Technology + A change of thinking = Future of HR
HR & Technology: The future of work

To transition from working in an environment with manual and repetitive processes to a digital and robotics-driven one can be daunting and maybe even uncomfortable for some HR practitioners. Yet this shift maybe unavoidable for those who drive this function in organisations all over.

With the increasing use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and digital technologies such as Robotics Process Automation (RPA) trying to figure out the future of work has been a source of anxiety for many.

Truth is we can’t know for sure what will happen. But, as Australian futurist, Ross Dawson advises, that we should focus less on whether the predicted future will happen as imagined and instead plan for what is predicted. We can apply that thinking to the HR function in the future of work.

Digitalization, AI and Robotics and RPA are three technologies that are having a tremendous effect on how businesses run and are, in fact, signals of what the future of work could look like.

Digitalisation, as distinct from digitization – the conversion of information from a physical format into a digital one – is that of using digital technologies and information to change business processes. Digitization can enable digitalization.

To illustrate: Scanning a physical application form that a prospective employee completed and submitted would be an example of digitization. However, having the application process exclusively online – including an option to upload degrees and certifications – would be an example of digitalization.

AI is the science of making intelligent machines. It involves the development of computer systems that are able to mimic human intelligence such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making and language translation.

AI in HR includes chatbots – computer programmes designed to stimulate human conversations – that help with pre-screening/pre-selecting applicants or reaching out to a new recruit as soon as an offer is made etc.

Robotics is the discipline of designing, constructing and using robots. While RPA is a platform service, which includes software robots that mimic a human worker in performing, especially high-volume, repeatable business tasks.

American behemoth, Walgreens, increased its HR shared service efficiency by 73% through RPA. The company automated many labour  intensive, transactional tasks that were being performed by team members, which freed up the employee’s time and bandwidth to offer more value added services.

Locally, Guardian Group has partnered with Sutherland Global Services on a RPA initiative that facilitates the interaction between both companies. The RPA platform can access, calculate, copy, paste, and use embedded business rules to interpret, validate and transfer data between the core enterprise applications.

True, the future of work will have technology at its core. But the future of HR is less about technology and more about a change in thinking now, so that organisations are prepared for what the future will ask of them.

Many thought leaders on the subject posit that right now HR leads are being asked to think like a data analyst – for example using payroll data, such as overtime payments, to help business leaders figure out how to staff a particular department or reassess the productivity tools and conditions that may be impacting overtime payments in the organisation.

They are also being asked to think like marketers and brand builders to come up with different ways to describe the job function so that the job posting that goes out can attract the right talent – because the talent expectations have changed. Companies are no longer just hiring an accounting clerk; they are also hiring a brand ambassador.

HR practitioners are also being asked to leverage some psychology skills in being a motivator and an expert communicator in creating an environment that especially the millennials can thrive in.

Technology will help to deliver the solutions that will come from the new thinking. But it is the new thinking that will lead to the change. This is one of the reasons we will still need humans in HR.

There is machine learning and yes the AI can learn to operate outside of what it is commanded to do. But with the human condition there are always outliers that only another human can do.

In the future, HR managers and machines may be engaged in co-botting that is humans working alongside collaborative robots. This is already happening in the automotive industry. In such scenarios there are some parts of the work that machine/robot will do and some parts the human will do.

Some experts have said that this scenario is paving the way for Industry 5.0. Yet the irony of Industry 5.0, which is fueled by automation, is that they are intended to put the “human touch” into work.

According to Esben Ostegaard of Danish Robotics firm, Universal Robots: “By putting human beings back at the center of industrial production – aided by tools such as collaborative robots – Industry 5.0 not only gives consumers the products they want today but gives workers jobs that are more meaningful than factory jobs have been in well over a century.”

It is not a case of technology vs HR professionals but rather a case of exploring and defining how HR professionals can work with and leverage technology to their advantage in preparation for the future of work.

The Future of Work starts with a change in thinking. And maybe when the technology has taken care of all the non-human elements, we really get to be more compassionate, more creative, more communicative, better critical thinkers and more collaborative.

The continued existence of life as we know it could depend on it.

MC Systems is here with you as your support technology partner. Let’s start the conversation. Contact us | 876 552-8124 | 876 564-2231

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