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Will technology replace HR functions completely?

Opinion & Analysis
Human Resource Management Companies

HUMAN resource (HR) technology, often referred to as HR tech, has developed rapidly in recent years, with large employers around the world widely adopting core HR technology systems from enterprise software companies.

Even though these technologies will replace some employees, human resource managers will remain in the workforce.

As long as there will be employees to manage, talk to, and supervise, AI technologies can never replace a human professional’s touch.

What technology means in human resources

When we talk of technology in human resources, the first sub-topic that comes is artificial intelligence (AI) as it covers all.

AI refers to technology used to do a task that requires some level of intelligence to accomplish a certain task.

In other words, they are tools trained to do what a human can do. AI is different from ordinary softwares because it has high-speed computation, a huge amount of quality data and advanced algorithms.

AI technologies offer significant opportunities to improve HR functions, such as self-service transactions, recruitment and talent acquisition, payroll, reporting, access policies and procedures.

Human resources executives have faith that merging AI into HR administration functions will benefit and improve the overall employee experience.

AI and HRM

AI is reinventing human resources in a way not seen before by automating the repetitive task of hiring, onboarding, learning and development, allowing HR teams to focus more on creative and strategic work.

AI is being used in HR to automate repetitive and low-value tasks, thus increasing the focus on more strategic work.

Many fear that the rise of AI will lead to machines and robots replacing human workers and view this progress in technology as a threat rather than a tool to better ourselves.

Let me clear all the fears and resistance of AI by enlightening all HR practitioners that you are not going to be replaced, but HR processes, systems and practices are just being reinvented.

How technology is affecting HR

The HR function has many different aspects to it and certainly technology has a great role to play in making the work efficient and providing easier access for employees to things they need.

It is also true that good data, if well used and analysed, can be very helpful in making hiring decisions, and promotions and technology is a good tool to help with skills development and knowledge upgrading.

Can technology replace the HR function entirely? Some will say yes but I do not believe so.

It is important to remember that data and the technology we use to manage data is created by people and is vulnerable to some degree to manipulation or error at any point.

It is also important to remember that face-to-face human interaction adds a very valuable layer of connection that technology is unable to provide. And we often don’t really recognise that gap until a problem arises.

Because of that, I believe that people who work specialise in certain HR functions will always be necessary.

Humans are more “human” than AI

As human beings, employees need managers who can empathise and make them feel that they belong to the company.

They need to feel that they are being understood when talking about their work-related problems.

This human factor is an integral component of all forms of management practices. In the end, machines are made to serve humans, not the other way round.

Even though these technologies will replace some employees, human resource managers will remain in the workforce.

As long as there will be employees to manage, talk to, and supervise, AI technologies can never replace the human professional touch.

AI won’t replace all of HR, but it will cause significant change and disruption, including the elimination of some jobs.

AI will take over specific HR jobs, not HR roles. But the reality is AI can fit seamlessly into our daily lives, and while it eliminates certain jobs, it frees us to route our efforts in different directions.

Why can AI not replace human decisions?

Humans have long wondered if AI will replace them in their work. But right now, business transactions still need a human touch.

Humans are normally biased in whatever choices or decision they make, but they will not be completely replaced.

Making decisions requires human intelligence. However, scientists are unable to define intelligence in a natural way.

Therefore, AI is not based on natural laws of intelligence.

As a consequence, AI is not intelligent by itself, AI is limited to perform repetitive tasks and pattern recognition.

Artificial intelligence makes HR more human

Embracing of artificial intelligence and machine learning applications in human capital management is the only way that HR practitioners can become more human at workplaces.

The automation of tasks through AI technology allows for the freeing of HR professionals to focus on uniquely human abilities such as critical thinking, creativity and empathy.

While they are involved with the more human tasks, technology, at the moment, can handle the more ordinary tasks.

Besides being adaptable, flexible and agile to the ongoing changes, HR has to prepare for the innovations that are yet to occur and the development that might define the future of work.

This is where a strong knowledge of current trends and the potential they come with will come in handy.

Emotional intelligence (EQ) and empathy

Machines can’t compete with humans who have emotional intelligence (our ability to be aware of, control and express our emotions and the emotions of others).

The rapid adoption of social and mobile technology has transformed the way we interact with each other everyday, and one could argue that our obsession with digital devices has actually reduced our empathy and our emotional intelligence.

That’s why employees with strong EQ skills stand out all the more.

As long as there are humans in the workplace, EQ skills will be valuable, because they impact every single interaction we have.

Machines can’t form meaningful connections with human beings, so this is a skill that will always be valuable, both personally and professionally.

There is absolutely no doubt that AI will shape the future, but it doesn’t mean that Humans will be out of Jobs.

The simple explanation is that humans will always add value that machines cannot match.

We just need to be imaginative, wise, and contextually aware for AI to function and for us to prosper with it.

  • Emmanuel Zvada is an award-winning global HR practitioner and the managing consultant for 3rdeye Africa Consulting Group Zimbabwe and Namibia. For comments inbox or call +263771467441


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