Do you sometimes wonder if your job as an human resource professional will become obsolete because of HR technology? This is a common concern, but it’s hard to imagine a world where humans will no longer be needed to manage the very human aspects of their organizations.
Recently, the World Economic Forum and Boston Consulting Group released a joint report that shared a glimpse into what the future workplace may be like. The report concluded that by the year 2026, as many as 1 million Americans will find their occupations have disappeared. Administrative and production jobs top the list of the most rapidly vanishing jobs. Those who are impacted will be forced to re-skill in order to stay marketable in a technology-driven workplace.
On the opposite side of things, the report also shows that those currently working in executive administrative roles have a better chance of transitioning to human resource roles due to skills that are transferable. Another report, issued by McKinsey Global Institute indicated that while we can expect as many as half of all of today’s jobs to be replaced by automation, there will be hundreds of millions of new jobs created too. This is a response to the skills needed to manage emerging economies, increasing technology development, and even the rapidly aging population. Currently, McKinsey finds that as much as one-third of the tasks that employees perform now can be automated in the near future. Only around 5% of jobs can be automated completely.
The opportunity to work in human resources will exist in 10, 20, and even 30 years from now...but it will look different than it does today. The activities that are at highest risk of automation include physical labor jobs, repetitive tasks, and data processing. Therefore, one can deduce that big data will be managed and used in different ways as a result of HR technology. Data comes from nearly every aspect of HR, from recruitment to training, meaning human HR professionals will need to be knowledgeable on how to use this data for business decisions and strategic policy building.
Keep in mind that employment laws will continue to change, thus HR best practices will have to adapt. There will still be a need for experienced human resource leaders to guide policies and make decisions that are best for the business. No robot can do that.
One popular trend in HR is the use of all-in-one human capital management software that handle everything from recruitment and onboarding of new hires to training and payroll. These can be a good solution for startup firms that need a central HR platform while they function without a formal HR person on staff. However, once a company scales and goes beyond 25 or more employees, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage the tasks associated with employing people.
Then there is the aspect of how employees view their work experiences today. Millennials, who far surpass all other generations of workers by sheer numbers, rule the workplace. A recent Gallup poll indicated that millennials are the least engaged employees, with most of them willing to switch jobs if they don't get what they want. What does this mean for human resource professionals? Using a variety of methods, HR is tasked with creating a more unique and rewarding experience to keep young talent plugged in and excited about their jobs. This requires a hands-on approach that HR knows best.
Human resource pros are also in the ideal position to promote the brand of their organizations. They know the culture inside and out, why it’s important, and how to get the message out to the rest of the world how unique it is to be part of the bigger plan. A strong employer brand doesn't get that way on it’s own. It also does not remain intact by itself.
It comes down to this fact: technology is meant to facilitate, not replace human resource professionals. As an industry, HR is being disrupted by tech tools, but in positive ways. Here are a few to consider:
Artificial intelligence now anticipates the behaviors of employees in nearly every facet of their lives. At work, this can include AI-driven content that becomes part of the learning and development experience. It’s also useful in recruitment, so candidates can be accurately matched up to the right jobs and become more successful. From a company standpoint, that means greater productivity and profitability too. AI is also a tool that assists human resource professionals with their performance evaluations, to make sure employees are getting the support they need to work up to full capacity. It takes bias out of the equation and places all employees on an equal playing field, so everyone has a chance to excel.
Data management can be a huge headache for many human resource professionals, due to the volume and increasing complexity of data science. Fortunately, data technology helps to translate, organize, and find purpose in the data that is produced. Advances in blockchain data enable human resources to verify candidate information faster, based on encrypted public data. Intelligent reports, predicting outcomes based on historical data, can help HR to be more strategic. Data is also a key way for HR to remain at the decision-making table along with other leaders, because it’s based on facts, not instinct.
Automated and employee self-service tools are a godsend for most human resource professionals. This frees up a lot of time conducting repetitive tasks, such as recruitment screening, candidate assessments, onboarding new employees, training, benefits enrollment, personnel updates, terminations, and much more. Employees often prefer to find information on their own, much like consumers like using ATM machines at the bank vs. going inside to speak with an actual person.
Intelligent apps are learning what is important to human resources, including attitudes and values. This responsive technology essentially extends the reach of human HR professionals, so they can handle things more efficiently. The technology has gotten so advanced that already it can be difficult for employees to know if a human is answering their message or if they are talking with a chatbot. Intelligent software, enabled by AI, also adds another layer of analysis, so that efforts are measurable in real-time, which proves without a doubt the value of HR in business.
How can HR professionals respond to these and other future technology developments? It’s important to recognize that the workplace is evolving and will continue to do so. HR has the opportunity to find ways to harness the appropriate technology for the right task, deploy it, test it, and then perfect it. By integrating technology into the natural flow of the business, HR becomes the expert in managing it for positive outcomes.
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