Should HR involve generative AI in decision making?

New research sheds light on employee anxieties around AI

Should HR involve generative AI in decision making?

Over two-thirds of employees are uncomfortable letting AI handle layoffs, according to new research from Capterra.

The data, released this week, found that while one in five Canadian employers are currently using AI in HR, employees aren’t fully sold on the new generative AI. And, while nearly two out of three (63%) employees say their company is not using AI in any HR capacity, 17% said they weren’t sure, which means AI’s usage could be higher than reported.

So why the sudden surge in usage? And why are employees just so concerned?

“Artificial intelligence technology can analyze huge quantities of data and propose a plan of action in seconds, so it’s no doubt that some employees have concerns about bias,” says Capterra analyst Tessa Anaya.

“When it comes to important decisions, it’s alarming to think they’ve been made completely by an algorithm; however, it’s rarely the case that HR departments implement decisions without also considering the AI-made recommendations for themselves. To reassure uneasy employees on the use of AI in HR, companies should keep their staff informed on how these tools work, what data is taken into account, and which processes HR associates are using them for.”

Transparency in AI usage

According to the data, 66% of employees whose employers are using AI in HR say they’re “unaware as to how” they’re using the tool – with 34% adding they have no idea whether or not their HR departments are using generative AI tools on a day to day basis.

The sticking point, for employees, seems to be a lack of communication and transparency in how AI is being used – a concern shared by the Canadian government. Recently the feds rolled out new generative AI rules – ones which dictate how and why AI is used. But, more importantly, that employers are fully transparent in their usage of any new tools.

“Transparency is key when adopting the use of AI technology in the workplace,” says Anaya. “Just six percent of employees were not informed about the use of AI in HR processes. As AI tools become more popular, businesses should ensure that they keep their employees well-informed about how the technology is being used, and how it will impact them.”

There’s no doubt that AI-powered tools are able to automate many HR processes, leading to questions surrounding the need for personnel, or even a HR department.

“For smaller businesses with limited time, money, and resources, these tools can be a great asset and can help to alleviate the workload of their HR teams,” adds Anaya. “However, these tools do not replace the need for human oversight, as an individual must still remain at the helm of the operations.”

AI as a helping hand – not as replacement

Experts have warned employers that AI shouldn’t be used to replace human roles, but rather work in partnership. Speaking to HRD in a recent interview, Subodha Kumar, Founding Director of the Center for Business Analytics and Disruptive Technologies at Fox School of Business, explained that the main issue with using AI as a replacement to human workers is that ‘common sense conundrum’.

Using the example of an AI health tool, one which is used to diagnosing foot issues in patients, he told HRD that if the foot is angled in the wrong way, the tech fails. Meaning humans are always needed to facilitate the AI – not to be ousted by it.

“That’s the common sense element,” says Kumar. “The robot needed a human there – the algorithm couldn’t fix the bent angle. And this has always been the challenge in AI. Jobs in which you need a dose of empathy mixed with common sense will be difficult to replace. Roles such as innovators, lawyers, teachers, social workers would always need that human element.”

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