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Artificial Intelligence in HR – is it our friend or our foe?

Last week we held a debating session in the LACE office around Artificial Intelligence (AI), with each team presenting their arguments, before collectively reflecting on the impact of AI for HR teams specifically. It proved to be a rather heated debate! So we sat down with our Co-Founder Aaron Alburey - who led the debate - and asked him to summarise some of the key arguments on either side of the debate. But what do you think? Is AI the friend or foe of HR teams?

AI as the ‘foe’ of the modern HR team

Security

Concerns over security remain, from cyber threats to misinformation, and whilst AI remains relatively young in its adoption by HR departments, these issues will always be a concern. There are also concerns around propriety algorithms set up to deal with HR queries. Can we give power to AI if we cannot be convinced that it will not fall into the hands of hackers?

Empathy

If you are dealing with a situation where an individual is suffering a bereavement, can a machine learning chatbot be trusted to provide the empathy? Human beings, and the complexity of human issues, means that AI simply cannot solve every human interaction – we must not lose the 'human' touch in our race for digitisation and automation.

Careers

If we are giving power to the machines, where does the HR team of the future come from? Does AI compromise entry level HR jobs and therefore make it more difficult for new professionals to enter the market? If AI is being used to solve simple enquiries from employees, then how can somebody new to the HR function develop their skillset? Will it have an impact on the overall talent pool?

Accountability

Who own's the data and the algorithms working on it? Is the management of AI systems in control of the IT team and therefore they are accountable? Or do HR retain control? How do you protect yourself from bias when you can't see/understand the coding used?

The case for AI as HR’s ‘friend’

Strategic focus

AI is the natural ally in helping HR professionals to behave in a more strategic fashion. By taking out the operational side of an individual’s role, we can look at creating ‘People Consultants’ who think more strategically about how a business can enable its people to be its competitive differentiator. Our HR On The Offensive report addresses this concept if you’d like a little further reading on the need for HR to ‘step up’ from a strategic perspective.

Accuracy

One of the biggest benefits of AI is its consistency. If you have an answer to a query that is not ambiguous (particularly in relation to legal queries such as parental pay, for example) you will always get the same answer from AI. There is no room for subjectivity from human, or human error or inexperience, which offers less risk for businesses.

Modern

AI banishes the stereotypes of ‘old school HR’. At the top of this blog we mentioned how AI is still relatively new in its widespread adoption. If HR departments are leading the implementation of AI into their businesses, as a function we become viewed as being at the forefront of the technology discussion in our respective businesses.

Insights

One of the key enablers discussed in HR On The Offensive is the need for HR to be better at using data to support strategic people decisions. AI provides those insights and therefore its effective implementation is essential in ensuring that the HR teams of the future are able to demonstrate their ability to use data to inform decisions on the strategic direction of an organisation.

So – for or against AI?

Businesses should embrace AI, but understand that it will not be a panacea for HR. It needs to be used to solve the issues of repetitive tasks that can save time. Organisations that embrace AI and understand that a hybrid approach is key will ultimately be more successful.

HR also needs to appreciate that whilst some roles from an operational level may change, they won’t go away, they will just evolve in to that of a ‘People Consultant’ through the enablement of AI.

If you’d like to discuss how your HR Team could implement AI, or the impact it could play within your business specifically, then get in touch with the team today on 020 8065 0310 or get in contact with Aaron today for a chat.