Episode 399: AI and the Future of HR With Kara Kelley, CEO Founder and CEO of Clinical HR

Summary:Workology Podcast interview with Kara Kelley, CEO Founder and CEO of Clinical HR, talking about AI and the workplace future.

Episode 399: AI and the Future of HR With Kara Kelley, CEO Founder and CEO of Clinical HR

Summary:Workology Podcast interview with Kara Kelley, CEO Founder and CEO of Clinical HR, talking about AI and the workplace future.

Table of Contents

If we have AI that’s available, that can help someone who still needs to be there, still needs to have a job and be at work, but you’re able to hire somebody that doesn’t necessarily need to come 100% ready and qualified because you have tools to better help them do that job, then I feel like that’s something that we need to, to look at as a benefit and not look at it as, oh my gosh, this is going to replace somebody because ultimately it’s not at the end of the day, but it can help you build the workforce that you need by being able to hire less skilled workers and either train them faster or support them in that role.

Episode 399: AI and the Future of HR With Kara Kelley, CEO Founder and CEO of Clinical HR


Welcome to the Workology Podcast, a podcast for the disruptive workplace leader. Join host Jessica Miller-Merrell, founder of Workology.com, as she sits down and gets to the bottom of trends, tools, and case studies for the business leader, HR, and recruiting professional who is tired of the status quo. Now here’s Jessica with this episode of Workology.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:01:00.73] This podcast is powered by Ace The HR Exam and Upskill HR. These are two of the courses that we offer here at Workology for certification prep and recertification for HR leaders. As technology continues to evolve at an unprecedented pace, I feel like things are changing every day. Companies are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence or AI to help streamline their HR processes and improve the employee experience. From recruitment to hiring to performance evaluation and training, AI is changing the way businesses approach human resources. But what are the implications of these changes for employees, employers, and society as a whole? These are some of the things that we’re going to talk about today. Now, before I introduce today’s podcast guest, I do want to hear from you. Please text the word “PODCAST” to 512-548-3005. Ask me questions, leave comments, make suggestions for future guests. This is my community text number and I want to hear from you. So today, I’m so excited, I’m joined by Kara Kelley, founder and CEO of Clinical HR, an advisory firm for dental and medical practices. Kara focuses on cultivating leadership skills, managing employee relations issues, and implementing competitive total reward systems. She works with clients to set strategic goals, draft employee handbooks, develop pay structures, God love you, and integrate the financial side of dentistry with the leadership role. She has also drafted business plans and helped clients understand how their non-financial side of practice can impact the bottom line. Kara, welcome to the Workology Podcast.

Kara Kelley: [00:02:40.34] Thank you, Jess, I’m so excited to be here.

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Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:02:43.13] I’m excited too, to have you on. We’ve known each other for a little while, um, online first and then in person. We live, both live in the Austin metropolitan area and I’m excited to, to learn more about what you do. And one particular area we’re going to focus on, which is artificial intelligence. So before we get started, talk a little bit about your career path and what led you to working in human resources.

Kara Kelley: [00:03:11.45] I actually fell into it. I started my degree as a marketing major and took a HR class for a general business credit and just kind of fell in love with it, and went and switched my major. So I have a business degree with a concentration in human resource management. And then from there, I ended up working at a CPA firm that worked with small medical practices, doing marketing for them, but then also kind of led into an HR business development consulting role internally as well as for our clients. And so then I went and got my CP. I’ve since then gotten my SCP and my SPHR, and I know you have people that you serve helping them get theirs. And so that, that is definitely great work because those are not easy exams. But I really love what I do. I’ve been doing this for over ten years now. Like I said, working with small medical practices primarily in dentistry. But I have, I have worked outside of with private practices in veterinary, chiropractic, dermatology, and so on.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:04:10.67] I love it and I love the niche. I honestly, if I could go back, I would niche a lot sooner. Like you said, HR certification and recertification. That’s kind of the vein that I play. But when I first started my business, I did everything and I think that that is, well, it’s the absolute opposite of what you should be doing.

Kara Kelley: [00:04:33.23] It is, and I fell into that as well. Like I said, I started working for a firm that just happened to serve small medical practices, primarily dentists. And I just kind of found my people. It was great. I found my HR people, I found my dental people, and I found my speaker people. So it’s, it’s a couple of different niches, but I feel like those are that’s where I’m supposed to be and that’s something that I advise other HR consultants as well. I have a Facebook group called HR Consultants Mastermind that whenever I coach people in that group or when I do a workshop for people in that group, that’s one of the first things we look at is who is your audience? Who are you serving? And whenever they say something like, Well, I want to serve small businesses, okay, great. That’s like 90% of the businesses in the country. That’s not niching. Let’s figure out something else.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:05:19.01] Yeah. And I wish that I had done this a lot sooner. And I love your group, by the way, because it has a lot of HR consultants in a variety of stages in their career. A lot of them are just getting started. They haven’t even set up their LLC yet. So there’s a lot of kind of those kinds of questions. But then there are contract questions or, Hey, I’m looking at doing some marketing and how do we partner with people. So it’s really nice to have a space where we can help each other because I feel like when I’m at a conference, an HR conference, I am there to build relationships, to promote my business, to talk about my business, not necessarily connect with other consultants for, you know, kind of peer mentor support.

Kara Kelley: [00:06:05.69] Well, and at those conferences and even in some of the HR organizations that provide education for HR professionals for maintaining their certification or just education in general, there’s not a lot of business education. There’s not a lot of here’s how you become an independent HR consultant education. It’s HR, but it’s not HR consultants. So there’s limited resources. I feel like that available for specific HR Consultants running their own firm. And so I’m glad we have that space.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:06:34.50] Agreed. Well, let’s kind of switch gears back to your HR consulting and talk about your approach and how you work with business leaders as part of your advisory firm.

Kara Kelley: [00:06:44.43] So not only am I niching in a specific field, a specific profession that I work with, I’m also niching in my services. I would be if I were at a larger company and HRBP, an HR business partner for these practices. I am not a third-party outsource service provider. I don’t run payrolls, I don’t do recruiting, I don’t do HRIS implementation. I am primarily working with employee relations, policy development, and total compensation, as well as leadership training and mentorship and coaching in that side of things. But it’s all from the strategic side. It’s not from the granular tactical HR side of things. There are amazing companies out there that do that and do it far more efficiently than I could as a solopreneur, so I happily refer all of those things out. That allows me to really focus on the things that I love to focus on and the things that my clients are sorely missing in their professions because these are things they don’t learn in medical school how to lead a team. They get out of medical school and they go and work for a practice as an associate and then decide one day that they want to start their own practice. And it’s like, where do I find these people and what do I do with them when I get them? Um. Laws, employment laws? What are those? We have, we have compliance here, too? Oh, my goodness. So that’s the world that I live in, and that’s the gap that I tend to fill.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:08:00.43] I love that. And any anyone who’s thinking about being an HR consultant, I think the first few minutes of this podcast are a great place to start. I’ll put the link to the to the group, the mastermind Facebook group for HR consultants. That’s so fantastic in the show notes of this particular episode as well. But the topic of this podcast is not consulting, although we could talk about that I think for days and days. The topic of today’s podcast is artificial intelligence. Not a day goes by that I don’t get some sort of PR pitch that’s talking about ChatGPT and how it is going to change HR, or a lot of rumors around the end of the world. Business is shifting. All these people are going to be unemployed. What do we do now? So I want to talk not about those things, but talk about practical uses of artificial intelligence and human resources. So maybe let’s talk about how you’ve been using AI tools in your HR consulting work to support your clients.

Kara Kelley: [00:09:07.16] Well, ChatGPT is actually one of the first ones that I have started using pretty regularly, and I know you’ve played with it as well. It’s, it’s kind of exciting. I don’t recommend using it to produce your work, but it’s certainly great for inspiration. I’ve used it personally for drafting things like policies that aren’t in my standard handbooks, for example, for doing articles, getting some inspiration for articles. I don’t actually sit there and, you know, type in questions and then copy and paste it into anything for an article. But I definitely use it for inspiration for that, for marketing, for Facebook posts, and so on. And so I feel like that’s actually a really great tool for us to, to start looking at.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:09:46.95] Agreed. I do love ChatGPT. I used ChatGPT this morning and I said “give me seven study tips” and I just wanted them short. Now, I know these because I do, we offer HR certification prep courses, but I just needed something small and I even focused on the character limit so that I could record some short videos for use on TikTok and reels. There are a lot of different ways to use it. I actually had a woman in our HR certification study group on Facebook who was like, Does anybody have a policy for ChatGPT? So I asked ChatGPT to write me a policy about it.

Kara Kelley: [00:10:26.40] I love it.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:10:27.24] And I think I’m going to write a blog post because there’s really like, according to ChatGPT, seven different areas that they feel like businesses should be concerned about, but this is the way you can use it. I think it can help with like inspiration or just kind of getting you started if you’re stuck. My team is using it to respond to general questions that come through. Granted, I have maybe somebody like, Where do I go to file for unemployment? I might get those kind of things. And so instead of them bugging me, they’ll ask ChatGPT to give a kind of a basic answer. We also use it to write code. So if we’re stuck with some code, we can ask ChatGPT to help us figure it out. Even like email templates or copy if you need a form made. I asked for an offer letter and you can make it really fun. Like I asked Yoda from Star Wars to write an offer letter to Patrick Starfish from SpongeBob SquarePants, which was interesting. So your creativity is really unlimited, except for you.

Kara Kelley: [00:11:35.56] I love that. I mean, in another way, HR professionals can use it for their companies for internal, is things like newsletters. We’re constantly looking for content to communicate with our employees and give them information and so use it for something like that. My goodness, it’s going to turn a two-hour process of trying to sit there and get through writer’s block and figure out what to write this week into like a two-minute exercise, if that.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:11:58.30] It’s interesting because I’m starting to see people using ChatGPT to write the scripts for like their presentations, which I am not there, especially when I think about the nature of what we do as HR leaders and recruiting professionals. This data set is only I think 2021 is, is the most recent. So if anything’s changed in between 2021 and present, it’s probably not always 100% accurate. But as your point, it can get you a start.

Kara Kelley: [00:12:31.60] Absolutely. Absolutely. And as it grows, it’s going to get better and better. It’s going to far surpass our ability to create. I kind of wonder at some point if our younger generations coming up are going to be able to write and be able to create because they’re growing up with this type of technology and those are the people that are coming into your workforce. And so I think it’s great for them to have a working knowledge of it. I think that they’re at a really exciting time, but also kind of wonder how that’s going to change our, our creativity and our critical thinking skills going forward. And we have all of these things that do it for us.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:13:05.02] Yeah, it’s, it’s going to be I mean, I don’t want to be scared. I want to think about the positive benefits of, of tools like this. I, they’re not going to replace human resources, but they’re going to take over or assist in certain areas that maybe it’s not the best use of our personal energy or our time. And you know what I’m talking about? I’m talking about the employees that come into the office and want like information on FMLA leave or, you know, basic maybe tips for managers. We can start to use these AI tools to help us when we’re thinking about ChatGPT. AI is already in most HR technology tools, whether.

Kara Kelley: [00:13:49.35] We’ve been using AI for decades at this point.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:13:51.81] Yeah, so it’s not new. Which is why I think it’s funny that every time I get a press release, it’s like, AI, it’s the newest thing. No, it’s been around. If you’re using an applicant tracking system or a job board that matches candidates, that is likely. Artificial intelligence tools.

Kara Kelley: [00:14:10.26] Yeah, absolutely. If you’re using performance management. But to your point, it’s, it’s not going to replace HR at this time. We are still going to be able to keep the human and human resources. And for a recent example, I asked ChatGPT to write me an employee handbook for a particular state, just for giggles. I was going to see it, at what point we are or how advanced we are with this particular system. And it gave me something like a two-page, very vague, very generic and fluffy, no real actual employment law that was available in it. And I’m sure that will change in the future. But as it stands now, it’s certainly not doing our job for us.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:14:47.20] No, it’s not. And it’s interesting because AI is not actually, there’s some litigation going on. I’m not the expert on this, but I’ll put the link in the show notes for it. But there is a lawsuit that’s happening at present with an AI tool who is providing free legal advice. And that AI tool has not passed the Bar Exam. So, I mean, I think that there’s still a lot of, of things that can happen. But I think it’s important for people to be aware of it. Maybe to utilize it and become informed because chances are their employees are familiar, and certainly leadership or at the executive team is thinking about utilizing or wanting to know more information.

Kara Kelley: [00:15:35.32] Well, and to that point, it’s good for HR people to be aware that there’s an intellectual property issue with the outputs from some of these AI programs that if you have team members who are basically typing in a question, getting an answer, and then publishing that as their own work, that there can actually be an IP legal issue going forward. And I’m not an attorney and neither are you. So neither of us are giving legal advice on this podcast, but it’s something for HR people to be aware of that that they do need to allow employees to use this as a way to motivate and a way to inspire work, but not to use it as a way to do all of their work for them, especially if that work is going to be published anywhere.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:16:16.22] That’s a good point. And that was one of the policies that ChatGPT wrote for me, which, which I thought was interesting. And I have a new book that’s published by SHRM, and there’s a need for more information, right? Because ChatGPT and these AI tools are not HR experts, they don’t have our experience. They’re just pulling from the web and, and what they think they know or whatever the capabilities of their code. But there has been a host of books that have been written and submitted to publishers that have been written by AI. And you’re right about the intellectual property piece. So I would just be informed. I know that SHRM has some resources on this, too, because you could get, not yet, but we’re on our way for some, from, for some court decisions to be coming in terms of who owns what. And certainly ChatGPT they own the content even though you prompted all the content.

Kara Kelley: [00:17:21.95] HR doesn’t have to be the expert at that. They just need to be aware that this is something they need to look into and stay on the edge of, stay ahead of. And I mean, even this is not just our modern technology. Even the AI that we’ve been using in the last decade or so is still not accurate. There was a study by Harvard a couple of years ago that said something like 88% of HR executives were learned that their, their selection tools were rejecting qualified candidates because they were putting a significantly long list of requirements in there. And so, you know, people don’t have that on their resume. They’re not necessarily matching 80%, 90%. And so it was actually rejecting candidates that would have been perfectly qualified for the job. It’s just the data wasn’t in alignment. And so those tools that we’ve already been using aren’t 100% accurate. And so, again, we need to be aware of and make sure that we’re staying ahead of that. And sometimes, you know, getting human eyes on things, making sure that the tools that we’re using are actually valid.

Break: [00:18:18.00] Let’s take a reset here. My name is Jessica Miller-Merrell, and you’re listening to the Workology Podcast, which is powered by Ace The HR Exam and Upskill HR. Today we are talking with Kara Kelley, founder and CEO of Clinical HR, about a lot of things, including artificial intelligence, the future of HR and HR consulting. Before we get back to the interview, I do want to hear from you. Text the word “PODCAST” to 512-548-3005. Ask me questions, leave comments, and make suggestions for future guests. This is my community text number and I want to hear from you.

Break: [00:18:54.00] Personal and professional development is essential for successful HR leaders. Join Upskill HR to access live training, community, and over 100 on-demand courses for the dynamic leader. HR recert credits available. Visit upskill hr.com for more.

Concerns Around Artificial Intelligence Technology


Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:19:10.02] We talked about intellectual property in one area in terms of I feel like there’s a danger but how do you recommend maybe that we broach the subject of the dangers or maybe just concerns of artificial intelligence technology in the workplace with our company leaders and people who are outside of human resources?

Kara Kelley: [00:19:29.93] I feel like the, the people who are leading teams who may be utilizing this technology need to be doing exactly what they should be doing anyway. What they’ve should been doing for the last, you know, since work was created and making sure that they’re managing their people, that they’re leading their people and using it in a way themselves that is appropriate. And then checking in with their team, making sure that their team is doing what the company wants them to with the particular technology that’s provided that they’re not just trying to get all of their work done by outsourcing it to bots at this point, and then just having those conversations and setting that expectation. I mean, that’s what we do as leaders. Whether we’re an HR or whether we’re frontline leaders or corporate in the C-suite, we should be setting that expectation of how we want this technology to be utilized and then making sure that the team that we’re, that we’re hiring, the team that we’re motivating and leading, are in alignment with that philosophy.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:20:28.19] People are so important and they will remain to be important. I feel like I is going to spotlight the need for more manager training because we need more human conversations. Because when you use a tool with AI, conversations with the developers and the programmers or in terms of how you’re utilizing it and for what purposes, and that is through coaching and conversations and building relationships with your employee population specially as a leader. So those things aren’t going away. AI can’t know those things.

Kara Kelley: [00:21:03.47] And it’s not, it’s not coaching them away from using it. There’s, there’s a lot of great technology out there, a lot of great AI out there that can help companies be far more productive. I mean, look at our onboarding, look at our onboarding and the videos and things that we’re creating to be able to make that easier, make that more replicable, to be able to, to provide to a mass audience rather than doing one on ones or even small group with some of our onboarding and training. There’s some great AI out there like Pictory, for example, Pictory.ai. And I’m, I’m not getting paid by any of these companies that I’m mentioning, by the way. So I just think they’re cool tools, but that’s one that can take a long-form video and chop it up into short-form content for a very reasonable price and very quickly. And so if you have a training or a benefits meeting that you’ve conducted and it’s been recorded, you can break that up into very digestible pieces because, you know, the workforce coming up today is grown up on TikTok and all of these short-form videos, I know you just know quite a bit about TikTok have your own channel, but it can take those, those long-form videos, the things that it’s really difficult for people to focus on for that period of time and make it a smaller, more digestible content where you’re actually getting that information across in a better format for the people that are in your organization.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:22:18.01] Yeah, we’re testing a couple of different ones right now to see how they work and if it will work. I mean, you would be using AI for Zoom transcription. If you go and read the podcast transcription of this episode, it was created by an artificial intelligence tool. It saves my team probably ten hours of time and then we go in and listen to the specific parts that maybe it didn’t get right, but it’s about 75% accurate. So if you use even like Zoom transcription for closed captioning, this is all AI-generated. So it’s making the workplace and the employee experience I think more accessible for everyone.

Kara Kelley: [00:23:01.18] Oh, absolutely. That was my next point to, to follow up was the closed captioning. Whenever you’re trying to create different ways that people can learn, that’s a form of accommodation is closed captioning for people who may be harder of hearing. Also and depending on what environment you have employees working in, it could be something that’s helpful for them to be able to do a training that they may not be able to listen to very well because there’s people around or whatever your technology ends up being where they can’t listen to it, they’re able to read it on the screen. So I love those types of uses of AI in our programs and, and then just in work in general.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:23:36.28] Any other like thoughts around the role that you think AI has in the future for human resources?

Kara Kelley: [00:23:43.57] So one of the things we’re not supposed to talk about as HR people is outsourcing our jobs. And unfortunately, we’re at a position in some places, and I’m seeing this a lot in health care where we can’t find people who are able to do the work. So I think it’s important as HR professionals that we know what’s out there and what might be able to replace a portion of a job to make it easier to hire somebody for that position, for the part that the human really does need to do. I can give an example of that. I work with a lot of, like I said, a lot of dentists. And so if you’re looking at something like insurance verifications, there’s companies that outsource that treatment planning. There’s companies that, you know, can, can assist with that as well. But it’s very difficult right now to find someone who is trained in that particular, in the billing and in the, you know, the treatment coordinator positions. So if we have AI that’s available, that can help someone who still needs to be there, still needs to have a job and be at work, but you’re able to hire somebody that doesn’t necessarily need to come 100% ready and qualified because you have tools to better help them do that job, then I feel like that’s something that we need to, to look at as a benefit and not look at it as, oh my gosh, this is going to replace somebody because ultimately it’s not at the end of the day, but it can help you build the workforce that you need by being able to hire less skilled workers and either train them faster or support them in that role.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:25:07.29] I’m going to go back to what we talked about at the beginning, which was the niching of the business. Okay. So the fear as a consultant is that if you niche in and get really specific that you’re missing out on all this money and all this opportunity and all this business when the actual opposite happens, all right. When we focus. So maybe we let AI do some of those other things. But when we focus on a certain area, like in our business, we’re like, okay, I’m going to work in dental chiropractic, all the things that you mentioned, now it’s specialized and now you’re an expert in this area. And I know when somebody comes up to me and goes, Hey, I need some help in dental HR, I could send you to 100 different consultants that I know, but I know that that is your expertise. So I send you that opportunity. I feel like AI is the same way. It’s very scary. Um, but when you specialize, then people know, like, you know what I do. And then you’re like, You can send all the people over to me. If we let artificial intelligence in these tools, take care of some of the lower hanging fruit of our jobs, you know, like I said, FMLA request forms, questions about how much PTO I have, where do I go to get my HR, like where to get my pay stub? Like you can go into a chatbot just like ChatGPT but for the, for HR, for your organization, you can say like here are the instructions of where you go. And then imagine if you didn’t have ten of those questions a day that each take five minutes a piece for you to answer what you might be able to do with your time.

Kara Kelley: [00:26:56.19] On revenue-generating activities, what?

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:26:58.49] Yeah, a revenue-generating in HR? Like, maybe. Like you can do those kind of things. I mean, I use, I try to use AI for absolutely everything that I can. It’s, it’s, it’s a form of delegation so that we can focus on the things that we’re really great at. One chatbot that I really do love and it’s called MeBeBot, MeBeBot. She’s here in Austin, the founder, her name is Beth White, a friend of mine I am, have been an advisor in the past, but I do love what they’re doing and that is exactly what it’s designed to do. It’s an AI tool where employees can ask questions so that we in HR don’t have to spend all our time answering all those questions that happen all the time. And we can just focus on the strategy or supporting managers, training people, whatever it is in, in our focus. So it’s just like your specialization, you don’t do the payroll processing, right? You focus on these other areas and now you can be really great at those things. AI will do that for us in our businesses as HR leaders.

Kara Kelley: [00:28:09.46] Absolutely. And I’m always happy to partner with the people who do specialize in those things and who love those things. Recruiting, for example. I love partnering with recruiters because I do not love recruiting. That is not my jam, but I know that it, it is for a lot of people and I have some that are specific to the profession that I serve, and so I love partnering with them and letting them take on those things and letting them work in their genius and their joy so I can work in mine.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:28:34.18] It’s, it’s a beautiful thing. I love, for me, like I just love hearing the stories and then sharing what I hear, right? And what I learn. That’s why I like writing. That’s why I like speaking. I, I believe that I am gifted in that area to be able to tell stories or take a concept that is really complicated and make it easy to understand through mostly the internet, video, audio, content, etcetera. And I think that when we decide where our lane is and then we focus in on those things, like anything is, is, is really possible. One of the things I do want to talk about is your lane. All right. And some of your work experience specifically as an advisor for healthcare practices. So talk to us about this area and kind of how you’re supporting these organizations.

Kara Kelley: [00:29:32.21] Well, like I said, I’m more of a strategic advisor for them. I very much know where I live and most of it is in things like employee relations and policy development. You know, I have a lot of doctors that I work with that. Maybe get their advice from places like Facebook groups or Reddit forums or, I don’t really know exactly. I’ve built a whole presentation, honestly, called Management Myths and Fateful Fallacies: Why You Shouldn’t Get Your HR Advice on Facebook. Literally, from the misinformation that I have seen in some of these groups specific to my profession, which, which is interesting. And so like you, I’m able to better impact people from a stage. I’d rather talk to a group of 100 people about some of the more common things that I’m seeing that are done wrong or some of the things that I feel like they should, should be doing, should be implementing rather than having that same conversation 100 times over. Because it’s, it’s definitely more scalable that way. And I just have a bigger impact. I have a mission of making workplaces more human, a mission of making dentistry, a place that people want to work. That’s what I love and that’s what I really feel like, that we could impact healthcare from that position by making healthcare practices, places that that employees want to be in, places that they want to work. And that in turn helps the patient. And so I feel like there’s a huge ripple effect to what I have the potential to do in the work that I’m doing.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:30:54.84] I think it’s interesting that we’re talking about focuses and kind of niches, but then we’re talking about AI, like I said, I feel like these tools can help open us up to specific areas. And if you’re an HR professional who’s like, I love payroll, you know what? We need you. And if you’re someone who really loves compensation, we need you, too. We need all these individuals within human resources that have those levels of genius and are willing to specialize because it continues to be more complicated. If I have to answer any more questions, as soon as someone, I tell someone that I work in HR now, they think I’m an attorney and I’m an expert and all the things I do not. I’m not an expert in California law. I had somebody asked me last week in my mastermind, they’re like, Hey, I have some HR questions. I have employees in California, and I’m like, how many people? Blah, blah, blah. And then I was like, Here’s the person you need to talk to. This is the person I know because I would be doing you a disservice. So find your vein, find your lane, and let us know what what you’re doing, because not everyone is well, I’m definitely not going to be able to take care of all the managers. You aren’t either that need our help or our business leaders.

Kara Kelley: [00:32:17.08] No. There, there’s always room for more people in HR. And whether that you’re talking about AI, using AI in HR or whether you’re talking about training managers, talking about DEI, talking about any vein of HR, there is always room for more there.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:32:30.64] There is and there will continue to be. I think it’s really funny, you mentioned TikTok like they all think that because I work in HR, I know all the things. There’s this one woman and I’m sure she, she keeps tagging me on all her stuff. She talks about 20 other people who are TikTokers in HR about an FMLA claim, intermittent FMLA claim for a family member that was denied and I’m not an expert in that area. I have a video that talks about what the steps are, but that is it. I am not an attorney. And so I think that our employees don’t understand that either. So we just need to keep going out there and sharing again and again. Maybe we’ll all get bots that say, Here are all your HR questions, use this bot and you’ll get your answers. But I specialize in XYZ. I don’t know, but I think that there’s more room for, for more conversations because employees need our help. And unfortunately on TikTok there are, a lot of them are very angry and have had a bad experience with somebody. And I can’t we can’t fix those things, but we can share resources and information to hopefully help more people.

Kara Kelley: [00:33:45.72] Absolutely. And think as we get further along with the Gen Z entering the workforce, as millennials start getting to be the, well, we already are the primary workers in the workforce. But then even getting toward exiting and whatever generation comes after Gen Z, um, we’re going to see a lot of, a lot of shifts, a lot of changes. And I think that AI specifically is going to be helpful with that. Um, for example, open enrollment. I have a, I have a Gen Z, I’m raising Gen Z. Um, I don’t think my 15-year-old is going to be able to look at a 20-page open enrollment packet and understand what it is. Even if she sits in a room with somebody talking about it, you know, for an hour while everybody else around her is glazing over and playing with their phones because their attention span is about eight seconds like a goldfish. Um, so how are we going to be able to get our workforce, our younger workforce to fill out open enrollment paperwork when we can’t even get them to focus on it or understand it? And so I think AI is going to be something that could help with that or possibly taking some of their data and creating some of those forms already pre-filled, creating some of that information and just saying, is this does this work for you? Yes or no? You know, that also brings up some other, other concerns with AI, some security concerns and some discrimination concerns that we also have to be aware of and look at. But I think that that’s the direction we’re going with some of these, because the pen and paper forms are, are long gone for most people as it is. But even some of these PDF fillables, I know that my husband’s company gets PDF fillable forms for their open enrollment and I’m like, Oh, I’m an HR person and I don’t even want to do that. Can we not just say, this is what you had last year? Check a box. Why? Why are we not there yet?

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:35:25.01] That, that would be great. I’m doing dual credit for my daughter for next year. And it’s like, it is like six hours or more and we are only halfway through for, for my soon-to-be ninth graders. So yeah, I’m doing it. She’s not doing it. She took the quiz and that was enough for her.

Kara Kelley: [00:35:46.23] And maybe that’s something we should probably start teaching our kids is how to fill out paperwork. But it’s not just going to be them. It’s going to be a whole generation of people. And as HR, those are the people that are going to be in our workforce. So yeah, we have to be prepared for that.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:35:57.87] So what’s on the horizon or what do you feel like in your work right now are some of the focus areas for you for the rest of, of this year?

Kara Kelley: [00:36:08.34] I have to get a book written. You know.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:36:12.99] I’m going to work on another so come on. Let’s, let’s do this. It’s so fun. It’s scary, but it’s great. What do you think you’re going to going to write about?

Kara Kelley: [00:36:22.83] I already know what I’m going to write about. It’s going to be more of a culture focus, but I’m taking it from a little bit different lens, less of the fluffiear is what I usually call it, less of the fluffier. These are the things that our workforce deserves more of the psychological. This is why you’re making the decisions that you’re making as a leader. And here’s how you can make better decisions.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:36:42.71] I love it.

Kara Kelley: [00:36:43.87] There’s a lot of my clients, like I said, they come from health care. They went through medical school. They were told they weren’t good enough. It was very difficult for them. They spent ten years being told they weren’t good enough and they’re afraid. So a lot of their decisions that they make come from a place of fear. And I feel like that’s, that’s actually a lot of leaders in general. They’re afraid of making a mistake. They’re afraid of losing money. They’re afraid of losing their teams, afraid of losing their business if they’re the business owner. And so we make a lot of decisions that we do from a place of fear. And it’s not, not always the best decision.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:37:11.80] Yeah, I thought about all that this morning. I feel like in my yoga class. So, I mean, so much of what I, what I’ve done in the past in my business is fear-driven, not showing up a certain way or not publishing a book, right? Like it is scary to, to tell the world who you are and what you do and what you stand for. But also we need to help our managers make space and time to be able to figure those things out. So I think it’s a book that’s much needed in in the industry. I’m excited when, let me know when it comes out.

Kara Kelley: [00:37:46.12] What’s your upcoming book on? I know you recently published.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:37:49.45] I don’t Know Yet. I’m still working on it. Um, I have a few ideas. I, so for those who don’t know how books work like you have to come up with an idea and then you have to put together a proposal. And depending upon how you, where you choose to publish, that normally will dictate the kind of the rules of engagement, whether you have a literary agent or whatever. I’m going to go back with SHRM and be published again. So I have 5 or 6 ideas that I’m rolling around. You have like a 30-page proposal that you put together. So who knows? We should, we should have a cocktail and talk about it for sure.

Kara Kelley: [00:38:34.66] We should. Absolutely we should. I will have coffee with that because that’s my drink of choice.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:38:39.88] That works. That works. Mocktails are good, too. Thank you so much for taking the time to, to chat with us. Where can people go to learn more about you and the work that you do?

Kara Kelley: [00:38:51.31] I mean, if you’re an HR professional, I’m always happy to connect on LinkedIn. I also have a website, ClinicalHR.com. My email, [email protected]. If you have a question about that and then if you are considering or currently working as an HR consultant, I would love to have you as a member of my group.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:39:08.00] Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Kara. It was great to catch up and we’ll have you back on when the book is ready to go. I’m excited. Wonderful.

Kara Kelley: [00:39:18.08] Appreciate the invite. It was an honor.

Jessica Miller-Merrell: [00:39:20.36] Conversations about the ethical use of AI tools in HR are so important. We need to be familiar with these tools. We need to get comfortable being uncomfortable and start experimenting. We need to have more conversations because these conversations spark change. As HR leaders, it’s important that we support our organizations with training and resources that can improve productivity in a way that sets your company up for long-term success. And AI is a part of that. It’s important to understand and ensure that AI technology does not create bias in recruitment or hiring or in our jobs as supporting organizations with a focus on human resources. I appreciate Kara for sharing her expertise with us today on the podcast, and I want to thank you for joining the Workology podcast. It is sponsored by Upskill HR and Ace The HR Exam. These are two courses that Workology offers for HR certification prep and re-certification. This podcast is for the disruptive leader who’s tired of the status quo. That’s me. That’s you. Let’s change the workplace together. My name is Jessica Miller-Merrell. Thank you so much for tuning into the Workology Podcast. Before we go, if you have a suggestion, idea, or guest, please text the word “PODCAST” to 512-548-3005. Leave me questions, ask comments, and let me know about future guest recommendations. Have a fantastic day. I’ll see you soon.

Connect with Kara Kelley.



– Kara Kelley on LinkedIn

– Clinical HR

– Compete With Culture by Kara Kelley 

– Circa 2118: What Humans Will Do When Machines Take Over by Peter Weddle 

– Artificial Intelligence for HR: Use AI to Support and Develop a Successful Workforce by Ben Eubanks 

– HR Consultants Mastermind Facebook Group

– Finding it hard to get a new job? Robot recruiters might be to blame | The Guardian

– Episode 383: Finding the Hidden Gems Within the Organization With Dr. Edie Goldberg, Founder of E. L. Goldberg & Associates

 – Episode 382: Human Resources as a Business Partner With Lisa Novak From data.world

 – Episode 380: Astrology and Human Resources With Jessica Munson

 – Episode 379: How to Create a Sense of Belonging With Jackye Clayton From Textio

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