The rise of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace is having a dramatic impact on the way we work, the job market, and employee expectations.
Already, 72 percent of Americans worry that AI will take over their job and could make them obsolete. Their concerns aren’t entirely unfounded, as AI is predicted to eliminate about 1.8 million jobs in 2020. That said, it is also estimated to produce 2.3 million new jobs in the same year, a net gain of half a million jobs. In 2021, Gartner predicts AI will also generate $2.9 trillion in business value and 6.2 billion hours’ worth of productivity improvements.
In light of these opportunities, organizations of all sizes and across industries are under tremendous pressure to create and execute workplace automation strategies that take advantage of the AI revolution while minimizing risks of talent exodus, skills deficits, and technological deficiencies. However, only 10 percent of executive HR leaders have an organizational strategy in place to deal with the potential risks posed by automation.
If your organization is one of the many that could use some help in preparing for — and making the most of — the AI revolution, here are five ways leaders can collaborate to use AI and automation to address talent management, business performance, and growth priorities:
1. Automate HR Functions
Automated candidate sourcing tools and onboarding solutions have already enabled HR to become much more efficient, and the addition of AI can further refine talent selection and retention processes. With AI, HR departments can home in on qualified candidates faster, using data analytics to match employees with organizations based on company needs and employee expectations. As AI handles more and more of the day-to-day HR operations, HR pros can become strategic advisors and administrators, focusing on more high-touch work.
2. Improve Decision-Making
Combining AI data analysis with human knowledge and intuition — what many call the “centaur model” — gives business leaders the ability to predict trends and prepare in advance to capitalize on emerging opportunities. HR pros and managers can be more proactive about hiring and people development needs, which gives the organization a significant advantage in today’s tight talent market.
Similarly, as an organization grows and becomes more complex, its teams become more difficult to manage. With AI and automation, you can leverage more data at scale with less human intervention to grow your business faster and more easily.
3. Grow Your Business Intelligence Talent Pool
The increase in business intelligence offered by AI and automation technologies won’t just change the HR function — it will change an entire company’s way of innovating, operating, and growing. To leverage this opportunity, you’ll need to be prepared with the right talent on board. Demand for AI-savvy talent has skyrocketed. If you have not already begun to build a business intelligence talent pool, get started now.
4. Invest in Coaching and Upskilling
One of the best ways to build a talent pool that is prepared to leverage AI and automation technology is to invest in coaching and training for existing employees who may be at risk of losing their jobs to new advancements.
Cultivating a culture of real-time feedback and development will help you build the knowledge and skills your company needs to succeed in the new business environment while saving you time and money associated with talent acquisition. An emphasis on internal development also allows your company to preserve and take advantage of institutional knowledge among existing employees.
Furthermore, the valuable educational opportunities offered to employees may well boost retention and engagement. AI and automation can actually help in this endeavor. By analyzing data related to an employee’s status, role, satisfaction, engagement, and sentiment, AI systems can catch disengaged employees before they become problems or leave the company. Then, HR can step in to deliver the perfect training the employee needs to learn new skills they can use to succeed in the digital business age.
5. Support Corporate Diversity and Inclusion
As companies increasingly recognize the impact of diverse perspectives on innovation, employee engagement, and customer experiences, more and more organizations are making diversity and inclusion top priorities.
AI and automation technologies can support diversity and inclusion initiatives by combatting unconscious bias, helping HR pros and hiring managers make hires based on talent and propensity for learning rather than traditional attributes like years of experience or education.
Be mindful, however, that AI and automation are not silver bullets when it comes to solving the diversity challenge. Even the best AI-based diversity hiring solutions may come with their own biases programmed in. As is the case in any AI-influenced decision-making process, technology should be a tool to educate and inform, not a substitute for human creativity and empathy.
The arrival of AI and automation in the workplace is poised to change forever the way employees work and the way HR pros and leaders hire, inspire, and manage employees. By creating and implementing contemporary people management strategies that take advantage of the future of work today, executive teams can position their organizations to remain competitive in both the talent market and the wider business environment for years to come.
Erick Tai is cofounder of Reflektive.