Will AI make HR redundant?

A new study has some worrying revelations for the sector

Will AI make HR redundant?

The majority of HR professionals believe there is a chance that their roles could be automated, according to a new study from SkyNova. The research showed that 86% of HR professionals admit it's possible their jobs could be replaced by AI in the future, with 28% of them thinking the chance is highly likely.

But could AI really do the work?

SkyNova's study conducted an experiment where it fed an AI several situations to see how the tech would handle them. The generated response would then be rated by the surveyed HR professionals, who were not informed that they will be evaluating answers from an AI. With their ratings, the AI performed best when responding to cases of harassment and bullying, as well as issues on diversity, equality, and inclusion. The highest-rated response the AI received was for a situation in which an employee of colour reports another co-worker for racially insensitive remarks. The response received a 3.56 HR score out of five.

 On the other hand, the lowest score the AI received was on its approach to company culture. In particular, a situation in which an employee reported feeling a lack of support from their manager at a time they needed to prioritise their children – receiving the lowest score of 2.91. The AI bot told the employee that it's important to be a team player and be direct with a request for a leave.

"Otherwise, just suck it up and get your work done," the response said - which received the 2.91 HR score. Interestingly, the generated response on a COVID-19-related case also placed on the lower end of the AI-centred research. In a case in which an employee doesn’t want to be vaccinated amid their return to the workplace, the AI said that there is nothing that can be done about it.

"Make sure the employee understands that they are putting their co-workers at risk and that this could lead to loss of employment," the response detailed, which only earned a 3.13 HR score.

Read more: Will AI really change the workplace for the better?

Risks and benefits

Following the evaluation, HR professionals were informed that the responses they rated were actually generated by AI. They were then asked to identify the risks and benefits of the AI taking over the HR role. According to their responses, 48% of the respondents believe that AI "would not be able to   accurately sense the gravity and complexity of an offence to offer an appropriate response."

Nearly half, or 41%, said that automating AI would also pose legal risks for companies - especially when dealing with employee pay and salaries, one of the most common HR complaints in the past year according to HR. Despite this, 34% believe that AI would be able to provide quick responses to easier and less complex HR requests, while one in three said automation could help "streamline" requests and help them in priorities their work.

"Clearly, bringing automation techniques to the workplace doesn't gel quite as well in scenarios where the technology needs to offer a more sensitive or nuanced approach," concluded the study. “Even though automation in some form seems inevitable in any industry, perhaps dealing with issues that could potentially put a company at risk is better left up to a well-trained human."

SkyNova's study conducted an experiment where it fed an AI several situations to see how the tech would handle them. The generated response would then be rated by the surveyed HR professionals, who were not informed that they will be evaluating answers from an AI. With their ratings, the AI performed best when responding to cases of harassment and bullying, as well as issues on diversity, equality, and inclusion. The highest-rated response the AI received was for a situation in which an employee of colour reports another co-worker for racially insensitive remarks. The response received a 3.56 HR score out of five.

 On the other hand, the lowest score the AI received was on its approach to company culture. In particular, a situation in which an employee reported feeling a lack of support from their manager at a time they needed to prioritise their children – receiving the lowest score of 2.91. The AI bot told the employee that it's important to be a team player and be direct with a request for a leave.

"Otherwise, just suck it up and get your work done," the response said - which received the 2.91 HR score. Interestingly, the generated response on a COVID-19-related case also placed on the lower end of the AI-centred research. In a case in which an employee doesn’t want to be vaccinated amid their return to the workplace, the AI said that there is nothing that can be done about it.

"Make sure the employee understands that they are putting their co-workers at risk and that this could lead to loss of employment," the response detailed, which only earned a 3.13 HR score.

Read more: Will AI really change the workplace for the better?

Risks and benefits

Following the evaluation, HR professionals were informed that the responses they rated were actually generated by AI. They were then asked to identify the risks and benefits of the AI taking over the HR role. According to their responses, 48% of the respondents believe that AI "would not be able to   accurately sense the gravity and complexity of an offence to offer an appropriate response."

Nearly half, or 41%, said that automating AI would also pose legal risks for companies - especially when dealing with employee pay and salaries, one of the most common HR complaints in the past year according to HR. Despite this, 34% believe that AI would be able to provide quick responses to easier and less complex HR requests, while one in three said automation could help "streamline" requests and help them in priorities their work.

"Clearly, bringing automation techniques to the workplace doesn't gel quite as well in scenarios where the technology needs to offer a more sensitive or nuanced approach," concluded the study. “Even though automation in some form seems inevitable in any industry, perhaps dealing with issues that could potentially put a company at risk is better left up to a well-trained human."

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