Will Artificial Intelligence Replace HR? Here’s What You Need to Know
Updated: Dec 14, 2020
Welcome to my weekly Q&A roundup. (Scroll down to find the Q&A.)
If this is your first time here, welcome. I spend a fair amount of time speaking at events and conferences. At the end of my presentations, I leave space for audience members to ask questions—tough questions, brave questions, you name it.
The level of candor and curiosity always inspires me, and I want to share that sentiment with you. So each week, I pick one question that I believe others would find most instructive and publish my response to it here.
The purpose of this weekly tradition is transparency and inclusivity.
• Transparency: a behind-the-scenes look at my day-to-day.
• Inclusivity: bringing others along in the journey.
How AI Changes the Role of HR
Will AI take your job?
There’s a tool for that. Just type your job title into the search box at willrobotstakemyjob.com and it will tell you the probability of AI replacing the type of work you do.
To test it out, I searched for “Lawyer” (because I wanted to be one during undergrad). That profession has a 4% probability of being replaced by AI, according to the website.
Meanwhile, “Paralegals and Legal Assistants” have a 94% probability of being replaced by AI.
Tools such as these are intriguing, riveting, maybe even harrowing. One thing they are not, however, is nuanced. They do not capture the complexities of the future of work. This Q&A will.
Will AI replace HR? If so, how should I prepare myself and my company? I currently work in a mid-level HR position.
AI will replace the role of HR if we let it. Remember, humans decide how and where to deploy AI. We hold the power. It’s easy to lose sight of this power dynamic amid the dramatic narratives and storytelling of the impending technological singularity, where robots defeat humans.
That’s why I love data, because it exposes these narratives for what they truly are. When we look at the data, we find that AI will lead us toward an optimistic future.
We Have Reasons (Data) to Be Optimistic
First, there’s the net new job creation to look forward to. By 2022, we can expect AI to displace approximately 75 million jobs while simultaneously creating 133 million new jobs across the occupational spectrum. On that note, 64% of people globally believe that technology will improve their job prospects, not diminish them.
The jobs that are “lost” to AI will be those that involve process-based, highly-routine, administrative tasks.
The jobs that AI creates will be those that rely on emerging digital skills such as machine learning, information security, and blockchain as well as roles that rely on intrinsically human skills such as empathy, ethical problem-solving, and emotional intelligence.
In addition to net new job growth, we can look forward to AI eliminating mundane tasks while enhancing human intelligence.
Instead of human versus machine, we will have human working alongside machine to drive business decisions that are equitable, sustainable, and in the company’s financial best interest.
This is called AI-augmented decision making, and Gartner predicts that AI augmentation will generate $2.9 trillion in business value and recover 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity by 2021.
AI Augmentation in HR
Where does the HR profession fit into all of this technological transformation? For one, we know that the market for HR technology is large, $148 billion large. We also know that 79% of talent leaders plan to integrate AI into HR processes by 2022.
Here’s a break-down of how leaders are expecting to integrate AI into their HR processes:
49% plan to use AI for talent acquisition
48% plan to use AI to improve the employee experience
46% plan to use AI for skills mapping
45% plan to use AI for recruiting
45% plan to use AI for processes automation
36% plan to use AI to personalize learning journeys
How HR Can Prepare for the Future of Work
You can prepare for these upcoming changes by asking yourself (and your colleagues) the following questions:
1. What business problems do we want AI to solve? What KPIs do we want AI to impact?
2. The HR-specific use-cases for AI fall into 12 categories. In which categories do these business problems and KPIs fall?
Core HR and payroll
Compensation and benefits
Succession planning and integrated talent management
Engagement and culture
Diversity, equity, and inclusion
Analytics and planning
3. What learning paths do we need to create to train employees on how to work with newly-integrated AI platforms?
4. What jobs and skills will our workforce need in the next 2, 5, and 10 years to meet the demands of an AI-augmented workplace?
5. What hard skills (such as data literacy) can HR start learning now?
I’ll leave you with this: AI in the workplace is not a zero-sum game. We can use technology to elevate the role of HR and unlock massive value for all stakeholders.
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