Automation or artificial intelligence (AI) is taking the world by storm and it has received different reactions. The mention of automation taking over the workforce sparks fears for many because it might mean redundancy, unemployment, and lay-offs. However, “will the workforce of the future really be dominated by robots?”
Perhaps not, though there is no doubt the future of automation is coming. Automation has been portrayed as a disruptor across all industries, inducing concern as many fear of losing their rice bowls.
What is HR Automation?
HR automation is the procedure of improving the efficiency of the HR department by eliminating tedious tasks and allowing employees to focus on more complex tasks like strategising and decision-making. Automation takes care of many of the administrative and mundane tasks that, although critical, slow down productivity when it is performed manually. Administrative tasks include the filing of documents, creation of new folders and many more.
Here are some HR tasks where automation has worked its magic:
Predicting workforce trends by measuring employee engagement, work culture, and problematic areas
Reducing human bias by executing employee assessments with unprejudiced, regular performance appraisals
Simplifying recruitment with an ATS (Applicant Tracking System). It can screen through and analyse many resumes based on location, keywords, expertise, and qualifications
Solving HR-related queries such as the application of leave, completing employee data, simulating a conversation with users on the internet
Managing employee records according to government regulations in the repository.
Automation also reduces the need for paper-specific tasks like gathering written signatures and making photocopies. By automating repetitive and standardised HR processes, organizations can greatly reduce time and costs in the long run.
Will Automation Replace Humans?
Will the day where automation displace workers from their roles and positions come? Is it actually possible for automation to completely replace humans? While technology like artificial intelligence and machines can perform a task, no doubt more efficiently than us humans can, it does lack the flair of the unique human ability to listen and cater to the needs of each individual. At BGC, our consultants and relationship managers are trained to listen and look out for the pain points of our clients and candidates. Check out our testimonials here!
A robust automation system will operate on algorithms that require billions of data input to discern between and learn from patterns. Then, they make predictions based on whatever results they have collected. The learned protocol of the machine may only suggest one approach, but an employee who is an expert at what they do and knows when subtleties are required and when to adjust and tweak accordingly.
How can HR professionals brace themselves?
Technically, experts are predicting that automation would result in a decrease of generalist employees, HR generalists too, who is in charge of repetitive and mundane transactional tasks. That said, more HR staff would be directed to perform functions that are analytical and getting more in touch with the organisational activity concurrently.
Another way companies can better protect their HR professionals would be to outsource their non-core competencies to free up their job scope. One such function would be the company’s payroll (time attendance, expenses, and claim, leave, pay matters, etc) as it can be a really sticky process to handle and many companies have turned to payroll outsourcing.
Another broader, umbrella term that payroll outsourcing falls under is called Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). Similarly, it is also the outsourcing of non-core competencies to experts. Check out this article for the full breakdown of BPO.
Now that the non-core processes are being taken care of, these HR professionals now have time to upskill themselves. As technology advances, the skills of HR executives should, too. Signing up for workshops is one way to improve themselves and avoid being displaced by automation.
See also: Skills Framework for Human Resources
In a nutshell
Automation is perfect for carrying out repetitive tasks that are data-centric like providing insights based on patterns recognised and even address high-frequency issues with humans. However, for tasks that demand innovation, creative thinking, leadership, and critical analysis? As far as we know, the algorithm will only run explicitly as instructed and is subjected to the programmer’s influence. It will run predictions because the system has been coded to do so, but it will not decipher the reasoning behind it.
The future of how far technology is unpredictable and is likely to displace many HR jobs and functions in the future. Nevertheless, complex human interaction is still required in HR and it will likely prevent automation from gaining total control; human resources is an industry that is highly unlikely to ever be fully automated. Therefore, you can start expecting a future world of HR where automation and human beings work hand in hand.
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