The Line of Distinction is Certainly Thin
The discussion surrounding how Artificial Intelligence has taken over our everyday lives is endless. Social media posts and news reports show how automation, generative AI, machine learning, and other new-age tools are replacing humans and helping with cost optimization, job precision and speed, bettering customer responses, and more. Even people practice, and HR heads are now implementing AI in their organizations. IDC’s Future of Work 2022 research predicted that this year, 60% of global 2,000 businesses will deploy AI and machine learning (ML) tools to support the entire employee life cycle experience. By 2024, the authors predict, 80% of the global 2000 organizations will use AI/ML-enabled “managers” to hire, fire and train employees.
Does this mean human intelligence can be replaced by artificial intelligence?
The answer is ‘NO’.
As the world embraces the digital revolution, organizations increasingly turn to AI to streamline their operations and enhance productivity. One area that has witnessed a significant transformation is HR. Integrating AI into HR processes has revolutionized how businesses attract, retain, and develop talent. By leveraging the power of AI, HR teams are now better equipped to make data-driven decisions, improve employee experiences, and drive organizational success. But this does not mean AI is trained to uproot a human touch in any stream, least of all the people practices. While AI can undoubtedly handle many of the tasks that people currently do, it’s still up to us to make decisions about AI’s work. Even if we automate a lot of the processes in our department, we’ll still need someone who knows how to use the system and who can give it new instructions if something goes wrong or if there are changes required in how it operates.
Harvard Business School performed a survey and found that 88% of HR executives learned that their tools reject qualified candidates. The rejections were because the applicants needed to gain a few skills or had a gap in their previous employment due to genuine factors. AI cannot understand these comprehensive factors, as they run based on the algorithms created by humans; hence, proving a human touch is necessary.
But there are advantages that organizations and teams can benefit from when using AI:
Enhancing Talent Acquisition: AI has become a game-changer in talent acquisition. AI-powered applicant tracking systems (ATS) efficiently analyze resumes, identify relevant qualifications, and match candidates to job requirements. Moreover, AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants have transformed candidate engagement.
Improving Employee Engagement: AI-driven sentiment analysis tools can gauge employee satisfaction by analyzing surveys, feedback forms, and social media data. HR teams can then identify and proactively address potential issues to improve employee morale and productivity. Furthermore, AI-powered virtual mentors and career development platforms can recommend relevant training programs and career paths based on an individual’s skills and aspirations, fostering a culture of continuous organizational learning and development.
Predictive Analytics for HR Decisions: AI-driven predictive analytics tools analyze historical data to forecast future trends, such as employee turnover rates, potential skill gaps, and workforce demographics. This empowers HR teams to anticipate challenges and develop strategies to attract and retain top talent. Moreover, AI can help optimize workforce planning by forecasting future demand for specific skills and identifying areas where reskilling or upskilling may be necessary.
Performance Management and Feedback: Traditional annual performance reviews have often been criticized for their subjectivity and limited impact on employee development. AI-driven performance management systems offer continuous feedback and performance evaluations based on real-time data and objective metrics. This approach gives employees timely insights into their performance, enabling them to improve and align their goals with the organization’s objectives.
While in an attempt to achieve the above, organizations must also understand the limitations of artificial intelligence to make informed decisions:
Emotional Intelligence and Empathy: Empathy fosters trust, promotes open communication, and is instrumental in resolving conflicts or providing personalized support to employees. AI cannot truly comprehend and relate to human emotions on a deep level. While AI-driven sentiment analysis can somewhat gauge emotional states, it cannot replicate the genuine empathy and understanding that a skilled HR professional can provide.
Individuality and Contextual Understanding: Employees have unique backgrounds, experiences, and needs. Based on patterns and data analysis, AI algorithms may treat individuals as statistical entities, often overlooking the subtleties and nuances that make each person exceptional. Human HR professionals can comprehend and account for individual complexities, providing tailored solutions and support beyond what AI can deliver.
Complex Decision-making and Ethical Considerations: HR often faces complex situations that demand strategic decision-making and ethical considerations. AI, though highly advanced, cannot understand its decisions’ broader context, company culture, or long-term implications. AI-driven recruitment, for example, could unintentionally perpetuate biases present in historical data, leading to discriminatory outcomes. Only human intelligence can recognize, challenge, and rectify such biases, ensuring fair and ethical practices within HR.
Effective Communication and Employee Relations: While AI can assist with some aspects of communication, like automated responses to common queries, it cannot replace the human touch that comes from genuine interactions. Employees may feel disconnected or undervalued if their concerns are handled solely by machines.
Creativity and Innovation: In a constantly evolving work landscape, creativity and innovation are essential for HR to devise novel solutions to emerging challenges. AI is limited by its reliance on historical data and predefined algorithms. Human intelligence brings creativity, imagination, and adaptability, enabling HR professionals to develop innovative strategies that AI alone cannot replicate.
Career Development and Mentorship: Career development and mentorship are integral to employee growth and retention. AI cannot build the meaningful relationships necessary for effective mentorship. Human HR professionals can act as mentors, offering personalized guidance, support, and encouragement, contributing significantly to employees’ professional advancement and job satisfaction.
The future of AI is more likely to involve collaboration between humans and machines, where AI augments human capabilities and enables humans to focus on higher-level tasks that require human ingenuity and expertise. However, it cannot replace human intelligence, which brings essential elements like empathy, emotional intelligence, ethical judgment, creativity, and interpersonal skills to HR and people practices. While AI can be a valuable tool to support HR functions, it should be viewed as a complementary tool rather than a substitute for human professionals. It is essential to view AI as a tool that can enhance productivity and facilitate new possibilities rather than as a complete substitute for human involvement. AI has undoubtedly reshaped HR operations, streamlining processes and providing valuable data-driven insights. A balanced approach that combines the strengths of AI with an empathetic understanding of human intelligence will lead to more effective HR practices and a more harmonious work environment.
Director & Chief of Staff
Crayon Software Experts India