How HR should adapt with AI/ML changing the workplace

Recently during a conversation with a friend who can easily be called a Tech geek, who is overly obsessed with advent of Artificial Intelligence in our lives. He was trying to make be visualise the workplaces where you either have robots walking and systems working on multiple files without any human intervention. It sounded nothing less a Star Wars movie or a Ghost story for someone else..

While it would have sounded imaginary few years ago, it doesn't sound so alien today.

In the very next breath, he announced that I won't be required in any such offices because there won't be any humans.. Machines would produce, Sale, deliver, invoice, attend to client and what not.. No human.. No HR..

In this article, I would like to draw your thoughts towards this stark reality and what may be stored for us few years from now.

Let me take you back to Pre Industrial era when with advent of machines there was a common scare that automation will take away jobs and create mass unemployment; same got repeated when computers were introduced..

Let me also remind you that the people who were vehemently opposed were those who weren't ready to learn the new technology and feared they would be left redundant.

Changing priorities of CEOs in the current business environment

In a survey published in 2019 Deloitte Human Capital Trends report, 34% CEOs cited "impact on society, including income, inequality, diversity, and the environment" as their No. 1 issue in 2019 (Double than Financial Performance which was No.1 priority for only 17% respondents).

This clearly indicates that priority is to build organisations that are meant to solve human needs and not just work for profit; leading to growing importance of SOCIAL ENTERPRISE. While CEOs have cited this as an issue, they haven't necessarily solved it.

What can an HR do..??

While historically, HR's role has been restricted to back office; this shift gives us an opportunity to expand ourselves beyond hiring, training, performance appraisals to create a more inclusive organisation where everyone from Board Room to Security Office are trained and tuned to be more humans.

It's time for us to play a more important role in the board room to help management understand the humans, their needs, desires (as none in Board is more tuned to understand this than HR); both from an employee and society in general.

Over next 10 years, maybe less, we are going to witness redesigning of jobs to enable employees to work alongside smart machines, robots, and new forms of off-balance-sheet talent. Korn Ferry Leadership Report 2019 suggests that 7 of 10 leaders are deemed "unfit" to face demands of the future.

It increases the responsibility of HR as a community to work more closely with the board to predict the future, start training, retraining our workforces to get ready for the future.

Trends to Watch in Future

  1. New Jobs will be created using Artificial Intelligence
  2. AI ready Workforce will be critical to Organization's future
  3. HR will undergo major transformation and will seize to exist in its current form
  4. Accessing Talent will be more important than Hiring Talent
  5. Business will have to overcome the trust and bias issues surrounding AI and this may need a paradigm shift in the way we think
  6. AI will help save costs which should be redeployed to upskilling current employees
  7. HR will play more involved role in Board Rooms

With AI and robots entering our workplaces, we need not get jittery; rather welcome them with open heart as they are here to help and not replace humans.

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