Is Human Resources Automation in Our Future?

Are the famous science fiction stories about to come true? If you’ve seen the recent videos of robotic dogs opening doors and human-like robots telling jokes, that future may not seem far off. But in the corporate world, automation usually takes the form of software “bots” that can run manual tasks, communicate data between different systems, format reports, and analyze data.

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This type of automation is becoming increasingly common: Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends survey found that 90% of business leaders believe that developing an organization fit for the future is a key priority. One-third of these leaders have already integrated artificial intelligence (AI) in an effort to reinvent and improve their human resources capabilities.

Even with this shift toward HR automation, do we need to worry that automated technology will take the human out of human resources?

Automation is intended to free up time and energy for HR to focus on high-level work that increases their value to the business. But finding a balance between humans, robots, and AI does present challenges: In the Global Human Capital Trends survey, only 17% of respondents believe they are ready to manage such a workforce.

Automation is intended to free up time and energy for HR to focus on high-level work. Click To Tweet

And while one of the great advantages of automated technology is its ability to gather, structure, and analyze data, only 8% of respondents feel that they are provided with usable data to aid their work.

Job applicants are taking note of automation’s shortcomings as well. 82% of job seekers said that they prefer personal, human interaction over innovative technologies when considering a company.

Let’s look at a few examples to consider the pros and cons of HR automation:

Example One: Payroll, Insurance, and PTO Questions

  • Scenario: An employee has a question regarding their paycheck, health insurance plan, or how much vacation time they’ve accrued. Rather than contacting an HR rep, they send an instant message to a Chatbot that HR has set up. The Chatbot is able to check their information and answer their question without any human assistance.
  • Pros: The bot eliminates human error and saves HR valuable time. HR is then able to act as a business partner, focusing on big-picture, strategic tasks that grow the business.
  • Cons: The bot has to be programmed with specific answers to common questions. For more complex, employee-specific questions, the bot will need to be integrated with other HR software (payroll, etc.)

Example Two: Recruiting

    • Scenario: Recruiting software gathers information from hundreds of applicants, compares it against the characteristics of your company’s top performers, and features candidates that are the best fit to advance within the hiring process.
    • Pros: The data collection and analysis far exceeds human capabilities. Ideally, automation eliminates recruiter bias. And rather than sifting through hundreds of unqualified candidates, recruiters can focus their efforts on a handful of candidates that offer the best fit.
    • Cons: There’s no replacement for a one-on-one conversation between recruiter and candidate in terms of building rapport, assessing personality, and determining culture fit.

Human resources automation certainly offers great advantages, and the future is trending towards increased automation. However, as we can see in the examples above, automated technology will never be able to fully replace humans, especially in a people-centric field such as HR.

Automated technology will never be able to fully replace humans. Click To Tweet

The ideal scenario is for HR professionals to find the balance between humans and technology, using automation as a tool in acquiring talent, offering the best employee experience, and building a healthy, winning culture.

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