In a rapidly evolving technological landscape, the role of human resources (HR) professionals is facing a paradigm shift.
Recent surveys and research indicate that the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into HR operations is both inevitable and transformative.
A staggering 63 percent of companies are currently reassessing their HR departments in light of the anticipated impact of AI, according to PwC research.
As AI capabilities expand, HR professionals find themselves at a crossroads, compelled to reimagine their roles in the modern workplace.
A recent survey conducted by People Management software provider Advanced uncovered a spectrum of opinions among HR professionals. The study revealed that 60 percent of HR professionals believe that AI will positively impact how HR operates. However, this optimism is juxtaposed with apprehensions regarding the potential loss of the personal touch that HR teams have historically provided.
HR is evolving
The ongoing integration of AI technology has sparked a renewed focus on the evolving nature of HR. While AI and automation have the potential to alleviate administrative burdens, they also raise questions about the future of human interaction in the workplace. HR departments, now often referred to as People and Culture teams, have long been dedicated to enhancing employee engagement and experience. Nonetheless, the prevalence of administrative tasks can hinder their pursuit of these goals. AI offers the prospect of streamlining these processes, yet the challenge lies in maintaining a personalised touch.
Alex Arundale, Chief People Officer at Advanced, emphasised the intricate balance between AI’s capabilities and HR’s unique functions. He pointed out that while AI can manage process-focused tasks, HR professionals play a crucial role in strategy and empathy, areas that machines struggle to replicate. Arundale underscored the importance of HR professionals evolving to remain relevant, embracing skills such as critical thinking, emotional understanding, creativity, and collaboration. He also highlighted the significance of gaining STEM skills to effectively harness AI’s potential.
The “front end” of HR
Arundale dispelled concerns of AI replacing jobs, instead highlighting how AI can reshape roles. He suggested that HR Business Partners could become the “front end” of HR, with AI managing transactions and routine tasks.
AI’s impact on HR extends beyond routine processes. Recruitment, for instance, stands to benefit significantly from AI integration. Research indicates that 70 percent of a recruiter’s time is spent on sifting through candidates. AI tools can revolutionise this process, from talent screening to candidate sourcing, boosting efficiency and enabling HR professionals to focus on high-value interactions.
The realm of HR innovation expands further with the advent of AI. Employee portals now offer real-time access to information regarding holidays, expenses, and payroll. Employee experience chatbots streamline tasks such as holiday requests, expense submissions, answering common queries, and even conducting sentiment and feedback surveys.
Additionally, AI-powered systems and Virtual Reality (VR) are revolutionising training methods by identifying skills gaps and enabling micro-learning.
Arundale concluded that HR leaders are taking ownership of technology platforms with a newfound people-centric approach. Instead of designing technology solely around organisational needs, HR professionals are adopting a perspective that empowers employees to manage their careers.
As AI continues to reshape the HR landscape, it is clear that while the industry may undergo significant transformation, the essence of human interaction and empathy will remain indispensable. The challenge lies in harnessing AI’s capabilities to enhance, rather than replace, the crucial functions that HR professionals bring to the modern workplace.
Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.