At the very top of any HR leader’s wish list is a desire to understand how they can facilitate the development and growth of every individual and team in their charge.
When this involves thousands of individuals, with teams dispersed across the globe, keeping tabs on the subtleties of individual cases is impossible. HR has to work with the managers and managers of managers to ensure that individuals have the motivation and tools to perform at their best. It would be rare that an HR Director in a 1,000-strong organisation would be aware of the ongoing individual circumstances of an individual employee in a certain country. This creates a certain distance between the general workforce and HR.
This distance, in turn, sometimes prevents HR from doing the best possible job.
Much has been made about the coming of the robots, but I can personally see multiple advantages for the HR community. One blog is not enough to explore them all in detail, so I would like to focus on just two:
Firstly, A.I. and RPA (robotic process automation) will take the strain on the repetitive and boring admin and will allow HR practitioners to be more “people facing.”
Secondly, A.I. will give HR unprecedented insights into the behaviours and requirements of every individual – allowing them to take a far more personalised approach.
The image of the HR professional being snowed under by rules, regulations, and admin is nothing new. HR systems have appeared over the past decade to lighten the load, but this is nothing in comparison with what is on the way. HR will finally become the facilitators that they are striving to be, with the information at their disposal to change the lives of everyone that they work with.
This change does come with a health warning. For those companies who see the transformative potential of HR, this empowerment of their HR teams will lead to greater staff satisfaction, unprecedented personal development and better retention. However, for those companies who see HR purely as an administrative function, the developments in technology risk taking the people aspect of HR out of the equation entirely. If the robots are doing the HR stuff, do you think that they will “care” about your needs?
Many of the HR leaders that I talk to are already starting to see the impact of technology as a positive force. It may well be giving a new lease of life to internal resourcing functions. It is certainly providing more accurate behavioural data on which to base their decisions. It is enabling more personal connection with every employee and consequently a closer appreciation of the challenges that they face.
Technology won’t ever replace a people function such as HR, but, if implemented properly, it has incredible potential for a step change in how the function operates.
I have touched on just two potential advantages. What are your views on the impact of tech on the HR function? Where are the opportunities? Are there any threats?