HR Management & Compliance, Technology

Human and Machine: How to Elevate the Role of HR and Promote Worker Autonomy

According to our favorite science fiction films and novels, artificial intelligence (AI) will play a major role in contributing to our dystopian future, right? Well, I’m here to tell you there’s some serious misunderstanding here. In reality, AI has the potential, when done right and created ethically, to change how we work and collaborate for good.

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The stigma around AI is not much different in the workplace. Many workers around the world are projecting their fears onto the technology, I think with a limited understanding of this great potential it can bring. Without being too technical, AI brings together software tools and programming methods that help solve complex problems that are sometimes too much or at too large of a scale for human intelligence.

Zeroing in on one region, we’re seeing that 70% of Americans believe the advent of AI will eliminate more jobs than it creates. What the World Economic Forum has discovered, however, is that automation is expected to create 12 million net-new jobs globally. Here’s the reality: As we continue to adapt to rapid technological transformation, AI will become a necessary tool in the workplace to streamline tasks across the business.

Because of this, people’s perceptions are slowly warming up to the idea of AI in the workplace. Workers more familiar with digital tools are optimistic about the technology, with many believing that by cutting out the monotonous tasks, AI will enable them to grow further in their careers. Here’s how the introduction of AI in our workplaces will elevate the role of talent leaders and empower workers to take charge of their own careers.

AI Helps Put the Human in Human Resources

AI can be leveraged for a number of decision-making capabilities to alleviate workloads. In fact, 53% of workers state that they can save up to 2 work hours a day through automation. Imagine having 10 additional hours each week to focus on strategic people initiatives and moments that require that true human element.

AI is a tool that helps in decision-making and automate certain processes, especially those with lower added value, that streamline and optimize different tasks.

For starters, AI can assist the candidates sourcing and recruiting. Similar to how a computer-automated chess player selects its next move, AI studies hundreds of thousands of applicants to determine a pattern and identify the best candidates. It can also predict future talent requirements for internal hires and use their data to match them to other roles within the organization. Once someone is hired, AI can help with career management. Technology can suggest training content according to the skills of employees and their development wishes. It can recommend projects or positions for internal mobility, as well. Through categorizing competencies and aligning interests, automation can recommend mentors and implement chatbots to answer general questions from employees, thus improving collaboration and engagement.

The findings and patterns generated by algorithms can help make decisions for the wider business. If HR were to use AI to uncover real-time market trends around key skills, this knowledge can then be used to make wider decisions on how to improve departments within the business. Unlocking emerging skills in the market could be the key innovator to improve a whole department or business unit.

Furthermore, smart tools can process all of an organization’s workforce information and extract relevant data related to company performance and productivity. Gone are the days of HR personnel spending hours sifting through data and reports to get the information they need. The automatic analysis of this vast amount of data facilitates predictions for employee behavior, possible employee demotivation, and potential causes. Because of this, the HR department will be able to anticipate a problem before it occurs and better support employee needs.

Perhaps most importantly, AI has the potential to really humanize the HR function. With the HR department better supported by technology, it will be able to focus on the more “human” activities, such as coaching, supporting employees, and looking after their mental well-being. AI frees up time for employees to focus on the human connection, which has been increasingly important amid the global pandemic.

How Automation Enables Worker Autonomy

There’s one more significant benefit that AI brings to the HR function: It opens up new possibilities for employees to take ownership of their skill development.

AI applied in the learning and development function can help organizations realize their potential and allow employees to develop the right skills to grow their careers by enabling employees to spot possible knowledge or skills gaps, highlight and offer personalized training for advancement, and help them increase productivity in their current roles.

For those in managerial positions, with the categorization of data provided by AI, they will also be able to see how their employees evolve and aspire to new opportunities, giving freedom to define their own career journey and choose what they want to learn. In this case, giving managers more autonomy to develop their teams also contributes to HR’s increased available time to work on higher-level strategic initiatives.

Making Room for Ethics

To implement these technologies and derive real benefits that can be shared by all users, it is necessary to understand their purpose and decide which framework they are going to be used in. Algorithms are as ethical as their creators, so they must be developed in a concerted, fair, and transparent framework.

Like any tool, we must be fully aware of its uses and limits to ensure compliance is integrated into its framework. In conclusion, AI in HR is an essential tool that allows HR to both improve its efficiency and productivity and offer employees functionalities that are useful to them, particularly in terms of career development and management.

Cyril Le Mat, Director of Data Science at Cornerstone. Cyril Le Mat is a Data Science executive with over 10 years of experience building data teams and machine learning products for start-ups and tech companies. After graduating from the Ecole Centrale de Nantes with a master’s degree in mathematics and computer science, he worked as a Management Consultant and Data Analyst for various companies. He then joined several French start-ups as Head of Data Science, including Cheerz (acquired by cewe) and HostnFly. In 2018, he joined Clustree, an HR AI platform focused on skills framework and careers, where he built a technology that surpassed the state of the art of the market and was acquired by Cornerstone. He is now an international expert in AI applied to HR, developing machine learning products at Cornerstone.