Is HR Automation Happening Too Fast?

While employers increasingly see the benefits of HR technology, a new survey from global talent solutions firm Randstad Sourceright also finds there are serious concerns about the pace of change.

Mixed View

The number of employers reporting that automation benefits their hiring efforts jumped six percent in the past year. But, in five key industry sectors, a growing number of employers worry that digital transformation is moving too fast, according to Talent Trends Quarterly, which reports findings from an international survey of C-suite and human capital leaders conducted by Randstad Sourceright.
Globally, 67 percent of the executives surveyed agree that increasing automation will shift their talent needs to highly skilled roles. In the U.S., more than 72 percent say automation will shift their talent needs to more high skilled roles.
In addition, across industry sectors more than 71 percent of respondents agree that “technology helps them make smarter hiring decisions” and reduces risks in talent acquisition.
However, in sectors that have automated more recently, like IT & Technology and Life Sciences & Healthcare, survey respondents are more likely to feel that they are not keeping up with rapid technological changes.

Moving Too Fast

“Our Talent Trends research discovered a kind of automation angst within the sectors that have adopted innovations in robotics or artificial intelligence most recently, versus those sectors with a longer history of integrating technology,” said Rebecca Henderson, CEO of Randstad Sourceright. “The transition to a more automated workplace puts added pressure on employers to find high-skilled talent, and to look for candidates in talent pools that may be unfamiliar to them or may not have even existed 10 years ago.”
In the IT & Technology sector, where technological change has been more recent and rapid, 61 percent of respondents say digital transformation is moving too fast, an increase of 39 percent since 2016, and one of the largest jumps of all sectors.
By contrast, employers in the Automotive & Manufacturing industries, which automated earlier than other sectors, has the lowest percentage of respondents (47 percent) who feel digital transformation is moving too fast. These industries also have the smallest increase (7 percent) in the number of respondents reporting that their company is not keeping up with technological shifts.
“Technological change can be overwhelming, but employers should not be relying on technology alone,” Henderson noted. “Human intelligence is not only required to make technology work, it is essential to turn data into meaningful business insights.”

On the Bright Side

Despite being overwhelmed by technological transformation, Randstad Sourceright’s survey data find that IT & Technology and Life Sciences & Healthcare are the sectors most likely to feel optimistic about the future of workplace automation. For example, while the IT & Technology sector has the highest percentage of respondents who feel digital transformation is moving too fast (61 percent), it is the sector reporting the largest jump in the number of respondents who feel that AI and robotics will have a positive impact on their workplaces in the near future.
Survey findings also point to a growth in positive sentiment about the recruitment benefits of technology, particularly within industries with advanced experience designing and working with automated machines. The Consumer Goods and Automotive & Manufacturing sectors, for example, report both the highest percentage of respondents who feel technology helps them make smarter hiring decisions (76 percent and 75 percent, respectively), as well as the largest jump (10 percent) in the number of respondents feeling this way since Randstad Sourceright’s last survey, in 2016.
“Adopting workplace technology requires more highly skilled talent, which is already in greater demand,” Henderson said. “But it also helps companies attract, engage, and retain the workers needed to meet that demand. For example, digitalization of the recruitment process and innovative workforce analytics are helping employers more easily identify and engage candidates they may never have found or considered without these technologies.”