It’s time for HR departments to view AI as a partner, not a threat

June 14th, 2019

Since artificial intelligence (AI) first became a part of the conversation about workplace productivity, it’s faced a tough audience. We humans have an innate tendency to fear uncertainty and speculation, and for many people, AI comes with both.

Many employees and employers alike have harboured a resistance to embracing AI, with common fears in the workplace including:

  • “AI will replace my job”
  • “AI is going to make my skills and experience irrelevant”
  • “AI can’t be trusted”
  • “It’s too risky to give a computer control of my important work”

You might be surprised to learn that AI is already being used widely in some of the world’s largest and most successful organisations including Amazon, Walmart, Facebook, IBM and Coca-Cola. And, despite common misconceptions, the impact of AI technologies has been pretty positive.

Scott Waltezke, Head of Enterprise Recruitment Strategy at Adecco Staffing USA, sums it up nicely: “The overall temperature of conversations completely changed. 2017 was robots are going to steal our jobs … now there is starting to be this embrace of technology.”

In this blog post, we’ll tackle some myths about AI and show you how can deliver huge benefits for HR teams.

Fact: AI isn’t replacing jobs – it’s creating them

Technology advances have had transformational impacts on many industries, particularly those with highly manual work (such as manufacturing). Many people fear that, with the rise of AI, the job losses experienced in such sectors will occur in more industries.

People don’t always realise that technology-led transformation can often be a catalyst for job creation. For example, a 2018 World Economic Forum report showed that, while 75 million jobs will be displaced globally by 2022, AI will create 133 million new roles – that’s a net gain of 58 million jobs.

Job creation happens because AI delivers the most benefits when it’s complemented by humans. AI simply doesn’t have the capacity to replace the uniquely human traits of creativity, empathy, human interaction and complex problem-solving – but it can certainly free up the workforce to spend more time on tasks that demand these skills.

Fact: AI is driving innovation

AI isn’t just a means of automating manual processes – it also helps organisations to analyse data and generate powerful insights to drive innovation. For example, the HR team at Adecco is using machine learning to better understand its potential employees and to help forge personalised one-on-one with candidates.

There’s also huge potential for HR teams to leverage data to predict trends and changes among their workforce, ranging from identifying when an employee is likely to leave the organisation to getting on the front foot about employees’ training needs.

Fact: AI is boosting employee engagement

Almost every job has elements that are highly, manual and often boring. The good news? AI has the potential to make people’s jobs easier and more enjoyable by automating the more repetitive components. This frees people up to focus on the high-value parts of their job that uniquely require human capabilities. For example, using AI to screen hundreds or thousands of job applications can free up staff to invest their time and energy in candidates with a higher likelihood of being successful.

In addition, AI can improve the employee experience by making it easier for staff to access the information they need. For example, bots are increasingly being used as a real-time way of helping staff get their general and specific HR questions answered.

Where to from here?

While the tide is turning to recognise the benefits of AI in the workplace, there’s still more work to go. Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends report found that although 72 percent of respondents understand the importance of AI to their business, only 31 percent feel ready to embrace it.

If you’re ready to kickstart your AI journey, Cloud Collective can help you get there. Contact us or download our latest white paper: AI-driven employee engagement: How to attract and retain talent in the modern workplace, to find out how.