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HR Answers: AI for Human Resources

January 2018: Vol. 41 No 1
How artificial intelligence could affect the workplace

HR manager using a tablet overlaid with a graphic depicting a network of employees or recruitsHR professionals will see explosive growth in their use of artificial intelligence over the next five years, according to research by HR.com. This growth will not only transform HR technologies but will have a major and perhaps unsettling impact on the workforce.

Most respondents still have much to learn about the topic of using AI for the purpose of enhancing HR, with just 8 percent strongly agreeing they are knowledgeable in this area. One reason for this is a lack experience. Only 7 percent use AI for HR purposes to a high or very high degree today.

By 2022, however, over five times as many (39 percent) predict their organizations will make heavy use of AI, and the number rises to 57 percent among HR professionals who consider themselves knowledgeable about AI.

“Those who understand AI best also predict the highest AI usage levels over the next five years,” says Debbie McGrath, chief instigator and CEO of HR.com. “AI algorithms will be integrated into a wide array of HR-focused technologies. The main problem won’t be a lack of AI apps, however—it will be that HR pros must become savvy enough to separate hype from reality.”

Survey respondents think AI has the greatest potential to improve work in HR analytics and metrics, followed by time and attendance tasks and talent acquisition. 

The ability to improve analytics is what HR professionals want most from AI, followed by the ability to predict and personalize options for employees. Analytics tools span across HR functions and can allow HR professionals to quickly gain insights about everything from employee retention risks to engagement levels.

AI will also have an impact on the workforce outside the HR function. Nearly twice as many HR professionals (27 percent) envision AI-related technologies causing a net loss in jobs rather than those predicting a net gain (15 percent), with the rest saying there will not be significant gains or losses as a result of AI. Respondents were also much more likely to say that the automation of various tasks will be prevalent over the next five years (54 percent), as opposed to the augmentation of employees’ capabilities (35 percent).

Automation could extend into the management ranks. When respondents were asked if employees will increasingly take direction from AI technology that allocates and assigns tasks to employees, over half (53 percent) said they would.

The survey found that, generally speaking, HR professionals are conflicted about the power of AI to monitor and report on employees. They were asked how they’d feel about software that tracks employees, analyzes those activities and then regularly reports back to their supervisors with a summary and recommendations. Few loved or detested the idea outright, but 34 percent liked the idea with reservations, while another 37 percent disliked the idea but thought it had some merit.

This research is based on responses from 995 HR professionals participating in a survey fielded in August and September 2017. The full research whitepaper and outcomes infographic are available on the HR.com website.  

HR.com strives to help create inspired workforces by making HR professionals smarter. Over 1,100,000 HR professionals turn to HR.com as the trusted resource for education, career development and compliance. HR.com offers training and networking for HR professionals globally 24/7/365.

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