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FRESH PERSPECTIVES |

The Ingredients of a Modernized HR Environment


At the dawn of a new age of automation, a lot is changing in the workplace, and human resources is at the forefront. Yet the universal goal remains the same: hiring great talent and offering a great employee experience. Securing and retaining human capital that is aligned to the organization’s core values remains paramount. Today, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies provide significant value enhancing these priorities, as well as many others, across the HR function. 

Tools and applications with intelligent analysis capabilities are already playing a big role in helping HR teams sift through large amounts of employee engagement, performance and development data. As AI and ML advance, HR will continue to use these potent tools to find new means of organizing, strategizing and scaling delivery of a more personalized and relevant employee experience. The result will be the extinction of traditional HR practices and a new norm of weaving technology into our daily operations.

What are the ingredients of this modernized environment?

Task Automation

AI can complete many repetitive and tedious tasks that would otherwise require human cognitive capabilities. This allows HR teams to focus their time, talent and energy on strategic initiatives and consultative partnerships with employees and leaders. Perhaps HR automation’s greatest strength to date is the value it can add to daily operations. Using chatbots and tools with self-service and on-demand capabilities enables a much more rewarding employee experience. Recruiting and Related Employment Branding AI is disrupting how we connect with both active and passive candidates. Outreach efforts are more targeted and relevant for both prospect and recruiter. The marriage of technology and employment branding can be extremely valuable when adopting the right technology partner. Organizations can share their values and culture in an authentic yet relatable way, regardless of whom they need to hire and where.

New Assessment Techniques

Gamification offers new paths for candidate assessment. Using AI in digital interviews can assess verbal and nonverbal cues in facial expression and body language. Incorporating AI into résumé screening will increase selection efficiency and assess candidate fit based on potential rather than on past performance. For incumbent employee career pathing, data analysis can suggest possible career directions by assessing prior work experience, available development opportunities and employee performance trends.

Thoughtful Planning

Even with all of this helpful potential, limitations do exist. For instance, challenges may be specific and unique to each organization. Business problems must be identified and understood before AI can be considered and explored to determine how technology can be used to solve it. Some HR functions face budgetary constraints and lower organizational prioritization for investment. For national or international firms, local
priorities often conflict when determining what technology investment to make; unaligned systems and processes are problematic. Therefore, any new AI-based HR solutions need to fit into an organization’s current HR technology stack so data doesn’t end up sitting in silos.

Perspective

Of course, the emotional impact of significant disruption is always present. AI has inevitably triggered fear of mass unemployment, but it is transforming the workplace to be more human, not less. We are entering an era of human-machine partnership; technology is most effective when complementing humans, not replacing them. 

We must remember that AI isn’t used to automate jobs but rather to automate tasks, thereby increasing productivity and performance. AI will actually give employees opportunities to become more efficient, proactive and strategic rather than reactive, as unfortunately many of us are. 

HR has the role and responsibility to reaffirm for employees that the vital skills of creativity, complex problem solving and emotional intelligence will remain difficult for technology to replicate. To that end, HR will need a strategy — informed through analyzing what roles, processes and workflows will be reskilled by AI — to prepare, develop and train the workforce for structural job shifts.

Combine these ingredients and you’ll have a resilient, fortified HR environment that can help lead your organization through the disruption that AI is bringing to the workplace and the workforce. 

HR best supports an organization when we have insights and a plan aligned with the skills and roles needed to support growth. As HR leaders, we have to be open-minded and willing to adopt AI into our daily routines. AI will absolutely change the way we source, assess, hire, train, develop, pay and move people — for the better. Five years from now, I see HR being both digital and human, which requires a focus on
optimizing the combination of the two. HR teams and leaders must develop fluency in AI while shaping HR to be more personal and intuitive.

Ultimately, resourcing remains an inherently human domain. In that regard, intuition and emotional intelligence are still essential. Relationship-building and human-centric management must be balanced with the automated scalability AI enables. As we seek that
equilibrium in a time of unprecedented transformation and opportunity, now is the time for HR leaders to prepare for sweeping change.

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Sonia MathaiSonia Mathai is chief human resources officer at Globality.