prompted most departments within organizations to start figuring out how to leverage this new technology to improve the way they operate – learning and development teams are no exception.
Creating personalized learning paths, customizable and interactive learning content, and expediting training data analysis are just a few ways in which AI can enhance the way your company approaches employee learning and development. Having said that, it’s crucial for L&D teams to understand the technology and its use cases within the employee development world.
Applications of Artificial Intelligence in L&D
One of the most impactful ways to use machine learning tools as an L&D pro is to increase the efficiency with which basic functions like creating training surveys, administering them, and analyzing the resulting data can be done.
Generative AI engines can easily create an outline for your next safety, compliance, DEI&B training assignments, or any other type of mandatory and optional training you’re planning on doing with employees. A simple prompt along the lines of “Generate a training survey template for employees in the [insert your industry] industry with a focus on [insert type of training] training” can get you started and drastically reduce your workload.
The time and effort that processing training data takes is a very real challenge for employee development teams. With the help of AI training tools, specifically made to process that data for you and generate custom learning track suggestions for your employees, you and your team could gain valuable time back to focus on more impactful activities. Similarly, new data processing AI tools offer L&D teams the option to make more out of that stagnant data that may be sitting in a spreadsheet or somewhere in the cloud.
AI tools can give you the ability to increase the pace and efficiency at which you’re able to produce training resources by automating some of the most mundane and time-consuming tasks, letting you spend more time strategizing how to make the most of your L&D program.
Creating Personalized Training Resources
AI technology can help you to create different types of personalized training content in much less time than doing so on your own.
Depending on your industry, you might already do some level of personalization when creating new training resources, whether it’s for different stakeholders or teams within the company. Coming up with training materials like templates for managers to use in one-on-ones, outlines for training videos/documents, or making curated on-demand video playlists can be a great way to utilize machine learning within L&D.
Asking Chat GPT to “Generate a template for a one-on-one meeting for a manager in [Insert Industry]” will give you an endless supply of machine generated outlines for that role and industry. You can then edit and personalize the AI’s ideas even more to the points your leaders need to cover with employees. Gen AI’s tools can similarly generate written training documents about a specific industry or subject that you can use as the building blocks of your own training documentation.
AI-powered training platforms like an LMS can also suggest personalized video playlists for each individual learner in your organization based on the skills their specific role requires and can even create curated learning tracks for your employees to reinforce those skills and learn new ones.
Closing Organizational Skill Gaps
“Skills Gaps” or the skills an organization needs its employees to have vs the skills they currently possess are an ongoing area of improvement for most companies. AI now offers L&D teams a tool they can leverage to assess and tackle this crucial part of organizational performance with both new and existing employees.
When focusing on closing existing skills gaps in your organization, it makes sense to start with creating internal surveys to collect data and uncover what skills the organization needs to focus on developing in its employees first. L&D teams can leverage generative AI to create skills gap assessments to help collect data on their existing skill gaps.
AI can also be used to sift through that data much faster and even visualize it in a way that makes it easier to see trends and come up with practical solutions. In contrast to working out of a spreadsheet and creating graphs to visualize the information, leveraging AI as a comprehensive tool is undeniably more effective for identifying and addressing both soft and hard skill gaps.
Translating & Repurposing Training Content
Machine learning can also be used to update and extend the life of outdated training materials in a much more efficient way. Prompting a tool like Google Bard with something like “Show me reliable sources on heavy machinery safety training” will give you an endless number of up-to-date sources and data about the subject that you can then use to reformulate existing training materials.
For organizations with a multilingual workforce, it’s often crucial to be able to provide their employees with training in several languages. The monetary cost and time it takes to hire an external vendor to translate your existing training materials can be mitigated by utilizing machine learning translation tools that can help your team cut costs as well as the amount of time their non-English speaking employees go without necessary training.
Challenges with AI in Employee Development
It’s important to keep in mind that machine learning engines are not exempt from biases just because they are machines. On the contrary, they are subject to the bias of the individuals who code them and the information they use to generate their responses to your prompts.
This creates the possibility for AI to discriminate or exclude certain groups of people based on race, gender, socioeconomic status, geographic location, and other factors in its answers. A study published by ScienceAdvances showed that we are 3% less likely to identify a false tweet generated by AI compared to one written by a human and that as machine learning continues to improve, this gap is expected to continue growing.
Low Quality Information
Although generative Artificial Intelligence engines can provide us with detailed and specific information in an instant, all these technologies are still in their experimental phases which makes them prone to mistakes.
When using AI in your L&D strategy, you should never blindly trust the information displayed and always double check its validity. Google’s Bard FAQ page states that “Generative AI and all its possibilities are exciting, but it’s still new. Bard is an experiment, and it will make mistakes. Even though it’s getting better every day, Bard can provide inaccurate information, or it can even make offensive statements”.
Reluctance to Mass Adoption
One of the biggest topics of discussion around artificial intelligence is whether certain jobs can/will be replaced by this technology – learning and development professionals are certainly part of those conversations.
Data suggests that this AI is not here to take over. The World Economic Forum published a study that found that although 85 million jobs could be displaced by AI come 2025, 97 million new ones will be created as we become more integrated with machine learning.
Because of this fear of being replaced, lots of employees will be reluctant to start using AI technology. It’s crucial for L&D teams to partner with leadership and send out a clear message to your organization – adopting AI tools can enhance employees’ abilities and allow them to work more efficiently, it is not meant to replace them.
The Future of AI in the Workplace
As artificial intelligence continues to become more integrated into our daily lives at work, it is crucial that L&D teams come up with training strategies to ensure that integration is smooth and productive.
One useful way to visualize the process of incorporating AI training into your L&D strategy is by taking the following three-phase approach:
Phase 1 – Help Your Employees Build a Strong AI foundation:
1. Thoughtfully curate technical training – focusing on creating introductory training resources that demystify AI, helping employees comprehend its fundamental mechanisms, language, and vast potential. This can involve engaging in “AI 101 workshops”, interactive demonstrations of AI interfaces, or seminars led by industry experts.
2. Nurture critical thinking – Infuse training modules with exercises that promote critical thinking, enabling employees to assess AI-generated suggestions. By incorporating scenario-based learning or simulation activities, employees can sharpen their ability to tell between AI’s recommendations and make informed decisions.
3. Foster contextualization workshops – Organize dedicated sessions that underscore the significance of context in AI interactions. Through role-playing activities and real-world simulation games, employees can truly grasp the importance of clear communication with AI systems. These hands-on experiences will reinforce the need for precise context to achieve desired outcomes.
Phase 2 – Create a Symbiotic Relationship Between Employees and AI
1. Provide data literacy training – One way to create a deeper more seamless connection between your employees and machine learning technology is to design courses and other training materials that go beyond showing them the basic functionality, and dive into things like data analysis and how to practically use insights generated by AI platforms.
2. Teach advanced problem-solving with AI – At this point, it’s also important to start providing employees with training on how to use artificial intelligence to solve more complex problems. This can be done by creating challenges that make employees use AI in a highly technical way or even hosting brainstorming sessions to come up with more useful ways to leverage it.
3. Instill a continuous learning mindset – Lastly, you must continue to create a culture of continuous learning. Making sure you’re providing your employees with training on any new developments in artificial intelligence technology and how it’s changing the world at large, will keep them curious and wanting to explore how it can make their own lives easier.
Phase 3 – Develop Your Employees’ Human Insights
1. Dive into automation strategy – Diving into the how and why behind automating certain business functions through machine learning in training modules will allow your employees to understand the bigger picture and impact of this technology on organizational growth.
2. Administer data analytics training – Educating employees on things like predictive analytics, data interpretation, and how to use AI data insights to make strategic decisions will allow employees to reach new levels of efficiency in their roles and see AI as a crucial tool for their success.
3. Incorporate training on the ethics of AI in your training program – As mentioned previously, the ethics behind using AI are complex and must be openly discussed to minimize bias and mistakes. Incorporating training materials and discussions on how to use this tool ethically will make your employees more comfortable with this technology.
Upskilling and Reskilling Your Workforce with AI
Upskilling and reskilling employees on the applications of artificial intelligence in the workplace is something every organization needs to be doing right now. Falling behind on introducing, educating, and training employees on this technology is not something any organization wanting to future-proof their workforce can afford.
Using a tool specifically designed to upskill and reskill employees through AI-generated custom learning tracks, based on role core competencies, is a great way to incorporate machine learning into your learning and development strategy. Similarly, a cohort-based leadership training platform integrated with AI-prescribed video content can enhance the impact leadership training has on your existing, new, and potential leaders. AI offers an exciting future for leadership training, one in which leaders will be able to practice having hard conversations, delivering presentations, and more before having to do it with their employees in real life.