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You spot a new job advert you love the look of. You update your CV, double check your references and send it across. In rapid succession you find your CV being screened, your background being investigated and follow up questions being sent over.

Is this the world’s most efficient HR professional? No. It’s a new tool which is making a massive splash in almost every aspect of business – Artificial Intelligence (AI).

So, could AI be used to make Human Resources well, less human? From a HR professional point of view, AI may be used to streamline the recruitment process. From conducting detailed candidate research to allowing chatbot technology to decipher the best questions to ask new potential employees.

Beyond the recruitment process, AI could be used to highlight performance issues, identify changes in employee sentiment and even make recommendations on the termination of employment. It could also be used to streamline and increase the value of the onboarding process. Quickly and efficiently working out which areas of operation need more coverage and those which are easily communicated.

This may all seem positive to the busy HR professional. But as an industry which relies so heavily on human interaction and rational, could AI really be the saviour it promises to be?

Unemotional Intelligence

Understandably, many employees are concerned about the application and vast scope of AI within the HR process.

With the removal of human rational, comes decisions based purely on process rather than calling upon common sense to make alterations and intervene when they are not working in the business’s best interest.

One rather unbelievable example of this is the case of Ibrahim Diallo. This case highlights the potential issues of trusting AI to recognise human errors and make adjustments where appropriate. Ibrahim found himself experience a myriad of denials of access to systems at his business. After three weeks of personal and business confusion, Ibrahim discovered his previous manager had failed to update his contract of employment. Even once the error had been discovered, Ibrahim’s supervisors were unable to remedy the issue through intervention.

AI is only as good as the data you input. The tools learning process is based on analysing past experiences and data and then applying that information in a decision making process. If the past experiences and data is incorrect then AI will not make the best decisions.

No more humans in HR

Another understandably concerning aspect of adopting AI widely across HR processes is the potential for it to make the employment of many HR professionals obsolete. Although initially this may cost save and speed up processes, in the long term it removes the benefit of professional human experience. Ultimately this will lead to AI inevitably making poor decisions which will be difficult or impossible to remedy.

Based on AI’s learning process and without intelligent human intervention, once bad decisions have been made by the system, these bad decisions are likely to compound over time. This will ultimately lead to disaster for the business in question.

Yet this ability to learn from past experience and continue to develop decision making based on new data and inputs is the exact reason why many HR software vendors are working towards incorporating AI into their products and services.

HR – more than just processes

When you really look into the full scope of human relations, it becomes obvious that AI certainly cannot replace all of these areas:

Staffing and recruitment

This includes the full selection and recruitment process, pay, employee benefits and the termination of employment. This activity relies on ethical hiring practices being applied by HR professionals.

Pay grade & compensation

Human resource teams are responsible for setting, monitoring and editing pay grades and scales within an organisation. This includes market research into industry norms as well as understanding the value of each employee to the business as a whole.

Professional development

HR are also widely responsible for staff training and development. This translates to the continuous search of individual and organisational needs and creating development plans to help current staff fill those skill gaps.

Health & safety

Compliance to health and safety regulations is another key element of the HR functions responsibility. This will include making changes in the workplace to ensure the continual meeting of standards.

Employee wellbeing

This responsibility involves ensuring that all employee rights are adhered to. This will usually involve acting on all employee claims and disputes as well as monitoring any breaches of current regulations. This may often lead HR professionals to representing the organisation in negotiations.

It takes a human…

Human resources professionals are constantly working to the ultimate goal of achieving optimal performance. This is achieved through the continuous improvement of both the employees and the organisation as a whole. This direction makes it clear why many professionals within the industry are keen to implement automation through AI where possible, speeding up the process of achieving this goal.

Many professionals even bet on AI transforming HR entirely.

However, are we really likely to see humans disappear from human resources? It’s unlikely. Just like we saw predictions during the 19th-century industrial revolution that all labour work would become a thing of the past, similar predictions in the 21st century are likely to produce similar results. After all, AI will need a human input if it is to remain effective at its job.

Studying the history of the industrial and technological revolution shows that the loss of jobs is always a concern in certain industries. However, these fears are invariably unfounded. Although, in many cases, those which operate in these industries do have to retrain and develop new skills in order to keep up with the revolution.

AI is not all-encompassing

As it goes, AI is not as intelligent as it might seem, at least not yet. In fact, most AI which is used to undertake complex tasks such as HR functions still requires at least some element of human supervision. This is primarily due to the fact that is cannot replace human rational and reasoning.

AI is unlikely to ever be able to judge the emotional elements of human resources. This includes understanding whether a potential candidate is really going to fit in with their new team or being able to offer true empathy during a difficult time.

Even the more basic functions such as a chatbot being used for interview questions will need to be sense checked by a human HR professional to ensure that common sense is being applied throughout the interview process.

All-out battle or collaboration opportunity?

You may have guessed it already. The answer to whether AI is the future of HR is in many ways – yes. But will that future mean no human HR professionals? It is highly unlikely.

Rather than being a case of AI vs HR professional, it is more a case of working out how HR professionals can work with and leverage AI to their advantage.

The key to understanding the benefits of AI and contributing to a positive adaptation experience is to see it as not only a time-saver but a boost to current operations. Those that are currently in or are looking to become a HR professional should keep an eye on the latest AI developments and focus their career on developing their relationship with such technologies.

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