Why Technology Can Diminish the Role of HR Function, but, Not Eliminate It Altogether

Why Futurists are Excited and HR Professionals are worried about Technology

Of late, there has been much talk about how the latest technologies such as AI or Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics, and Automated HR or Human Resources activities can eliminate the need to have dedicated HR staff.

The thinking of these experts who proclaim the end of the Human Touch in the HR Function point to how Recruitment can be done by AI powered Smart Bots that can sift through resumes and identify the fit between jobseekers and the roles being offered, as well as how automation can replace routine manual processes such as payroll and leave monitoring and other processes.

Moreover, with the Covid 19 Pandemic making workplaces virtual and with employees working from home, the chorus about how technology can do away with the HR personnel is growing.

Indeed, given the present state of technology and its likely evolution in the years to come, these predictions are not farfetched and can come true within a few years.

Therefore, there is much excitement among futurists and much apprehension among the HR professionals as to whether they would be the next to go due to automation.

Gut Feel, Sixth Sense, and Why Technology can never really replace HR Professionals

Having said that, it is our argument that while technology can indeed replace many activities that are done manually; there is still the need for human HR staff due to the very nature of how HR works.

For instance, there is the often cited aspect of Gut Feel wherein humans with their innate Sixth Sense can arrive at a decision that is better than what machines, in their current capabilities, can do.

In other words, technology has not yet reached the stage where it can think like humans and have the so-called Sixth Sense and the Gut Feeling that guides decision making in situations where the Human Touch is needed.

To take an example, during the annual performance reviews, there are often situations where HR managers have to take the call as to whether to give bonus to employees based on their performance that needs empathic approaches that are not yet possible by technology.

Moreover, the situations where employees are to be taken to task for ethical and policy violations needs a sense of Compassionate, yet, Firm approaches that machines can never or at the best, achieve partial success.

Therefore, it is a fair bet that Human HR would survive.

How HR Professionals Need to Develop the Seventh Sense, or Leveraging Network Power

On the other hand, we are in the Age of Networks wherein the Seventh Sense or the ability to leverage and harness the Network Induced Trends means that Human HR professionals really have their work cut out for them.

For instance, the decisions as to whether shortlist certain resumes needs an Intuitive and Trend Sensing traits and abilities that Machines have proven to be adept at.

Indeed, in many organizations in the United States, recruitment has been automated to such an extent that Human HR has been relegated to secondary and tertiary functions such as the Final Face to Face Interview and the Pleasantries Exchanges after the Hiring Decision has been made.

Therefore, it is our argument that the day is not far off when the machines would evolve to the Eight Sense of Human Consciousness that can make them eliminate the need for the HR professionals.

This is the so-called Singularity wherein machines develop human capabilities and what this means for HR professionals is that they need to get better at the Seventh Sense if they are to avoid being made redundant.

Indeed, this is the central challenge for the HR professionals as they navigate the Post Pandemic world.

HR is Built on Human Touch and HR Professionals Would Continue to be Important

However, there is also the case to be made for Human HR personnel as Interpersonal Relations are shaped by trust, empathy, compassion, and shared responsibilities and experiences.

Indeed, nothing can ever replace the shared experiences that form the basis of workplace relationships and this is where skilled and competent as well as adroit HR professionals would be in great demand in the future.

For instance, most organizations need HR professionals to deal with employees using their psychological abilities and this needs a deep understanding of human nature and the ability to relate to each other as people.

During offsite fun events and professional meetings, it is often the human element that predominates above anything else and this cannot be made redundant by any stretch of imagination.

Moreover, interpersonal relations are often built on a foundation of personal bonds nurtured over the years and in settings such as one on one meeting, the skill of the HR professionals comes to the fore.

In addition, the Pandemic, while increasing our reliance on technology has also fostered a need for Human Connection and Personal Touch and hence, technology would never really eliminate the need for the Human HR professionals in our present workplaces.

Why Cognitive Skills Matter

Last, HR by definition means Human abilities and even going by the future evolution of AI and other machine learning abilities, Cognitive Skills and Traits would be in great demand in the years to come.

Indeed, the Neuropsychological trait of Intuition and Sensing and Agility and Adaptability to situations is what makes HR professionals valuable to organizations.

No amount of cutting edge technologies can eliminate these in demand skills and hence, technology can at best reduce the importance of HR professionals, but never really eliminate them.

To conclude, HR professionals need to evolve if they are to avoid being replaced.

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Human Resource Management