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Generative AI, HR & Benefits

December 12, 20235 min read

The burgeoning growth of Generative AI ("GenAI") is already beginning to reshape the HR and benefits landscape. Its capacity to enhance employee engagement is immense. So says Boston Consulting Group, in its broad analysis, "How Generative AI Will Transform HR."

A number of thoughts struck me around how these advancements will be harnessed to address the persistent challenge of underutilized benefit programs.

Personalization leaps to the forefront
GenAI's ability to deeply understand employee needs and preferences is a game-changer. Imagine AI's extensive insights informing how to tailor benefit programs to individual needs. This level of
personalization will not only improve employee understanding of how benefit programs work, but will also increase their perceived value. This, in turn, will increase participation, engagement and satisfaction.

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Conversational AI will enhance accessibility
Conversational AI workflows expressed through AI-driven chatbots will help employees gain benefit understanding in a more intuitive and engaging manner. This approach will simplify the process and increase the likelihood that employees will explore and use their benefits more actively.

Streamlined onboarding and continuous engagement
GenAI's potential to automate much of the onboarding process can be extended to benefits education. By assessing new hires' native awareness and understanding of core benefit concepts and terminology, our bots will keep learning how to better guide employees through their benefit enrollment options - from day one.

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More informed benefits- and job-related decision-making will ensue, buttressed by the continuous learning that AI can facilitate to keep employees updated and engaged with both their benefits and their roles.

Data-driven insights for targeted messaging
GenAI's prowess in data analysis will yield important new insights into benefit program trends and employee preferences. HR and Benefit Managers' better - and closer-to-real-time - access to how employees are thinking - and responding - will become instrumental in creating more accurate targeting strategies that address gaps in benefit utilization. This will enable employers, consultants and vendors to develop simpler and more effective benefit designs that are more likely to really resonate with their workforces.

Ethical AI for trust and transparency
One of Frank Zappa's lyrical enigmas was "the crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe." Similarly, the crux of our emergent challenges with AI will come from the strange juxtapositions of processes, ethical considerations and bias reduction, especially when handling sensitive employee information.

If true employee well-being is one of our key goals, we'll have to discover "real ways" that AI tools can both respect privacy and evolve to curtail bias artifacts. Because, without deploying systems that employees trust, we just won't ever get to where workers are willing to regularly and meaningfully engage with our benefit programs.


At at the frontier of constant change
If you don't think AI will drive newfangled approaches to - and the means for - organizational transformation, well, think again. Not too long ago, the rate of change shifted from linear and incremental - to exponential. It's like the peasant who charged the king 1 penny for the first day, with each days' amount doubling thereafter - for 30 days. You know the story, but in case you've forgotten the ending, get this - on Day 30, the peasant was owed $5,368,709!

Similarly, we've barely scratched the surface of how much change can be achieved in the means and methods of engaging people in our well-designed but terribly underutilized programs. Who among us will truly succeed at setting new industry standards for elevating both enrollment and satisfaction with our benefit programs?

Leveraging psychographics for tailored communication
As I regularly tout, the advent of psychographics marks a significant advancement in HR and Benefits communication, offering a deeper understanding of employee worldviews, values, and preferences. Or, put perhaps more simply, we can now not only educate - we can motivate. Isn't it past time to evolve demographic and situational approaches to incorporate our people's diverse attitudes, values, world views and behaviors?

And the good news is, we can do this - faster and easier than ever before. Today's most effective psychographic models use 4 to 6 distinct values-based segments. There are people who want to lead, and people who want to be led - let's frame our messaging so that both types feel understood, and appreciated. After all, there's just no context possible via education-only approaches.

The BenefitPersonas model
Balance Seekers, for example, value innovation, and they don't want to be told what to do - but do give them the pros and cons and let them choose.


Willful Endurers, on the other hand, take life one day at a time, don't want text-heavy messages, don't believe in investing time and money today in order to have a better tomorrow, and value knowing whether their peers like a given benefit - or not.

Direction Takers are diligent and focused - and they value stability over "early adoption."

Self Achievers want an expert to show them how they can take control of the situation, and move quickly reach their goals.

Finally, Priority Jugglers put family and a sense of duty to colleagues first. They're super-busy (often busier than the rest of us), and need the bottom line - stat - plus how it will save them time and effort.

Leveraging our shared humanity
Incorporating psychographics into HR strategies, particularly when combined with GenAI's capabilities, results in a powerful synergy. It elevates the effectiveness of personalized communications, fostering a workplace where every employee feels understood and valued. This innovative approach is not just about delivering information—it's about creating meaningful connections with our workforces, enhancing engagement, and setting new benchmarks for employee-centric practices.

The last word
GenAI's transformative potential for HR will quickly become vital for tackling the underutilization of employee benefits. Embracing GenAI with openness and a commitment to ethical considerations offers a path to more engaged, more informed, and more satisfied employees, ultimately elevating the entire topography of benefits.

~ Mark Head
© 2023. All Rights Reserved.


This above all, to refuse to be a victim. Unless I can do that I can do nothing.
~ Margaret Atwood


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Mark Head


With 4 decades of combined experience in employee benefits consulting, wellness and health management, Head brings a unique combination of dynamic perspectives into a clear vision of where the future of health care is moving - and it's moving towards deeper human connection, awareness, and engagement...

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