How will AI Impact the HR Industry in 2019

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Artificial Intelligence is revolutionizing the workforce – for the better. Here’s what HR professionals need to know in order to harness it.

Do you remember in your childhood when people asked you questions like: “What do you want to be in the future?” I doubt you or other children answered that question with “a robot”.  However, with recent technological advances such as artificial intelligence (AI), the idea of being replaced with robotic equipment has become a realistic notion.   

In any advanced economy, as in the United States, many of the jobs can and likely will be automated yet that doesn’t mean you and your colleagues are becoming extinct. 

Here are some insights for HR leaders contemplating the potential impact of AI on their own workforces:

As job tasks shift, AI is here to help

Within the last decade or so, jobs have become automated and existing work will be transformed. For example, accountants and other professions with standardized data gathering tasks will have digital coworkers helping them with mundane tasks. This does not mean that robots will replace us but instead assist us with the routine and menial tasks – like any current computer does today.  

The modern evolution of work can be traced back to the second industrial revolution when machines bolstered the human workforce. As we entered the information age, automation created efficiencies, and now the enterprise is entering yet another paradigm shift – the introduction of intellectual work. Yet, HR departments are lagging in evolving and adopting available tools, namely AI, to keep pace. 

According to a recent Deloitte report, only 31 percent of respondents said they feel ready to leverage AI in their businesses. It is imperative that we, as HR leaders, honestly confront the way our roles are changing and rethink how we can utilize the tools available to meet the needs of our evolving businesses.

The role of HR is changing

HR needs to do a better job of understanding how to leverage AI in the future and how it will impact the workforce at large. Many organizations have already seen its impact in their IT and customer service functions. Contact centers, a field notorious for burnout, has adopted technology to better assist employees with tasks resulting in increased employee performance and customer satisfaction. According to The US Contact Center Decision-Makers’ Guide 2017, over a third of US-based contact centers had an over 30% employee attrition rate. Human employees had a lower call volume, with the help of technology, which allowed them to spend more time with customers on more uncommon issues where they can provide real value and assistance. 

To successfully implement any transformational technology, it will require that HR upgrade their own skill sets and understand how AI benefits the business and the employees. One way to do so is to pick a business problem in one unit, such as onboarding and pilot a solution. By doing so, new employees will get used to the technology and the HR-department will get instant feedback. 

AI’s impact on wages and income

There is no denying that the rhetoric around job replacement and wage-loss due to automation and the introduction of AI elicits a lot of fear, especially at a time when those most affected by economic trends are less inclined to view any corrective measure with any confidence. However, this narrative fails to reflect the reality that automation is about inclusion and serving the many rather than enriching the few. 

As we move forward to a time of unprecedented change, HR needs to adapt and ensure that all parties of an organization, from the C-suite to the intern are all on board. HR departments have an essential part to play in training humans to work alongside machines. As HR continues to gain a full understanding of how AI impacts their organizations, we are seeing growth in employee experience. 

The World Economic Forum predicts that “current estimates would suggest a decline of 0.98 million jobs and a gain of 1.74 million jobs.” To many, the focus is on job loss rather than the gain. To change the narrative, HR departments should discuss that although AI is replacing low-productivity roles, higher-productivity roles are being created. This is leading to higher incomes and overall better living standards for millions. 

As technology continues to revolutionize the workforce, it is incumbent on HR leaders to embrace and adopt the latest tools, such as AI, that better positions themselves and the employees of their businesses to thrive in this new age. By doing so, the workforce will be more efficient, better paid, and more engaged. This is something both business owners and employees alike can get fully behind.  

Learn MoreHow AI is Driving the Next Wave of Digital Transformation

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