How to prepare HR for the challenges of automation

How to prepare HR for the challenges of automation

Technology advancement is one of the most common disruptions affecting all organisations today. Almost no occupation or industry will escape its impact over time, according to Dr Mathew Donald, principal of Dr Mat – The organisational Health Doctor.

This change will likely entail AI emerging and taking over parts of multiple roles and industries through multiple waves of change.

“Staff may be tired, stressed and concerned from these ongoing changes that will need to be addressed in order to maintain productivity and customer relationships,” said Dr Donald.

“The HR function will be uniquely challenged by the emerging AI as their own jobs will be affected by AI whilst they lead organisations through ongoing related changes.

“As we already see in social media and various apps, AI has the potential to take on many routine tasks - and the HR tasks will not be immune.”

Dr Donald added that AI has the potential to assist and replace HR tasks through potential auto-analyse applications, with abilities to interview, record answers and select candidates.

AI may even one day be efficient at determining training schedules based on recorded skills and be able to counsel staff.

Dr Donald, who is author of Leading and managing change in the age of disruption and artificial intelligence, added that some may be threatened by this change.

However, others will see this as removing administration so they can perform higher duties that are more important to staff and the organisational operation.

“AI will likely not emerge as a single transformational revolution, where waves of change and uncertainty will emerge as new AI functionality is reviewed,” he said.

“AI will not be adopted until there are identified advantages for either the organisation or customer, so many versions of AI may need to be considered in the interim.

“The constant review of AI will likely create instability and stress for staff, where each review and new version has potential to replace jobs or alter work practices.”

In order to manage this change, Dr Donald argues HR will likely need to explain and comfort staff and provide context, so a vast array of change management factors will need to be in play by the HR role.

There will be ongoing change in this new future, where the HR role will be involved in implementing change through new roles and structures, he added.

Almost in the opposite direction, the HR role will be required to calm, satisfy and retain staff that are important to the organisation - so they will be instrumental in settling contract changes or disputes as work changes.

Dr Donald said the remaining staff may consider their new work to be less social with less human involvement, so they may demand new flexible arrangements, like working from home, time off for social gatherings or more training.

“The HR role will be required to placate staff and build new cultures that accept AI and are able to perform with its functionality,” he said.

Organisational change is dependent upon involvement of leaders and managers, so the HR professional will be uniquely placed to influence the integration of staff, AI and organisational needs post AI.

Many staff may be disillusioned and upset with changes that result from AI introduction, so Dr Donald believes leaders will be required to communicate a context for this emerging change.

“The HR professional of the future will be able to understand and explain how any AI implemented will improve the organisation,” he said.

“Any absence of good staff explanation, communication and engagement may lead to staff rejecting AI introduction so the HR will need to be proficient at building trust and understanding.”

So what’s the answer to successful organisational change?

Engagement is important to so those explaining the change will also need to allow open and full response from staff before any AI implementation, he said.

“It is important that the HR professional understand that AI will contribute to the fast paced and ongoing change of the future, where their role may change significantly,” he said.

“The HR role may be transformed by AI through its abilities to replace many of the routine tasks, where the remaining HR role may have more time available for leading and assisting organisation change.”

Dr Donald explained it may be prudent for HR managers to prepare for the future by training up on now on strategy, negotiation, team building, staff engagement and higher-level change skills.

“Future HR professionals through AI will likely be relieved of their administrative tasks, replaced by roles that are instrumental in implementing change where their focus will be on building new roles and cultures that can perform through the change.”