What's the real impact of automation on HR leadership? How can teams redesign hiring processes to complement the emergence of AI?
Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are making office inroads. According to Human Resources Director, these technologies will likely surge over the next three years as organizations look to boost efficiency and reduce total overhead.
For HR, this speaks to a need for new recruiting practices as they look to complement AI and automation advancement with uniquely-human skills. For employees, meanwhile, there's the fear of losing work: Fortune speaks to robots "stealing" up to 800 million jobs by 2030.
Ultimately, however, the real impact of automation on employees and HR isn't loss but adaptation. Here are six key skills HR teams need to prioritize in the arriving age of AI.
1. Critical Empathy
As noted by the BBC, while robots are getting better at recognizing emotion and mimicking the appropriate human response, jobs that rely on empathy — such as full-time caregivers and healthcare workers — aren't great fits for intelligent technology. This also extends to more traditional corporate workplaces. While AI may be great at making long-term profit predictions or handling big data generated by HR, it lacks the ability to fully understand and empathize with the human condition.
What does this mean for HR? "Soft skills" are more important than ever. While AI can do the heavy lifting, human empathy is required to craft both internal and external messaging that resonates with stakeholders and consumers.
2. Curated Knowledge
Specialized knowledge is another area where humans have the edge. According to HBR, the ability to dive deep into content areas and deliver actionable expertise is a key advantage for human employees. Expert staff gains a reputation for their depth of understanding, which in turn drives better results and more specialized learning. As a result, HR teams need to prioritize hiring and training staff with defined areas of expertise. Paired with AI, these experts give businesses the edge across general data trends and in-depth industry evolution.
3. Understanding Context
Machines are notoriously bad at understanding context. Consider AI chatbot "Tay," designed to interact like a human being on Twitter. In less than 24 hours, the bot was tweeting some highly offensive statements because it lacked the ability to recognize context. In the workplace, meanwhile, humans deal with context all the time. Management is a hierarchy of humans with different experiences, needs and goals. Recognizing context means knowing how to frame particular requests and recognize the impact of corporate cultural dynamics on day-to-day interactions.
By prioritizing great context recognition, HR teams can help foster improved AI performance by eliminating confusion.
4. Improved Communication
Talk isn't cheap — it's essential for businesses to achieve corporate goals. The challenge? Face-to-face communication skills are in decline as text and email conversations take pride-of-place to improve efficiency. AI tools can easily send emails full of data or text messages topped up with statistics, but they fall flat in board meetings and video chats.
This matters for HR because data alone won't convince C-suites to act, stakeholders to invest or customers to purchase. Prioritizing human-to-human communication skills in new hires makes it easier to translate hard data into actionable insight.
5. Adaptive Problem Solving
As noted by Scientific American, AI tools are getting better at creative endeavors, but they still can't match humans. Why does this matter for human resources hiring practices? Because solving day-to-day problems and large-scale corporate crises often requires creative thinking — the ability to implement adaptive problem solving as required and create solutions that fit the challenge. Consider the simple example of dropping something behind the washing machine. While AI might recommend hauling the heavy machine out from the wall to retrieve the item, a human will grab a broom or stick and attempt to minimize the work involved.
Bringing on creative employees provides more room to leverage data gleaned from automation and artificial intelligence, in turn providing greater ROI.
6. Teaming With Technology
The impact of automation on employees is often seen as a replacement; robots will perform jobs better than humans and make them redundant. But according to Entrepreneur, the actual outcome is more of a give-and-take — humans will not only bolster robot data collection with context and communication, but assist when factors beyond their control render robots unable to complete their work.
For example, a human data analyst might recognize that their AI partner is using outdated or corrupted information, which could lead to problematic recommendations and give the human a chance to supply it with more accurate sources.
It's worth building new HR recruiting processes that incorporate comfort and familiarity with AI and automation. By making these tools part of corporate culture rather than viewing them as work-stealing "outsiders," organizations can encourage a partnering process that boosts human efficiency and reduces the chance of accidental machine error.
The Automation Impact
Automation has arrived, and AI isn't far behind. For HR leaders, this means leaning into the trend and developing new recruitment practices designed to prioritize human skills that complement — rather than compete with — emerging technologies.
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