Applying artificial intelligence in the workplace doesn’t negate the need for HR

AI use isn’t a commonplace HR practice; but it’s growing.

As of 2017, more than one in 10 HR managers said they’d already seen evidence artificial intelligence use was becoming a regular part of HR work, according to a CareerBuilder survey. More than half — 55 percent — said they expected HR responsibilities to include AI by 2022.

As artificial intelligence use has increased, fears about jobs being eliminated have, too — among employees in various positions and HR professionals. More than a third of HR managers told CareerBuilder AI technology made them nervous.

The remainder of HR professionals, however, seem to understand a key notion: having a human element in the human resources department could, in the future, actually become more important than ever — for a few of the following reasons:

Some HR responsibilities require interaction

HR is one of the least automated departments, according to ServiceNow data; just 37 percent of its employee service delivery processes are automated. (In comparison, IT’s automated tasks comprise 53 percent of the department’s overall services.)

Aspects of certain HR duties — such as onboarding, one of the most infrequently automated tasks, according to CareerBuilder — might potentially benefit from AI assistance; HR functions could, for example, identify specific onboarding methods that would be effective with specific new hires, based on analytics involving their background, previous interactions with the company and role.

It’s unlikely, though, employers could automate the entire onboarding process. While they may be able to use technology to provide basic policy and procedure information, an HR professional can successfully integrate new hires into the company culture by physically introducing them to other employees and encouraging them to get involved in company activities — two things a digitized system can’t do.

AI isn’t an option for every organization

Smaller companies using AI in HR should, in theory, be able to benefit from it in many of the same ways larger organizations can; implementing AI technology, though, requires time and a monetary investment smaller enterprises may find difficult.

When asked what roadblocks AI use faces, 32 percent of human resource professionals cited the lack of a budget to upgrade or maintain the technology in a 2017 Allegis Group survey. Twenty-six percent expressed concern about having people in place to build or manage AI-centric HR tech procedures.

automation-robot-hr-805442-editedAutomated tasks may make HR more effective

HR managers whose work isn’t currently automated estimate they lose an average of 14 hours a week performing HR responsibilities manually, according to CareerBuilder. More than a quarter say they waste 20 or more hours a week.

Taking some menial chores — such as payroll processing or background checks, two of the most frequently automated HR responsibilities — off HR professionals’ plate may help free them up to perform work that’s of more importance to the organization.

To incorporate artificial intelligence in the workplace, research indicates many companies will need to make staffing and other preparations. While some (31 percent) have taken steps to address AI technology-related talent deficits, less than seven percent say their HR functions are ready to handle an increase in automation, according to a Willis Towers Watson survey.

With the rapid pace technology has advanced in recent years, AI use isn’t the only new practice HR departments may find can be challenging to implement.

For a brief crash course on some of the other tools and HR tech terms human resource professionals are utilizing, our HR hot list can help get you up to speed; if you’d like to learn more about how technology has changed human resource management, our posts on the employee experience going high tech, companies using AI in HR recruiting efforts and what benefits wearable devices can provide offer more information about current HR tech trends.

For a look at what may be next on the horizon, read our post on how augmented and virtual reality may fit into the workplace — or feel free to download our HR Tech of Tomorrow white paper.