AI has been the buzzword for quite some time now and one can hear it being pitched almost everywhere – monthly meetings, symposiums, conferences, etc. While the benefits of AI are aplenty, the task of actually implementing it takes a lot of thought.
It can get pretty overwhelming for most HR professionals to jump onto the bandwagon and go on an ‘automation’ spree!
Due to advanced data driven technology, most functions that fall within the purview of HR management are increasingly being optimised, independent of human intervention.
There is no denying… Artificial Intelligence (AI) has enabled the HR experts to focus on the bigger picture and revamped the way companies hire, manage and engage with their workforce.
But, there’s always the doubt if using AI can replace human judgement. There could be a lot of situations where putting all your blind faith in automation could backfire!
Let’s take a look at how AI contributes to simplifying the HR function and where it could end up having disastrous consequences!
How has AI Helped HR?
According to India Report of Deloitte’s 5th Annual Global Human Capital Trends, 53% companies are revamping their HR programs to deploy digital tools, while 22% have already leveraged AI to deliver HR Solutions.
First, let’s touch upon where AI has helped HR….
- Measure employee engagement and problem areas to improve work culture by predicting workforce trends.
- Gain relevant insights into data that help HR professionals to retain and motivate existing employees and also recruit new ones.
- Solving HR related queries such as applying for leaves, collating and completing employee data etc. by simulating conversations with human users over the internet through computers or mobile devices.
- Customise employee-related trainings.
- Reduce human bias by carrying out employee assessments via regular, unprejudiced performance appraisals.
- Simplify recruitment with the help of an ATS (Applicant Tracking Software) that can analyse endless resumes based on keywords, location, qualification and expertise.
While the benefits of AI might make it appear almost invincible, it could actually backfire and lead to unfavourable consequences. Let’s understand the why and how!
Where HR Needs To Be Wary Of AI…
Here’s how AI might not work in favour of the organisation.
1. Reduced Employability
According to a recent study by Mckinsey, it was found that just under one third of activities that make up 60 percent of jobs will be automated. Unfortunately for new entrants, the bulk of these activities will be concentrated in the starter roles.
This means young graduates will not be able to enter the job market and companies will mostly rely on contract employees to fulfil tasks. Full-time employment will reduce drastically and governments around the world will be under the burden to guarantee everyone a basic income.
Disruptions in the overall labour market will definitely ensue.
2. Delayed Growth
Scaling a business will become an issue, as ‘training’ a machine using supervised knowledge can take 6 to 18 months, unlike human labour. A business performs hundreds of different activities and training machine learning systems each of these can take a significant time.
3. Expensive Tools
The cost associated with AI tools is another hindrance for organizations. For a recruitment firm with high volume hiring needs, to process loads of data through AI can mean huge costs which will ultimately be passed on to the companies.
4. Lack Of Adaptability
AI can help cut down on repetitive tasks and bring about automation. But it certainly cannot deal with sensitive workplace issues. Humans can adapt to change, unlike an algorithm which is trained or programmed to respond to known behaviours.
Humans are unpredictable and the AI will not necessarily have a solution to alleviate day to day fears and apprehensions amongst the workforce.
Coming Back To Our Original Question: Will AI Replace Humans?
One of the biggest debates facing the HR industry is whether AI will significantly replace humans!
But is it even possible for machines to completely replace the human resources?
A robust AI system will run algorithms that:
- Require millions of data points to recognize patterns and learn from it.
- Make predictions based on past outcomes.
If we consider the first point, AI systems are ideal for performing repetitive tasks (automation), like providing insights by detecting patterns and even engage with humans to address high-frequency issues with readily available solutions.
But what about tasks that require objective analysis, leadership, creative thinking and innovation?
As far as the second point is concerned, an AI algorithm will run explicitly as it is told. It is subjected to developer’s influence. It will make predictions because it has been “coded” to do so, but it cannot explain the rationale behind it.
What about the credibility of millions of data fed into the AI system?
It can’t assess what is right and wrong. It accepts input and churns out output without discerning the data quality.
This is AI’s fundamental weakness. Now consider applying this to HR, where hiring involves assessing a candidate’s attitude and credentials.
What is unique about the human element – more than acquired knowledge – is our decades of experience and emotions, combined with the penchant for risk-taking, that has been the foundation of innovations.
These experiences are unique to each of us, in dictating our lifestyles and achievements, and this makes it hard for an AI in recognizing patterns.
There are examples where machines would certainly be more efficient as compared to humans such as scheduling meetings, suggesting options in case of flight delays or in assembly lines, or even planning your entire team’s schedules maybe….
But as long as artificial intelligence has not evolved to a point where it can interact, engage, think, adapt and respond exactly in a fashion as a human can, it is impossible to be replaced by it.
Employees may not appreciate it either…
Additionally, it might backfire in case of gathering data on employee engagement and analysis.
They might not like being subjected to constant processes and algorithms. After all, it’s a machine that is incapable of understanding the ground realities facing employees and miss the ‘human touch’.
Therefore, it is necessary to have one-on-one interaction in situations that only humans can comprehend which makes them irreplaceable.
The Way Forward…
Rather than focusing on whether AI would replace the ‘human’ in HR, it is ideal to combine forces with it and focus on achieving organisational goals. An HR professional needs to pick up pace with the fast changing technology and learn new skills to take advantage of the digital workplace and AI. There needs to be a shift in focus on the user experience.
Stressing too much importance on the implementation of AI should not be at the cost of overall performance of an individual. HR needs to keep that in check along with learning the new systems.
A report by World Economic Forum suggested that collaboration between AI and Humans could boost revenues by 38% and employment by 10%. The majority of workers (62%) felt that AI would have a positive impact on their work.
Therefore, a workforce that is a blend of human beings and intelligent machines can be expected. A combination of the best of both worlds is what will revolutionize the HR world!