Embracing the future: AI-driven transformations in HR departments gain momentum


CHROs say AI is here to stay and should not be seen as a threat to jobs.

Human resource departments, like many others, are not immune to the changes that artificial intelligence (AI) will bring to ways of work.

The increasing focus on AI in various forms, including chatbots and machine learning algorithms, can streamline recruitment, onboarding, and performance management. This has been listed as one of the growing trends for 2023.

According to Gartner’s 2023 Future of Work Trends, companies are now realising the potential of AI as a useful tool within their HR departments. Organisations, said the report, are using emerging technologies such as AI assistants and wearables to collect data on employees’ health, family situations, living conditions, mental health and even sleep patterns in order to respond more effectively to their needs.

Nicol Myburgh, head of human resource for the business unit at CRS Technologies, says there is usually an over-reaction and fear that technology like OpenAI’s ChatGPT has the potential to replace more people than help place more people, “AI most certainly has a role to play in HR and recruitment in today’s economy, but it is still very much in the development stages and a lot more research needs to be done before we are comfortable with what the technology can and cannot do.

“Studies and market research affirms that AI will be used primarily to perform repetitive, mundane and regulator tasks rather than actual jobs. This is because it is clear, even in the early stages of this disruptive technology, that while some functions can be left up to robots or intelligent technology, nothing can replace human emotion, thought processes, decision-making or reasoning.”

John Skelton, 2022 CHRO Awards nominee and chief people officer of The Capital Hotel and Apartments, says more CHROs need to embrace AI and learn to leverage the use of data to improve the employee experience. The group will introduce AI as part of its larger recruitment strategy. “With an employ of more than 1,000 staff members, our main goal for this year is to introduce AI – not just for employee experience, but also as part of our bigger recruitment strategy and to build a robust retention strategy in the business.”

Pragma chief people officer Elke Mackridge adds that AI can and should be used to free up time to focus on what really matters: “Using AI to help employees find information in policies without looking through multiple documents is one way of saving people operations time.

“I would also like to use AI to replace questionnaires and rather have chatbot discussions around the questions. This will allow for better quality answers without investing more time. Lastly, from an engagement point of view, chatbots can direct people’s operations by identifying which employees’ wellbeing is low. This all should be carefully evaluated against ethical principles.”

Ross Pickford, CHRO for Global Kinetic, adds that AI-driven work strategies allow companies to know when and where issues are arising, who works well together in what combinations, and where intervention and/or praise is needed. “Our internal system is anonymous, yet focused, and through this we leverage data on how their work is going and how projects are tracking. Areas of success, failure and improvements are all captured, adding to the richness of data that enables us to build strategies around our offering, and our work environment,” concludes Ross.


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